Friday Night Lights (TV series)

Friday Night Lights (TV series)

infobox television
show_name = Friday Night Lights


format = Drama, Teen drama
runtime = 43 Minutes "(Approximately)"
developer = Peter Berg
executive_producer= Brian Grazer
David Nevins
starring = Kyle Chandler
Connie Britton
Zach Gilford
Minka Kelly
Taylor Kitsch
Adrianne Palicki
Jesse Plemons
Aimee Teegarden
country = Flagicon|USA United States
network = NBC, The 101
first_aired = October 3, 2006
last_aired = present
num_seasons = 3
num_episodes = 39
list_episodes = List of Friday Night Lights episodes
website = http://www.fridaynightlightstheseries.com/
imdb_id = 0758745
picture_format = 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
tv_com_id = 58137

"Friday Night Lights" is an Award-winning American serial drama television series adapted by Peter Berg, Brian Grazer and David Nevins from and film of the same name. The series details events surrounding the Dillon Panthers, a high school football team based in fictional Dillon, Texas, with particular focus given to the team's coach, Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his family. The show uses this small-town backdrop to address many issues facing contemporary Middle America.

Produced by NBC Universal, "Friday Night Lights" is broadcast by NBC. Premiering on October 3, 2006 with an initial order of 22 episodes, the show was eventually picked up for another season. [cite news|url= http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2006-11-13-friday-night-lights_x.htm|title=NBC orders up more 'Friday Night Lights'|publisher=USA Today|date=November 14, 2006|accessdate=2007-03-18] NBC would go on to renew the show for a full 22-episode second season after the first season was completed and Season Two episodes began airing on October 5, 2007. [cite news|url= http://www.austin360.com/tv/content/tv/stories/2007/05/11lights.html|title=NBC renews 'Friday Night Lights'|publisher=Austin American-Statesman|last=Holloway|first=Diane|date=May 11, 2007|accessdate=2008-01-25] cite web | url = http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/05/arts/television/05ligh.html | title =Randy Teenagers, Troubled Parents, Feverish Thoughts and Even Football | publisher = "New York Times"|last=Bellafante| first=Ginia|date=October 5, 2007| accessdate=2008-01-19] Only 15 of these episodes were completed before production was stopped due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, leading to speculation that the show might be canceled. However, the show was renewed for a 13-episode third season; episodes will first air on DirecTV's The 101 in the fall and then be rebroadcast on NBC in the winter. [cite news|url= http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment_old/ci_8784137|title="Friday Night Lights" lives|publisher=Denver Post|last=Ostrow|first=Joanne|date=April 2, 2008|accessdate=2008-04-02] To date, "Friday Night Lights" has aired 39 episodes.

Subject to multiple timeslot changes, "Friday Night Lights" has yet to obtain a sizable audience. [cite news|url= http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20046965,00.html|title=Tuesday Afternoon Lights|publisher=Entertainment Weekly|last=Agrawal|first=Meeta|date=July 18, 2007|accessdate=2008-01-25] The show has, however, been a critical success and was featured on a number of critics' top ten lists following its first season as well as being identified twice by the American Film Institute as culturally significant. [cite web|url= http://www.metacritic.com/tv/bests/2006/|title= TV Critic Top Ten Lists|publisher=Megacritic|date=2007|accessdate=2008-01-25] [cite news|url= http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117977808.html?nav=news&categoryid=1983&cs=1|title= AFI picks best of 2007|publisher=Variety|date=December 16, 2007|accessdate=2008-01-25] Lauded by critics for its realistic portrayal of Middle America and deep personal exploration of its central characters, the show has been awarded a Peabody Award, an Emmy Award, and a Television Critics Association Award.

Production

Inspiration

"Friday Night Lights" takes its inspiration from a book titled "" and the 2004 film based on it. The book, published in 1990 and written by H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, details the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team in Odessa, Texas. The book itself was intended as a work of journalism and is assumed to be completely factual. The characters in the book are not renamed and the book makes no attempt to conceal their identity. [cite web|url=http://houstonpress.com/2006-11-09/news/lights-on-or-off/2|title=Info on Friday Night Lights The Book|accessdate=2007-03-21] The Universal Pictures film stars Billy Bob Thornton and was directed by Bissinger’s second cousin Peter Berg. The film's characters are again based on the real life residents of Odessa circa 1988. The film is not completely true to the source material. In the book, the Panthers lose in the semifinal game and don't play in the state title game. [cite web|url=http://movies.about.com/od/fridaynightlights/a/nighthb100604.htm|title=Differences between book and movie|accessdate=2007-03-21]

Conception

Once filming on the movie was completed, Berg turned his attention to adapting the story for television. Berg expressed in various interviews following the film how he regretted having to jettison many of the interpersonal topics covered in the book from the film because of the time constraints of a feature film. Creating a TV series, particularly one based on fictional characters, allowed many of those elements to be brought back in and addressed in-depth. [cite web|url=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9515506|title=NPR Interview with Peter Berg|accessdate=2007-04-22]

