Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Posts Tagged ‘Friday Night Lights’

East and West: Friday Night Lights (S4: E1)

Posted by CJ Cregg on May 7, 2010

Confronting the East Dillon Lions

Clear eyes, full hearts!  FNL is back on NBC for season 4.  For those of you lucky people who have DirecTV and have already seen this whole season, shhhhh!  Don’t ruin it for me.

I don’t really remember what happened last season, but now it’s August, and Dillon has been divided into 2 high schools: East and West.  Coach Taylor is now the coach of the East Dillon Lions.

Time to meet the new East Dillon Lions.  Seems like a rough, undisciplined bunch.  My grandma could run tires better than they can.  Good thing they have Coach Taylor to whip them into shape.  The only familiar face here is Landry who is hoping to get some playing time.  Or just lives in the bad part of town.  Cue inspirational speech by Coach telling them to work harder.

The cops bring a troubled teenager to Coach Taylor to see if he can get him out of trouble by channeling his energy into football.  I think we have a new Smash Williams.

Tami Taylor is now the principal at West.  Methinks this is gonna be a problem between her and the Coach.  Coach is trying to filch assistant coaches from West Dillon.

The Men in Red

College life doesn’t seem to be agreeing with Tim Riggins.  Matt is at Dillon Tech and struggling to get people to understand his artistic point of view.  He’s still dating Julie and delivering pizza.  And not happy about it.  Billy is mad at Riggins for slacking off in college.  His wife is expecting, so he wants Tim to grow up and get out.

Tensions are incredibly high in Dillon as parents angry about subpar Dillon East yell at Tami, new teammates brawl on the field, the Riggins brothers go at it, and Matt and JD have a confrontation at a party.

Julie tells her family she wants to go to East Dillon.  Tami ain’t having it.

And now it’s Friday!  Cue inspirational speech by Coach about the transformative potential of football.  He teaches his new team the chant!  “Clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”  (Awesome moment, btw.)  We see shots of the two different football games.  The hopping stands at West Dillon and the bare bleachers at East Dillon.  The East Dillon Lions are getting pummeled in their first game.  They’re losing 45-0 at the half.  Coach Taylor comes out to forfeit the game because his players are bruised and bloody.  CRAZY.

Kyle Chandler was once again fantastic.  I love the ownership he takes of his team.  The intensity.  And there was FOOTBALL in this episode!  FNL is at its best when it foregrounds football.  The scrappy talent of the East Dillon Lions vs. the polished perfection of the West Dillon Panthers is a story line we’ve seen before, but I can’t WAIT to see it play out this season.  I do wish I knew where Lyla and Tyra were, though.  In this episode, we met some new characters that it should be interesting to get to know as well.  I have to admit, I was really skeptical about NBC renewing this show after a mediocre last season and its core cast supposedly graduating.  But maybe it’s just cuz I missed this show, I am looking forward to this season!


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Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…

Posted by CJ Cregg on January 20, 2010

Can’t wait for Friday Night Lights to be back on NBC!

Can't lose!

For those unable to afford DirecTV and anxiously awaiting the return of our favorite football team to NBC, the wait is [nowhere close to actually being] over.
Season 4 of Friday Night Lights will begin airing on NBC on April 30th at 7 PM.

What will happen as college approaches for our graduating seniors?  Will Julie and Matt stay together?  What will Tyra do about TU?  Will the Dillon Panthers actually be any good this year?  Will that new QB stop being such a tool?  Will Tim Riggins ever stop being so damn attractive?  Only time will tell.

Of course, for those of you that have DirecTV, you’ve known the answer to these questions for awhile now.  But don’t tell me what happens.  I want to hear it straight from the panther’s mouth.

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Moltisanti’s Best TV Shows of the Decade

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on December 31, 2009

1. The Sopranos

The best. Ever.

David Chase’s deeply perceptive realist drama attracted audiences with the promise of mafia intrigue. In reality, however, the mob was a supporting character in this study of modern American family life. It covered immense thematic ground—everything from generational conflict to the power of parents to our inability to cope with death to, well, the elusive meaning of life. Though set in a specific time period, this is a show that makes universal commentary on human nature. Its ideas and characters can be placed in any context at any time throughout history and still be valid. That’s the mark of great art, and that’s why it’s the best show I’ve ever seen.

2. Mad Men

Heavily influenced by The Sopranos, both stylistically and thematically, Mad Men has slightly less ambitious goals. And when I say slightly, I mean it attempts to capture the changing social fabric of America in the 1960s. So, yes, it’s still an ambitious show, and so far, a near-perfect one. Novelistic in its emphasis on specific themes, stylish beyond anything on TV and, like The Sopranos, touched with dark humor, Mad Men is the finest entertainment on television today. It’s already established itself in the pantheon of great television. Depending on how the next few years turn out, it could move even higher.

