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Friday Night Lights Fodder

'Friday Night Lights' Premiere Episode Online

Look, TV fans: I know television's asking a lot of you right now. In this premiere week, you're meeting bionic women, cavemen, and gossiping girls, not to mention getting reacquainted with heavy hitters like World War II and Addison Sheppard. Maybe you're already slotting your fall social life between dates with Chuck on Monday and Ugly Betty on Thursdays.

But save a little room in your schedules.

"Friday Night Lights" slips back on the NBC airwaves next Friday night, October 5, at 9/8 central. But why wait? Season two's premiere episode is already online at Yahoo! TV through Monday September 30. Reassuringly, it's a great 44 minutes of television--FNL hasn't lost its special something, although it takes a big risk by revisiting one subplot from out of nowhere. Because of the many legal issues involved with recapping a show before it's officially aired, I'll hold off on my full comments for another week, but would love any of your thoughts via the comment box below.

The free episode is the latest "hook new viewers" play by NBC, which had hoped that a summer of free online episodes, a DVD release, and continued critical hype would buoy FNL heading into season two. We'll see what happens. The show got stiffed at the Emmy awards and there are continuing questions about the cost of shooting in Austin, Texas. Given that I slid over to cover the Battlestar feed--and no one raised a peep about the lack of FNL recaps--I have my doubts.

Perhaps the most promising sign for the show is a totally unexpected endorsement. Writer Bill Simmons--a.k.a. ESPN's "The Sports Guy"--currently is pleading with his fanbase to save Friday Night Lights, which he calls the "greatest sports show ever."

Simmons' argument (that the show is incredibly well-acted, appeals to men and women alike, occasionally suffers from over-dramatizing the sports plays) won't surprise any FNL fan; however, for FNL fans unfamiliar with The Sports Guy, you may be surprised by his reach. We're not talking an Oprah-like following, but Simmons' platform gives him millions of regular readers; when he launched his podcast earlier this year, it quickly became the top download on iTunes, and any YouTube video he links to immediately gets thousands of hits. Of course, Simmons is a latecomer to the FNL cause--he'd previously admitted that he watched one episode and bailed--but it will be interesting to see where this goes, and if he'll keep agitating his readers (the crucial 18-49 demographic) to watch if the show continues to struggle.


Posted by DD on September 26, 2007 11:32 PM
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Just watched the premiere. Amazing work, though I do worry about

- BEGIN MINOR SPOILER ALERT -

the violent plot twist at the end of the episode. If a viewer hadn't seen an episode of FNL before, he or she might be put off and a bit confused. Without seeing Season One, the twist does seem almost sensational, which Peter Berg himself expressed concern over.

END SPOILER ALERT

Otherwise, terrific episode. I love how the plotlines are developing. I hope to God that the show will be awarded a full season order.

-- Posted by: Alex Pollack at October 1, 2007 3:17 AM

Completely agree that said plot twist is out-of-left-field drama with a capital D, especially for Friday Night Lights...will have more to comment later this week. Suppose that there is some upside in it, though.

-- Posted by: DD at October 2, 2007 5:00 PM

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