The show chose not to use Odessa as the setting and instead used it as inspiration for the fictionalized town of Dillon, Texas. The football team did, however, retain the Panthers name. Berg made a number of these conscious choices in carrying elements from the film to the series and as such much of the work that went into the creation of the pilot was duplication of the work that was done on the movie. [cite web|url=http://www.buddytv.com/articles/friday-night-lights/exclusive-interview-connie-bri-4552.aspx|title=Interview Connie Britton at BuddyTV|accessdate=2007-03-21] Other of these choices include casting Connie Britton, who plays Head Coach Eric Taylor's wife, and Brad Leland, who plays football booster Buddy Garrity, in similar roles, [cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0110168/|title=Connie Britton imdb page|accessdate=2007-03-21] [cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0500894/|title=Brad Leland imdb page|accessdate=2007-03-21] and using Explosions in the Sky, a band that wrote most of the film's soundtrack, [cite web|url=http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/review?oid=oid%3A236032|title=Review of film's soundtrack with track listing|accessdate=2007-03-21] for some situational music. Though many people have assumed that the show's theme song is also by Explosions in the Sky, it is actually the work of noted TV music composer W.G. Snuffy Walden and Bennett Salvay.

With this conception in hand, filming for the show's Austin, Texas-based pilot began in February 2006. Berg described filming the pilot and eventually the show in Texas as "a deal breaker" for his weekly participation in the project. Even so, the show features a number of homages to its Texas heritage. In filming the pilot, Berg ensured this homage by featuring Texas Longhorn coach Mack Brown as a Dillon booster and having a caller to the fictional “Panther Radio” compare Panthers' coach Eric Taylor to Brown.cite news | url=http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/longhorns/entries/2006/10/02/brown_on_his_cameo_in_friday_night_lights_dont_blink.html | title=Bevo Beat | publisher=Austin American-Statesman | accessdate=2006-10-08] The pilot also incorporated much of the surrounding area. Football scenes for the pilot were filmed at Pflugerville High School's Kuempel Stadium and at the RRISD Complex. The Dillon Panther uniforms were based heavily on the uniforms of the real life Pflugerville Panthers. [cite web|url=http://www.austin360.com/tv/content/tv/stories/2006/10/1fridaynights.html|title=Local Texas Article about Pilot Filming|accessdate=2007-03-21]

In addition to physical locations, characters in the show were also inspired by Berg’s observation of local high schools students while preparing for filming the movie. For example, Jason Street, the character whose promising football career is ended by a spinal injury in the pilot, was inspired by a real life incident in which David Edwards, a player from San Antonio’s Madison High, was paralyzed during a November 2003 game. Berg was at the game when the incident took place and it had a profound effect on him, leading him to base the pilot around a similar incident. [cite web|url=http://www.fnlfans.com/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=46|title=David Edwards Incident|accessdate=2007-04-22]

Performances

The show’s producers decided at the outset to allow their performers leeway in what they say and do on the show. Though scripted like any hour-long television drama performers are given great leeway in the delivery of their lines and the blocking of each scene. If actors feel that something is not true to their character or that a mode of delivery doesn’t work they are free to change it provided they still hit the vital plot points. [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/jesse_plemons.html|title=Jesse Plemons Interview|accessdate=2007-04-13]

The freedom that producers have extended to the performers is complemented by the fact that the show is taped without rehearsal and without extensive blocking. Camera operators on the show are trained to follow the actors rather than actors standing in one place and having cameras fixed around them. This allows performers to not only feel free to make changes but to feel safe in making those changes because the infrastructure will work around them. Executive producer Jeffrey Reiner described this method as “no rehearsal, no blocking, just three cameras and we shoot.” [cite web|url=http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/review/2007/03/07/lights/index1.html|title=Salon on Jeffrey Reiner quote|accessdate=2007-04-13]

Working in this fashion has had a profound influence on everyone involved with the show with series star Kyle Chandler going so far as to say “When I look back at my life, I'm going to say, "Wow, [executive producer] Peter Berg really changed my life."” [cite web|url=http://www.tvguide.com/News-Views/Interviews-Features/Article/default.aspx?posting=%7B0C6109CF-B00B-4748-AB96-723704788ED8%7D|title=Kyle Chandler & Connie Britton on TVGuide.com|accessdate=2007-04-11] Executive producer and head writer Jason Katims echoes this sentiment saying “When I first came on [the ‘FNL’] set, I thought, it’s interesting — this is what I imagined filmmaking would be, before I saw what filmmaking was.” [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/the_revolutiona.html|title=Chicago Tribune article on filming techniques|accessdate=2007-03-21]

Filming

Both seasons of "Friday Night Lights" have been filmed in Austin, Pflugerville and Del Valle Texas, despite discussions at the close of the first season about a possible move to New Mexico or Arizona.cite web|url=http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-News-Blog/Tv-Guide-News/Friday-Night-Lights/800020973|title="Friday Night Lights" Location Crisis Averted|date=August 24, 2007|publisher="TV Guide"|accessdate=2007-10-17] Representing roughly $33 million a year in revenue for the area in which its filmed,cite news|url=http://www.austin360.com/tv/content/tv/stories/2007/02/18fnl.html|title=Can Austin stop 'Friday Night' blitz?|last=Holloway|first=Diane|date=February 18, 2007|publisher="Austin American-Statesman"|accessdate=2007-03-21] both were aggressive in courting the production company following Texas not paying all of the rebates they promised the show's producers. The show remained in Austin, however, as a result of Texas passing legislation to match the offers of other states and the production company having a preference to stay in the Austin area.

