December 01, 2007 at 06:27 PM EST

Friday Night Lights

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date

This week’s Friday Night Lights contained a series of scenes, each of which was beautifully acted and sometimes quite moving. (You’d have to have a heart of stone not to have both cried and laughed during Tim Riggins’ abject yet hilarious series of on-field apologies to his teammates in a last-ditch attempt to get back on the team; this may have been Taylor Kitsch’s finest moment onscreen yet.)

At the same time, as lovingly crafted and executed as each individual scene was, there was a lot about this episode that just didn’t make dramatic sense in the way the Friday Night Lights we love always used to make sense.

For example: Tami (Connie Britton) had that terrific moment when she blasted the new English teacher for being “inappropriate” with her daughter Julie—not just for being touchy-feely, but also for recommending she read The World According to Garp. That was a perfect FNL touch, reminding us that, as intelligent as Tami is, there’s still an element of small-town small-mindedness to her. (And don’t start writing to me about slagging off small towns—I’m not. I’m just saying, some people in rural areas, as there are those in big cities, can exhibit a narrow outlook on some things, especially when it comes to culture.) Tami’s rage at the teacher provoked another marvelous scene in which daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden), let Mom know just how embarrassed and betrayed she felt.

We also got a very good Coach-and-Tami scene in which Tami explained to her husband (Kyle Chandler) that she really needed “a night out.” But it wasn’t the night of hoochie-coochie that Coach Eric had hoped for—nope, Tami wanted to whoop it up with some teacher-pals playing Bunco.

As I say, all very good scenes. But they didn’t add up as plot: There is just no way someone as sensitive as Tami wouldn’t have told Coach about her big confrontation with the English teacher, and their daughter’s reaction, before sailing off to Bunco-ville. This lapse is typical of FNL this season when it’s not playing at top-tier level.

Similarly, my jaw kinda dropped when the police officer set up that meet-’n’-greet between Tyra and the brother of the dead rapist. Let me get this straight: He needed closure? She was supposed to go see a complete stranger alone? I understand that the scene was set up so that Landry (Jesse Plemons) would be the one to talk to the guy, and to feel fresh guilt over dumping the rapist’s body, but really—that was too much of a stretch. It was like saying, “Hey, Tyra, you were assaulted by a guy; go chat with his brother and make him feel better, will ya? Oh, and we’re the police, but we won’t be there to keep an eye on the situation.”

And I don’t have the heart to say anything critical about the whole Matt-Carlotta romance—nothing good can come of this. Thank goodness Zach Gilford got two nice scenes: rescuing Smash (Gaius Charles, pictured) after Smash’s knucklehead college escapade, and breaking up with his girlfriend by following Smash’s amusing advice about suggesting an “open relationship.”

It’s not Friday Night Lights’ fault if NBC spent all week promoting Landry’s dramatic walk into the police station to announce he’d killed Tyra’s attacker—a scene that didn’t occur until the very end of this episode. From the commercials, I’d been expecting to see the aftermath of that confession, but, hey, at this point, with FNL’s low ratings, if NBC wants to go crass with its hype, I say, do anything you can in the promotion department to bring more viewers to the show.

And as I said at the top, bravo to Tim Riggins—he was aces all night. Loved all the scenes with that jerk he went hunting with; loved the way he found out that Jerko was running a meth lab; and loved his final moments on the field, mock-apologizing. You bet Coach had Riggins pegged when he said earlier in the hour that Riggins gets away with a lot with his little-boy pout and sensitive-tough-guy demeanor. It worked like a charm on Coach, on me, and with you, too, am I right?

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