" Lord, is “Friday Night Lights” good. In fact, if the season is anything like the pilot, this new drama about high school football could be great — and not just television great, but great in the way of a poem or painting, great in the way of art with a single obsessive creator who doesn’t have to consult with a committee and has months or years to go back and agonize over line breaks and the color red; it could belong in a league with art that doesn’t have to pause for commercials, or casually recap the post-commercial action, or sell viewers on the plot and characters in the first five minutes, or hew to a line-item budget, or answer to unions and studios, or avoid four-letter words and nudity."
Let's put aside the utterly ridiculous pretentiousness of this opening paragraph from The New York Times review of NBC's new high school football drama "Friday Night Lights." Admittedly, that's a lot to put aside. Poem great? Painting great? I bet this writer had to hold her nose when she turned on the idiot box. The irony is Times critic Virginia Heffernan might have better taste if she watched more television. As it is, "Friday Night Lights" fails to live up to the considerable hype created by hit-desperate NBC and TV writers who perhaps prematurely compared this pedestrian drama to Monet and Dickinson.
Even if you aren't familiar with the book or film "Friday Night Lights" is based on, I bet you can guess what happens in the pilot. Stop me if you have heard this one before: A young football coach is starting his first season as the head of a high school team in a small Texas town where players are treated like rock stars and the old fellers at the corner barbershop argue over whether the boys can beat the team two towns over on Friday. Pressure is mounting as the obsessed townsfolk fret over the upcoming season, which everybody expects to be championship-caliber. (Hmm.) Hopes are highest for star quarterback Jason Street, a good Christian kid expected to play in the NFL who appears to have everything going for him. (Hmmmm.) Oh, and there's also the sophomore quarterback they show at the beginning of the episode for no apparent reason. (Hmmmmmmmm.)
There' s also the town tramp, the troubled hothead kid, the rapping black kid, etc. etc., etc. I don't know what kind of poems The Times digs, but this is Jewel-level originality. Writer/executive producer/director Peter Berg does bring a certain slickness and visual flair ot the material, but "Friday Night Lights" essentially is "Varsity Blues" with shaky camerawork.