"Friday Night Lights" is unusual in its use of actual locations as opposed to prefabricated stage sets and its lack of any sound stage for filming. This, along with the production team using hundreds of locals as extras, gives the series a uniquely authentic look. [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/the_revolutiona.html|title=The revolutionary 'Friday Night Lights' makes all the right moves|last=Ryan|first=Maureen|date=March 20, 2007|publisher="Chicago Tribune"|accessdate=2008-01-19]

The drive towards authenticity continues in the show’s documentary style filming technique which employs three cameras for each shoot and shoots entire scenes in one take. This differs from most productions in that most productions will film scenes from each angle repeating an average scene several times and readjusting lighting to accommodate each shot. The show is mostly improvised and scenes in the show are usually the first takes. By filming a scene all at once, the producers have tried to create an environment for the actors that is more organic and allows for the best performances. [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/jeffrey_reiner.html|title=Jeffrey Reiner, co-executive producer of 'Friday Night Lights'|last=Ryan|first=Maureen|date=March 20, 2007|publisher="Chicago Tribune"|accessdate=2008-01-19]

This desire for authenticity in the production extends to the football games as well with the series making heavy use of the uniforms, cheerleaders, fans, and the stadium of the real life Pflugerville Panthers. Producers even go so far as to video Pflugerville games and use them as game footage in the show. [cite web|url=http://houstonpress.com/2006-11-09/news/lights-on-or-off/|title=Houston Press on Pflugerville Connection|accessdate=2007-03-21] Added to that are real life University of Southern California football announcers Peter Arbogast and Paul McDonald who provide off-screen commentary during the football game sequences. The facilities, colors, and bobcat logos of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas serve as the setting and creative inspiration for the fictional Texas Methodist University.The uniforms used on this show are the uniforms of the Pflugerville Panthers. The fields name in the show is Herrmann Field, named after Coach George Herrmann, the head coach of the Pflugerville Panthers.

Marketing

Initial marketing of the show was targeted at the youth market and focused heavily on the football element. NBC teamed with social networking site Bebo to create a site that allowed students to upload video and photos as well as create blogs about their local football teams. Students who participated were eligible for one of ten $5,000 scholarships. The focus of this promotion was a deal that would provide NBC and the show promotion on Bebo’s network of youth oriented sites including Piczo, Hi5, Tickle, Ringo and FastWeb. [cite web|url=http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=47390|title=Bebo Partnership|accessdate=2007-04-13]

To complement this promotion NBC sent out “School Spirit” kits to 1,000 high schools around the country. These kits included posters, pom-poms, mini-footballs and disposable cameras all bearing the show’s logo. The kits also contained copies of the show’s Pilot episode on DVD. [cite web|url= http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/news/networktv/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003084959|title=”School Spirit Kits”|accessdate=2007-04-13] This promotional trick is something the network would return to for its second season promotion when it teamed with HouseParty.com to send out 1,000 "Party Kits" which contained advance copies of the Season 2 opener along with other promotional material. [cite web|url= http://www.tvsquad.com/2007/08/24/nbc-hosting-sneak-peek-parties-for-friday-night-lights/|title=”Season 2 Kits”|accessdate=2007-08-24]

In addition to the Bebo.com partnership, NBC paired with Toyota to create what they called the “Hometown Sweepstakes” in which students could earn cash grants of up to $50,000 for their school’s athletic program. This contest was open to high school students age 14 to 18 and was designed to draw people to the show’s official web site where they could download AOL Instant Messenger Icons, screensavers, and desktop wallpaper from the show. In addition, students that registered could download free movie theatre passes to special early screenings of the show’s Pilot episode. These movie theatre screenings took place in 50 cities nationwide and ran until a week before the show premiered on NBC. [cite web|url= http://promomagazine.com/contests/news/nbc_toyota_fnl_092206/
title=Hometown Sweepstakes Partnership|accessdate=2007-04-13
]

This early strategy caused several marketing problems for the long term the most notable of which is the lack of women viewers. The early marketing campaign created an audience of almost exclusively young men and all but repelled women with its football heavy slant. This in turn deprived the show of a large audience who would enjoy the more character-driven soap elements.

Given this dilemma NBC chose to aggressively switch course and pursue the female demographic in the later part of the season. The network designed a strategy based around accentuating the personal elements of the show even going so far as to rechristen the show with the tagline “It’s about life”. NBC Marketing President Vince Manze stresses that their goal was to let people know it was not just about football but about family and relationships as well.

