Friday Night Lights (2006) - The First Season

Genre(s): Drama / Sports
Universal || NR - 955 minutes - $29.98 || August 28, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-09-03


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Buzz Bissinger (novel)
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Gaius Charles, Zach Gilford, Minka Kelly, Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Porter, Aimee Teegarden


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Behind the Lights: Creating the First Season of “Friday Night Lights”


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Based on the Buzz Bissinger bestseller, and in turn the feature film of the same name, NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” is easily one of the best and most rounded television drama I have seen in a long, long time.

Like the movie, “Friday Night Lights” the show centers on a high school football team in small town Texas home of the Panthers. Dillon is a town where football comes in close second to God (and sometimes tied) and the pressure for a State Championship is huge. The series begins a lot like the movie letting the audience know how important football is as the team’s new head coach, Eric Taylor (Chandler), begins his first season.

Although the movie and show share quite a few similarities with the characters (names were changed), but the stories were expanded and rather than this be a football game of the week kind of thing, instead the show really is comprised of only 15% football and 85% drama. Thankfully, even the drama is taken to a realistic realm rather than cliché-filled teen storylines reminiscent of “Dawson’s Creek” or even “Degrassi” (though that is a good show). Instead, we get a look inside the player and coach’s world on and off the field.

**MINOR SPOILERS**

For example, Coach Taylor is a strong family man. He believes in the fundamental values of family but he isn’t a perfect person, in fact he relies on his wife (Britton) -- who also played the Coach’s wife in the movie version. This isn’t the Cleaver family where everyone is happy and issues are resolved in 30-minutes. He has a 15-year-old daughter who is changing and getting into the dating world (with the starting QB no less) and while he is a good man, he is still flawed.

Other storylines are examined from the off-and-on relationship between team Full Back Riggins (Kitsch) and Tyra (Palicki); paralyzed former QB star Jason Street (Porter) and his girlfriend/cheerleader Lyla (Kelly); and the growing pains of the ex-backup QB Matt Saracen (Gilford). There are plenty other storylines but to explain them here would be superfluous and pointless. However, each story is as involving and riveting as the next and makes the entire 22 episodes come along at record speed.

**END MINOR SPOILERS**

“Friday Night Lights” is absolutely one of the best shows I have ever seen. Save for maybe the last episode, every one is near perfection and features some great acting that it’s a shame it was not recognized more from the Emmys. I’m glad NBC has put their faith in the series and give it one more shot and a second season and as much as some shows get overly hyped (especially on the Net), this one earned the hype. One sentence review: This is a damn great show!



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The amount of supplements is disappointing but given the SRP on this set ($29.98), I can’t complain too much.

There are 49 deleted scenes with a total runtime of around 63-minutes. Most of the scenes were cut for time but one where the coach’s wife comforts Tyra is quite touching.

The other feature is Behind the Lights: Creating the First Season of “Friday Night Lights” (22:33) and is a standard ‘making-of’ featurette. Be warned, however, that you should watch the season first before watching this.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The series is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78 OAR) and looks as good as any new TV show can. The colors are nicely balanced and look crisp.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also fine with your football cheers and crunches come through fine. However, the majority of the show is dialogue-driven with a nice score and the occasional song (it should be noted that apparently some songs were not carried over from the original airing).



.::OVERALL::.

“Friday Night Lights” is one great show that deserves more success. I feel strongly about this one more so than any others that got an early departure (“Arrested Development”, “Robbery Homicide Division”, etc.).

Even if you come in halfway through, you can understand and get into these characters quickly enough to care about what happens. On the same token, it also isn’t some kind of buzz-kill where each week has something to be depressed about. Even though there’s some humor, it’s dealt with on an even keel rather than used as a gimmick for a quick laugh. And, like the drama, it’s used in a realistic fashion.

At a reasonable $19.99 price point, there’s no reason not to give this show a try. Universal also has a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with it. What are you waiting for?