Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Friday Night Lights: Just like real football

I was undecided going into Friday Night Lights as to whether this would be a show I like or not. On the one hand, I do like inspirational sports movies, which, if done correctly, are the fluffy, delicious marshmallows of the box office. But I've never liked football, much less high school football. And I didn't grow up in Texas, or anywhere near Texas, so I have no concept of the high school football craze that exists there. Add to this the extremely off-putting interview that Buzz Bissinger, the man who wrote the original book, gave with Forbes. He dismisses all TV as "silly," and you can tell that he barely even watches TV, if he does at all, because he just rehearses all the tired old arguments as to why TV sucks, picking on reality shows in particular. Actual TV critics don't even pick on reality shows anymore. It's played out. He does make the valid point that Studio 60 is a "paean" to Aaron Sorkin's genius, but it's also an unintentionally hilarious point, as he, too, is saying that his show is better - more "real" is what he says - than all the other shows out there. Precisely what Sorkin's show is saying about itself. He's not going to be winning any humble-offs against Sorkin, is what I'm saying. And at least Sorkin has the chops to back it up.

So I don't care about high school football, and I already want to kick the guy whose book inspired the show in the grill. What am I doing watching this show? Oh, right, the inspirational sports story. Well, there's not actually a lot of the inspirational sports story about it. No conflict between the coach and the players, players not really overcoming anything - the most we get is the backup quarterback having to step up after the star is taken off the field in a stretcher. And after a pep talk from the coach, he puts out a great performance and wins the game. Ordinarily, I would like that sort of story, but I just didn't feel it. Because the show is filmed documentary-style, it looks a lot like real football. Which makes it, to me, just as boring.

Even in the non-football scenes, I had problems. They updated the story and set the show in present day, but it still feels dated. It doesn't help that the star quarterback busts out an "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" line. Seriously, what is up with the resurgence of that line? It was eight friggin' years ago. Does anyone still find it funny? And there's a bit of pretentiousness to the writing that, frankly, I'm not surprised by (see above re: Buzz). Consider: we're not even out of Act I when the coach's daughter starts spelling out the parallels between Moby-Dick and the team. Guess no one ever told her rule #1 of writing: show, don't tell.


liylak said...

Awww, see, I'm a beer-guzzling, football lovin' gal at heart, which was the only reason I gave the show a chance. I got the "I love an underdog" chills too when they came back in the game and won.

The daughter is so terribly annoying. But I'm curious to see how drugs, alcohol, girls, etc play into this. Epic class battles! In Texas! Joy.

vance said...

hmm... I have to say I'm not a football luvin guy and live nowhere near Texas (or even your country) but I absolutely LOVED this show, and I loved the subtlety of it all (minus the hoochy girls and the Moby Dick reference).

Lori said...

Hmm, must just be me. I'll try it again next week.

KF said...

Okay, being in Europe at the moment, I haven't seen the show yet, but the book responsible for the show (and the movie before it) is hardly an inspirational sports story. It's seriously dark, the story of a town so utterly devoid of anything important to do, or the future hope of anything important to do, that it pins all its hopes and aspirations on high school football, with all the parents effectively turning into stage moms, abusing and demoralizing the players and ignoring every other person/situation in the town as beneath notice. Everyone and everything in the book is, when not contemptible, downright pathetic. Needless to say, the town was apparently not thrilled with the book, so when the movie went into production, they got really nervous and, I think, a bit proactive in rewriting the narrative. Apparently they succeeded.

Anonymous said...

Lori... Miracle and Remember The Titans are NOT well done sports movies.

Check out:
Raging Bull
Field of Dreams


Anonymous said...

Ah, but you saved your review with the "show, don't tell" line.