The network even chose to once again take their case to movie theatres by running 30 second spots featuring both cast members and fans being interviewed about the show. [cite web|url=http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1576879,00.html
title=Marketing switch towards female demo|accessdate=2007-04-13
]

Distribution

Online Episodes

NBC has been aggressive in its online promotion of "Friday Night Lights". Streaming videos such as cast interviews and full episode from the previous week have been available on NBC.com since the series’ inception and in December 2006 NBC expanded this selection to include every episode of the season. The move to offer every episode was only made for a few select shows and represents a marketing push on NBC's part. [cite web|url=http://tv.ign.com/articles/752/752132p1.html/|title=IGN on availability of online shows|accessdate=2007-03-20] Beyond NBC.com it was announced on March 14, 2007 that the show would be part of an expanded lineup available via MobiTV. [cite web|url=http://www.rcrnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070314/FREE/70314001/1019|title=MobiTV Announcement|accessdate=2007-03-20]

In addition to the free ad-support offerings every episode of "Friday Night Lights" became available for download on the iTunes Store on February 10, 2007 for $1.99 per episode. As a special promotion the pilot was initially offered as a free download. [cite web|url=http://www.tvsquad.com/2007/02/07/friday-night-lights-pilot-free-on-itunes/|title=iTunes Announcement|accessdate=2007-03-20] The first 2 seasons are now on Zune Marketplace.

Repeat Schedule

In an attempt to bolster series ratings NBC repositioned reruns of the show to air on its sister network Bravo during the weeks leading up to the season one finale on NBC. These were aired on a schedule of one hour every Friday and three hours every Saturday.

Bravo is known to have an audience that is upscale and largely female which is in line with NBC's then President Kevin Reilly’s (now at FOX) new strategy for selling the show. [cite web|url=http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=57175|title=Repeats on Bravo plus section on Bravo audience|accessdate=2007-04-11] When questioned about this strategy he admitted to regrets over initially marketing the show incorrectly saying “It’s been so clear to me that [the marketing for] the show ended up confusing people in terms of what [the public thought] it was supposed to be”. He goes on to say that he feels the show is, at its core, a “women’s show” and that his wish is that the marketing had reflected that to a greater extent. [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/kevin_reilly_of.html|title=Interview with Kevin Reilly over female demographic|accessdate=2007-04-11]

NBC has used this method of ratings-bolstering with limited success in the past, most notably during the ratings challenged final season of The West Wing. [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/kevin_reilly_of.html|title=West Wing on Bravo reference|accessdate=2007-04-11]

Once the 2006-2007 television season ended, NBC planned to air reruns throughout the summer in the hopes of gaining new viewers during the summer hiatus. Despite rising ratings for the reruns, NBC abruptly pulled them from the network's schedule on June 24, 2007. NBC Representatives confirmed that reruns would resume airing in late August/early September and would be timed to the DVD release of Season 1. [cite web|url=http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-News-Blog/Todays-News/Lights-Friday-Nights/800017641#comments|title=NBC Summer Reruns Pulled|accessdate=2007-06-26]

DirecTV

During the 2007-2008 Writer's strike, NBC Universal's decision to release the season two DVD with only the 15 produced episodes and comments by NBC chief Ben Silverman led to speculation that the show would be canceled. [cite news|url=http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-Editors-Blog/Ausiello-Report/Ausiello-Scoop-Race/800032760?rssDate=12345678|title= Michael Ausiello on DVD and cancellation|publisher=TVGuide|date=February 1, 2008|accessdate=2008-02-08] [cite news|url=http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2008/02/ben-silverman-is-not-optimistic-about-friday-night-lights.php|title= Ben Silverman indicates cancellation|publisher=Radar|date=February 1, 2008|accessdate=2008-02-08]

Shortly thereafter reports began to surface that the show's producer, NBC Universal, was marketing the series to other networks including The CW Television Network, TNT, and the owner of E! and G4 about possible arrangements for a third season. Similar deals such as the one where NBC shared airing rights for "" with the USA Network were a template for these discussions.

Unconfirmed reports of a third-season renewal surfaced on March 5, 2008 when Nikki Finke reported on a possible cost sharing partnership between NBC and DirecTV. The alleged agreement would have first-run episodes airing exclusively on DirecTV and then being rerun on NBC at a later date. [cite web| url=http://www.tvblogger.org/2008/03/lights-on-for-friday-night-lights.html| title=Lights on for 'Friday Night Lights'|publisher=TV Blogger|accessdate=2008-03-26] "TV Guide"'s Michael Ausselio confirmed these reports on April 2, 2008. [ [http://www.tvguide.com/ask-ausiello/friday-night-lights/080402-10 Ausiello on Friday Night Lights | TVGuide.com ] ] This was later confused when USA Today ran a report that NBC has confirmed their fall line-up, including Friday Night Lights. On nbc.com, the page for the show indicates a "2009 Series Return to NBC" and "returning to NBC with new episodes next season!" which were visible in early April 2008. [ [http://www.nbc.com/Friday_Night_Lights/ Friday Night Lights ] ] It has been confirmed that season three will air exclusively on Directv channel 101.

