Friday Night Lights: Season Three

Friday Night Lights: Season Three
Friday Night Lights is probably the best teen drama to ever grace television. Not even the excellent fist season of The O.C. can hold a candle to the series. Show runner Jason Katims and his writers have taken what should be the blandest of all premises — a high school football team in a football-obsessed small-town in Texas — and flipped it on its head. Stock characters are revealed to be anything but, as they're slowly developed over the show's three seasons. Each is nuanced, with flaws, and ultimately relatable. It's astonishing that NBC continues to air the show. Season three returns to form after quickly sweeping most of the silliness (particularly the Landry/Tyra murder plot) of the uneven and writers' strike shortened second season under the rug. Moving forward, we learn that the Dillon Panthers were eliminated in the previous season's playoffs, thanks in no small part to star running back Brian "Smash" Williams injuring his knee. On the cusp of a new football season, Matt Saracen, now a senior, has to contend with much hyped freshman quarterback J.D. McCoy nipping at his heels for his starting position on the team. Coach Taylor, on the other hand, has to deal with his overbearing father, who moved the family to Dillon specifically so his son could play for the Panthers. Meanwhile, Tim Riggins, played by series breakout star Taylor Kitsch, struggles to get his life together, maintain his relationship with Lyla Garrity and hopefully get a football scholarship to go to college. With major characters like Smash and Jason Street already graduated, and Matt, Tim, Lyla and Tyra all seniors, the writers obviously see the writing on the wall. No teen drama ever makes the leap to the post-high school without a major drop in quality and viewership, although Beverly Hills 90210 did manage to maintain the latter. By the end of the season it's clear that coach Taylor and wife Tami (played by Connie Britton, who once again delivers outstanding performances throughout the season), while always at the program's heart, are the main characters — the kids can come and go but as long as they remain the show will go on. Whether the quality can be maintained with many of the main characters gone to college remains to be seen. NBC has green-lit two more 13-episode seasons. But season three serves as a fitting end to Friday Night Lights' triumphant first run. (Universal)