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Recaps, Television

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.

I blame Tim Riggins.  I had managed to keep it together for the whole episode, which surprised me.  But the last “Texas Forever,” that’s when the tears started.  I saw it coming miles away, and I knew they couldn’t end the episode without it, but it didn’t lessen the emotional impact one bit.   But I think my favorite line of the episode was when Eric said to Tami “take me with you to Philadelphia, please.”

Kyle Chandler’s delivery was gorgeous.  It was an apology, a declaration of love, and the promise of a new chapter in their lives all at once.  And the whole sequence from Buddy Garrity wheeling and dealing on the phone at an ungodly hour of the morning, showing Eric exactly what his life would be like as the coach of the new super team, to him bounding down the mall escalator, just in time to see Gracie Belle get her picture taken with Santa was perfection.

While I was watching the finale, even though I was sad that it was coming to an end, I was also proud.  There were so many times that the show could’ve been cancelled, cut down before it could live up to its potential, despite all the hard work that the writers, cast and crew so clearly put into it.

There is a television trope that has nothing to do with characters or plot.  It’s the one or two season wonder that is critically acclaimed, has abysmal ratings, and then becomes a cult favorite, always bemoaned, rightly so, as brilliant but cancelled. These are the “Firefly’s,” “My So-Called Life’s,” and “Pushing Daisies’” of the world.  Wonderful shows with rushed or somewhat incomplete endings that left me wanting more.  But this wasn’t “Friday Night Light’s” fate.

It’s true that probably many of the characters didn’t expect to be where they ended up at the close of the series.  Vince as a Panther, Jess actually achieving her dream, Luke as a soldier, Julie and Matt getting engaged in front of the Alamo Freeze, Mindy and Billy as the parents of three, Tyra Collette finding a way to both kick ass at college and reconnect with a finally rehabilitated Tim Riggins, and the Taylors on the East Coast.

But the life blood of this show was hard won victories, both on screen and off.  “Friday Night Lights” stayed on the air through a crushing writer’s strike and a significant management change at NBC.   And the fact that it got to end on its own terms, with each character getting a new beginning that was worthy of them is something to celebrate.  To which I say, come on Emmy voters.  FNL, Chandler and Britton for the W.

By the way, Robert Mays’ triumphant oral history of the show that’s currently being featured on Grantland is required reading for any “Friday Night Light’s” fan.

And some encouragement from Vulture, NYMag’s entertainment section:

Coming up…

My (coherent, I think) post-mortem on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.”



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