Deleted Scenes

As part of their online push for the show NBC has made the rare move of publishing deleted scenes from each individual episode on their web site. Normally, deleted scenes are held until an eventual DVD release but NBC/Universal has chosen to make them viewable online for a few of the shows that they produce. [cite web|url=http://blogs.usatoday.com/popcandy/2006/05/wing_learns_to_.html|title=NBC/Universal and Deleted Scenes|accessdate=2007-04-11] These scenes often provide information that is revealed later in the episode or series. An example of this is a scene from the episode entitled "I Think We Should Have Sex" in which it is established that the character of Walt Riggins has resumed living in the same house as his son Tim. The scene, while providing exposition on the relationship, serves only to establish a living arrangement which is made evident in subsequent aired scenes. [cite web|url=http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/2007/02/friday-night-lights-gone-in-180-seconds.html|title=Walt Riggins deleted scene recounted|accessdate=2007-04-11]

That said, the exposition given in a deleted scene can often change the intent of material that aired such as in a deleted scene from the episode "Blinders". In the episode that aired the character of Tim Riggins gives some prejudicial advice in regards to racial tension that is developing on the team. Only in the deleted scenes is it revealed that this advice was actually taken verbatim from advice his father had given to him and not necessarily what the character would have done had he not been trying to emulate his father. [cite web|url=http://www.tvsquad.com/2007/02/15/friday-night-lights-black-eyes-and-broken-hearts/|title=Comment regarding Deleted Scene|accessdate=2007-04-11]

DVD Release

Season 1

The First Season DVD was released on August 28, 2007 for a retail price of $29.98. [cite web|url=http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=7523|title=DVD Release|accessdate=2007-06-26]

Season 2

The Second Season DVD was released on April 22, 2008 for a retail price of $29.99.

Plot

Characters

As a show about the community of Dillon, Texas and how the football team affects the town as a whole, "Friday Night Lights" has a ensemble cast. While screen time of characters varies from episode to episode, the show is most focused on Panthers' football coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), who strives to balance his emphasis on family, his status in a sometimes confrontational community, and his personal ambitions. His family of wife Tami Taylor (Connie Britton), a guidance counselor at Dillon High, and teenage daughter Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden) also are in the center of the show. When Tami becomes pregnant and gives birth to Gracie Taylor, tensions within the family increase and Julie becomes more rebellious.

Outside of the Taylor family, the show focuses on the respective lives of the Dillon's high school football players. In the series' first episode, star quarterback Jason Street (Scott Porter) suffers an injury that leads to an end to his football career and a wheel chair-bound life which Jason resists and learns to cope with throughout the series. Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly), who at the time of Jason's injury was his girlfriend, parallels his story, as she goes from a Panther cheerleader to a Christian youth leader.

As a result of Jason's injury, shy and nervous Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) becomes the Panthers' starting quarterback and eventually dates Julie. It is also revealed that Matt's father is serving in Iraq and that he must therefore care for his grandmother Lorraine Saracen (Louanne Stephens) by himself, with help only from his best friend Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons) and eventual live-in nurse and love-interest Carlotta Alonso (Daniella Alonso). Brash star running-back Brian Smash Williams's (Gaius Charles) quest for a college-football scholarship and full-back Tim Riggins' (Taylor Kitsch) tale of on-and-off alcoholism and party-life are told as well. Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki) also stars as a town vixen who goes from Tim's occasional girlfriend to Landry's lover following Landry's defense of her from a rapist.

Story

Season one

Season one revolves around two main events: the ascension of coach Eric Taylor to the position of head coach and the paralysis of star quarterback Jason Street. These two events set off a chain reaction that leads the series through its first season.

Both Saracen and Street must struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds as Street learns to live without the use of his legs and Saracen must rise to be worthy of the position he has now inherited.

Also explored is the relationship of “Smash” Williams and Tim Riggins. Williams is a driven athlete, obviously college bound, with a good family, while Riggins is an unfocused alcoholic with absentee parents and no prospects beyond high school. When the season opens both characters feel animosity towards each other, but as it progresses they become more and more dependent on one another and eventually form a closer bond.

eason two

Season two begins with Coach Taylor in Austin with a new college-coaching job at fictional TMU while Tami is in Dillon with their newborn baby. However, as the Panthers experience internal difficulties with a new coach, and as Tami forges a new relationship with her replacement counselor at the school, Eric decides to return to Dillon. Even with his return, his daughter Julie begins to frustrate her mother, as she ends her romantic relationship with Matt and begins one with an older man. This trend continues as she begins a relationship with a teacher that her mother feels is inappropriate.

Meanwhile, Taylor begins to attempt to win games with the Panthers but faces a number of issues. Tim is banned from the team as a result of missing a game to convince Jason to not have stem-cell surgery in Mexico. This leads to difficulties for Tim, who eventually ends up homeless before being taken back onto the team and returning to live with his brother. At the same time, Smash is courted by a number of college recruiters, leading to tension between him and his mother. Smash accepts a scholarship to the prestigious TMU. However, Smash punches a white teenager who sexually harasses his sister when they're at the movies. This turns into a blown out of proportion racial incident and Smash is deemed someone with "character issues". His scholarship to TMU is revoked. He later commits to Whitmore University, a very small local school with a Coach that has a strong relationship with Eric.

Matt, on the other hand, begins a relationship with a cheerleader, before leaving her for his grandmother's new live-in nurse.

Additionally, the early season follows an arc where Landry kills and hides the body of a man who attempts to rape Tyra, leading to a romance between the two. Eventually, guilt builds within Landry and he confesses. Charges are not pressed, however, although tension between him and Tyra remains.

Jason impregnates a woman, in what was supposed to be a one night stand, at the end of season two. Considering the nearly impossible odds that he can produce a child, he believes this to be a miracle. The season ends on a cliffhanger as Jason pleads with the woman to keep the child.

Public Reaction

Critical Reception

The series debuted to strong critical reviews. Virginia Heffernan wrote for the "New York Times" that "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." [" [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/03/arts/television/03heff.html On the Field and Off, Losing Isn’t an Option] ", Virginia Heffernan. "New York Times", October 3, 2006.] The "Washington Post" similarly praised the series as " [e] xtraordinary in just about every conceivable way." [" [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/02/AR2006100201439.html "Friday Night" Kicks Off With A Great Formation] ", Tom Shales. "Washington Post", October 3, 2006.] Bill Simmons, a columnist for "ESPN Magazine" implored readers of his column in the September 24, 2007 issue to watch the show, calling it "the greatest sports-related show ever made." [cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070919|title=The Sports Guy: Don't Turn Off the "Lights|accessdate=2007-12-09] Positive reviews also came from "USA Today", [cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/reviews/2006-10-02-review-friday-night-lights_x.htm|title=USA Today Review|accessdate=2007-03-25] the "San Francisco Chronicle", [cite web|url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/10/02/DDGPOLFJMH1.DTL&type=tvradio|title=San Francisco Chronicle Review|accessdate=2007-03-25] the "Arizona Republic", [cite web|url=http://www.azcentral.com/ent/tv/articles/0918goody18side.html|title=Arizona Republic Review|accessdate=2007-03-25] and the "Boston Globe" [cite web|url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/10/02/DDGPOLFJMH1.DTL&type=tvradio|title=Boston Globe Review|accessdate=2007-03-25] and international sources, with "The Guardian"'s Jonathan Bernstien calling the pilot "accomplished and engaging" and the "Metro" awarding it 4 out of 5 stars. [cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/columnists/story/0,,1926315,00.html|title=Guardian Review|accessdate=2007-03-30]

Throughout its inaugural season many online journalists used the frequency of their medium to heap regular praise on the show. Matt Roush of TV Guide dedicated several of his “Roush Dispatch” columns to the show calling the last episodes of season one “terrifically entertaining” [cite web|url=http://community.tvguide.com/thread.jspa?threadID=800011210|title=Matt Roush's Dispatch|accessdate=2007-03-25] while Zap2it.com's "TVGal" asked her readers to "promise to watch [the last 4 episodes of] Friday Night Lights." [cite web|url=http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-tvgal-031907-savetheseshows,0,1015531.story|title=Zap2It Endorsement|accessdate=2007-03-25] TV Guide's Michael Ausiello called the season one finale "predictably flawless." [cite web|url=http://www.tvguide.com/Ask-Ausiello/070411}|title=AskAusiello Endorsement|accessdate=2007-04-11]

The show's pilot did, however, receive negative reviews as well. The "Philadelphia Inquirer"'s review was particularly negative, calling the show a "standard high school sports soap opera." The "Los Angeles Times" and the "Texas Monthly" also were critical of the show. [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/fridaynightlights|title=Metacritic Scores of Negative Reviews|accessdate=2007-03-25] [cite web|url=http://www.texasmonthly.com/preview/2007-01-01/hollywoodtx|title=MobiTV Texas Monthly Negative Review|accessdate=2007-03-20]

Season two reviews were considerably less positive than for the first, with the Landry and Tyra murder receiving particular panning by critics. The "Los Angeles Times" said that in doing so the show had lost its innocence while the "Boston Globe" said the event was "out of sync with the real-life tone of the show." [cite web | url = http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2007/10/deep-in-the-hea.html | title = 'Friday Night Lights': Returning to the heart of Dillon | publisher = "Los Angeles Times"|last=Paul| first=Brownfield|date=October 6, 2007| accessdate=2008-01-19] [cite web | url = http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog/2007/10/_theres_some_pr.html | title =Can You Forgive "Friday Night"? | publisher = "Boston Globe"|last=Gilbert| first=Matthew|date=October 9, 2007| accessdate=2008-01-19] Others were more positive, though, with "Variety" saying "faith should be shown in showrunner/writer Jason Katims" while the "New York Times" said "to hold “Friday Night Lights” to a measure of realism would be to miss what are its essentially expressionistic pleasures." [cite web | url = http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117934919.html?categoryid=32&cs=1 | title =Friday Night Lights | publisher = "Variety"|last=Levine| first=Stuart|date=October 5, 2007| accessdate=2008-01-19]

"Time" magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 Returning Series of 2007, ranking it at #4. [ [http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/top10/article/0,30583,1686204_1686244_1691403,00.html Poniewozik, James; Top 10 New TV Series; time.com] ]

Fan Response

"Friday Night Lights" is a show that has enjoyed what former NBC President Kevin Reilly dubbed a “passionate and vocal [fanbase] ”. This fan dedication has shown itself in everything from advertisers expressing their support for the show [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/kevin_reilly_of.html|title=Kevin Reilly Interview|accessdate=2007-03-30] to news outlets getting massive amounts of support mail after running positive pieces about the show. [cite web|url=http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2007/03/the_revolutiona.html|title=Chicago Tribune Fan Response|accessdate=2007-03-30]

It has also led to the creation of several websites dedicated specifically to the show. These include the general information site FNL-online.com [cite web|url=http://fnl-online.com/|title=FNL-Online|accessdate=2007-03-30] as well as several sites dedicated specifically to securing a second season for the show. Sites with this goal in mind include fightforlights.com [cite web|url=http://www.fightforlights.com|title=fightforlights.com|accessdate=2007-03-30] which has collected positive press clippings about the show, savefridaynightlights.com [cite web|url=http://www.savefridaynightlights.com|title=SaveFridayNightLights.com|accessdate=2007-03-30] which has organized an online petition for its renewal, and a MySpace page [cite web|url=http://www.myspace.com/savefridaynightlights |title=SaveFridayNightLights on Myspace|accessdate=2007-03-30] which includes video, audio and text about the show.

Fan Campaigns

After some statements made by NBC's Entertainment head Ben Silverman about the future of the show and the fact that everything seemed to point that "Friday Night Lights" wouldn't be back after the Writer's Strike, the fans put together several fan campaigns. Best Week Ever suggested sending lightbulbs to the NBC's offices. Save "FNL" Campaign [ [http://www.savefridaynightlights.tv Why We Love Friday Night Lights...And Why We Want to Keep It Around] ] raised money to send footballs and contributions to charity foundations that were related somehow to the show.

As of today the Save "FNL" Campaign has raised $15,840 for 18,750 footballs; $2061 for charity, and $924 worth of DVDs for troops stationed overseas. The first shipment of 50 boxes of footballs was sent to Ben Silverman at NBC on February 28th and the second was sent to Jeff Zucker on March 3rd.

Awards & Nominations

The series and its creators have received several awards. By far the most prestigious of these is the George Foster Peabody award for broadcasting excellence which was awarded to the show for its first season [cite web|url= http://www.peabody.uga.edu/news/pressrelease.asp?ID=142|title=Peabody Awards Press Release|accessdate=2007-04-06] . In giving their reasoning for the honor the award committee said that “No dramatic series, broadcast or cable, is more grounded in contemporary American reality [than Friday Night Lights] "cite web|url= http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-2007peabodyawardwinners,0,672922.story?track=rss|title=Peabody Quote from Zap2it|accessdate=2007-04-06]

The series also received accolades from the American Film Institute which named the show one of the ten best TV shows of the 2006-2007 season [cite web|url=http://www.accesshollywood.com/news/ah3049.shtml|title=AFI Endorsement of Show|accessdate=2007-03-24] and the Television Critics Association which made the series its most nominated show of the season with nominations for program of the year, outstanding new series, outstanding drama and individual nominations for both Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. [cite web|url=http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-2007tcaawardnominations,0,935063.story?track=rss|title=Critics Award Nominations|accessdate=2007-06-05]

Also earning distinction is the Pilot’s editing crew who were awarded an American Cinema Editors (or ACE) award for Best Editing on a One Hour Series for Commercial Television [cite web|url= http://www.ace-filmeditors.org/newace/eddieNominees.html|title=ACE Award|accessdate=2007-04-06] and the series' writing staff who were nominated for a Writer's Guild Award for Best New Series of 2007.cite web|url= http://www.wga.org/awards/awardssub.aspx?id=1516|title=WGA Awards|accessdate=2007-04-17]

The Television Critics Association unveiled its 2007 TCA Award nominations on June 5th, 2007. Once again, NBC lead the list with 13 nominations, five of which belonged to “Friday Night Lights”. Actors Connie Britton (Tami Taylor) and Kyle Chandler (Eric Taylor) both received nominations in the category of "Individual Achievement In Drama", while the show itself is nominated for "Outstanding New Program Of The Year", "Outstanding Achievement In Drama", and "Program Of The Year".cite web|url=http://www.tvcritics.org/tca/?q=node/201|title=TCA Awards|accessdate=2007-07-16]

Award Nominations & Wins

; 2006
* American Cinema Editors - Best Editing on a One Hour Series for Commercial Television - for the episode "Pilot" (WIN)

* American Film Institute - 10 Best TV Programs of 2006 [cite web|url=http://www.accesshollywood.com/news/ah3049.shtml|title=AFI Endorsement of Show|accessdate=2007-03-24]

; 2007
* Television Critics Association Award - Individual Achievement In Drama – Kyle Chandler
* Television Critics Association Award - Individual Achievement In Drama – Connie Britton
* Television Critics Association Award - Outstanding Achievement In Drama
* Television Critics Association Award - Outstanding New Program of The Year (WIN)
* Television Critics Association Award - Program Of The Year

* Writers Guild of America - Best New Series

* George Foster Peabody Award - Award for Broadcast Excellence

* Emmy Award - Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series - Peter Berg for the episode "Pilot" [cite web|url=http://emmys.tv/awards/2007pt/nominations.php|title=Emmy Awards|accessdate=2007-07-19]
* Emmy Award - Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series - Imagine Television, Film 44, NBC Universal Television Studio (WIN) [cite web|url=http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gIqu4aZx8QVGZeAf64TohAhrgZcQ|title=Emmy Win|accessdate=2007-09-10]
* American Film Institute - 10 Best TV Programs of 2007

; 2008
* People's Choice Awards - Favorite Song from a Soundtrack - "Read My Mind," The Killers
* Writers Guild of America - Best Dramatic Series
* Television Critics Association Award - Outstanding Achievement in Drama
* Television Critics Association Award - Individual Achievement in Drama - Connie Britton
* Emmy Award - Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series
* Emmy Award - Special Class Live-Action Short Program: Spotlight on Austin

Television Ratings

U.S. Ratings

Friday Night Lights has not met with much ratings success having consistently placed below 50 in the Nielsen rankings. [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/tv/seasons/2006fall/|title=Metacritic Ratings|accessdate=2007-03-18]

International Ratings

According to the "Media Guardian" (a UK newspaper) the show's pilot, which aired on February 21, 2007, was watched by a mere 26,000 viewers in the UK. This is attributed to the program airing on ITV4, the least viewed ITV channel, and being aired opposite the first leg of the Barcelona-Liverpool tie in the first knockout round of the 2006-07 UEFA Champions League in soccer. [cite web|url= http://meandthetv.wordpress.com/2007/02/25/friday-night-lights-ratings-horror/|title=U.K. Ratings|date=2007-02-25 |accessdate=2007-03-20 Not only are Barça and Liverpool two of the biggest and most storied clubs in European football (soccer), they were the winners of the previous two Champions League titles, with Barça winning in 2006 and Liverpool winning an epic final in 2005.]
In Australia, Network Ten has held onto broadcast rights since late 2006. In February 2008 it was announced that it will air exclusively on Ten HD on Friday nights at 11.05PM starting March 7 and won't be a part of Ten's regular programming schedule.In New Zealand, C4 is broadcasting the series from the pilot episode every Friday at 8:30pm from August 3, 2008.

DVR ratings

On December 29, 2006 Nielsen Media Research reported the results of having, for the first time, monitored viewers who use a Digital Video Recorder to pre-record shows for later viewing. These ratings, called "live plus seven", include all viewers who use a DVR to record the show and then watch it within a week of its initial airing.

According to the Nielsen numbers, DVR viewers increased "Friday Night Lights" ratings by 7.5% overall in December. [cite news |title=Live Plus Seven ratings from Zap2it |date=2006-12-29 |publisher=Zap2it |url=http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-studio60mosttimeshiftedshow,0,4559331.story?coll=zap-tv-mainheadline |accessdate=2007-04-01] When Nielsen monitored viewers again in April 2007 the increase went up to 17% for the week ending on April 8th. [cite news |title=Updated Live Plus Seven ratings from TV Guide|date=2006-04-26 |publisher=TV Guide |url=http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-Editors-Blog/Todays-News/Dvrs-Play-House/800013673|accessdate=2007-04-26]

These numbers are up to some debate though with Medialife Magazine reporting the "live-plus-seven-day" rating for "Friday Night Lights" as 35 percent higher than its live rating in DVR homes. [cite news |title=Media Life on Five Plus Seven Ratings|date=2006-11-09|publisher=Media Life Magazine|url=http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman/publish/article_8444.asp|accessdate=2007-04-01]

Affluent Viewers

On March 5, 2007 Media Life Magazine reported that "Friday Night Lights" is one of the most popular shows among "affluent viewers." This was determined using a report from Magna Global who in turn used analysis done by Nielsen Media Research. Affluence in the study was determined by yearly income.

In the study, "Friday Night Lights" tied for the 11th most watched show by affluent viewers. According to the study viewers of the show make an average of $65,000 per year. [cite web|url=http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman/publish/article_10573.asp|title=Affluent Viewers|accessdate=2007-03-20]

Notes

External links

* [http://giterdone.proboards57.com/ Git 'er Done - A FNL Fan Board]
* [http://www.bestweekever.tv/category/save-friday-night-lights/ KEEP THE LIGHTS ON] BestWeekEver.TV's dedicated page and petition to keep the show on the air
* [http://www.fnl-online.com/ FNL-Online] a Friday Night Lights Fansite
* [http://www.pajiba.com/friday-night-lights-season-one.htm One of the Best 20 TV Seasons of the Last 20 Years]
* [http://www.nbc.com/Friday_Night_Lights/ Official NBC Friday Night Lights Website]
* [http://www.fridaynightlightsinsider.com/ Friday Night Lights insider website]
* [http://www.myspace.com/nbcfnl Official NBC Friday Night Lights Myspace]
*imdb title|id=0758745|title=Friday Night Lights
* [http://austin.citysearch.com/roundup/42458 Friday Night Lights Taping Locations]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9sSurZXZuo Friday Night Lights on 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards]
* [http://www.fnlgallery.com FNL Gallery]
* [http://www.fridaynightlightsonline.com Friday Night Lights]
* [http://www.fridaynightlights.tv/ Fridaynightlights.tv]
* [http://dillonpanthers.free.fr Dillon Panthers: A FNL Site]
* [http://www.premiumhollywood.com/category/tv/friday-night-lights/ Premium Hollywood's Friday Night Lights blog]
* [http://www.mojoland.net Odessa Permian Sports website in Texas.]
* [http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/television/reviews/view.bg?articleid=1122552 Fans will go wild as Panthers kick off new season] Boston Herald
* [http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/television/general/view.bg?articleid=1122548 TV Hail Mary keeps football drama, ‘Friday Night Lights,’ on playing field] Boston Herald


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