3. Arrested Development

Arrested Development is the funniest show I’ve ever seen. Its smart rapid-fire comedy was too, well, smart, for a mainstream TV audience, but its style makes it one of the most re-watchable shows I’ve ever seen. Will Arnett made my best actors list, but all the major players here (and the many guest stars) are brilliant. There are too many wonderful plotlines to mention here, but, if you haven’t seen it, go get in on DVD now. You won’t be disappointed.


4. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm is a close second to Arrested for “best comedy of the decade” honors. Its dissection of every day annoyances as seen through the eyes of the perceptive (some might say tiresome) David retreads ground from Seinfeld (albeit with edgier plotlines and more vulgarity). The show’s loose, improvised style lets its talented cast shine. Let’s hope David keeps it on the air for at least a few more seasons.

5. Deadwood

David Milch’s Deadwood is about the creation of a civilization—and the compromises, the odd alliances, the brutality, and, sometimes, the human decency that accompany it. Written in a unique, almost Shakespearian style and anchored by several strong performances, Deadwood is a powerful, gritty Western with a lot to say about human motivation.

6. 24

Save for a disastrous sixth season, 24 has been one of the most consistent shows on TV this decade. Season one is arguably the most compelling season of television of all time, and it’s ending proved that the writers were willing to push the envelope of network TV conventions. Six seasons later, the show is still going strong, coming off a series-saving seventh season that proved that it is still the most compelling hour on TV. He may not be the absolute best character, but Jack Bauer will be the defining character of a troubled decade marked by terrorist threats and muddied rules of engagement.

7. Friday Night Lights

FNL is a powerful portrait of middling, average people weighed down by expectations and visions of grandeur. Its plot is the stuff of classic literature — characters with lofty ambitions and dreams operating in an imperfect world muddled by personal flaws, social divisions and tragedy. It’s a show that captures the redemptive power of sports — for both fans and players. So, next time you wonder why people get so invested in athletics, watch this show, and you’ll understand.

8. The Office

The British version is great too, but I’ve only seen a few episodes, so I’m sticking with the one I’m familiar with. Steve Carrell is the reason this show makes the list. Michael Scott does mind-blowing things, but, as Feeney noted, we’re still sympathetic to him. The supporting cast is great as well, and, the show brilliantly captures the drudgery, personal conflicts and politics of office life.

9. Lost

Great characters make Lost a top 10 show

After a scintillating first season, this show went downhill. Not quickly, but steadily. Based on what the writers have been saying about their commitment to getting back to character development in the final season, I’m optimistic about the end of the series. Still, Lost offers lessons to writers and TV execs everywhere. It’s the characters, stupid. Sure, the mysteries of the island made the show that much more addicting, but the series’ ability to craft a handful of deep, compelling and conflicted characters made it a success.

10. The West Wing

Maybe I’m just bitter that it beat The Sopranos at the Emmy’s multiple times, or maybe it’s because I don’t love Aaron Sorkin’s writing style, but I was never enamored with this show. Still, this was a strong series for a long time that gave us a unique inside look into the workings of the White House. It’s a fascinating premise, especially for political observers, and, for the most part, it was a solid show.

P.S. I know, I know. The Wire is missing. Before any of you David Simon acolytes lose your heads, rest assured that I have the DVDs and have started watching it. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it will easily make this list. Once I finish the series, I’ll amend the list and give the show it’s rightful due. So, sorry West Wing, you’ll soon be a goner.

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CJ’s Best TV Actors of the Decade

Posted by CJ Cregg on December 27, 2009

We’re running out of time to bring you the best of the 2000s.  So, here for your viewing pleasure, I present my five best TV actors of the decade.  Now, this will be a brief list because most of these actors have been mentioned for their skill on my best characters of the decade list.  However, when I selected those to include on my character list, I

Intensity? Check.

selected characters that I thought would be remembered, not necessarily those that are the most skilfully portrayed (although these are often one and the same.)  But since the criteria are a bit different for the two lists, they are slightly different.  Here we go.

1) Martin Sheen (The West Wing)-Martin Sheen brought just the right stuff to an incredibly complex character.

He was remarkably consistent as president Jed Bartlet, but very believable in his reactions to trying situations.

2) Kiefer Sutherland (24)-Jack Bauer.  Come on.  What else do I need to say?  (Jack Bauer would come and kill me if I didn’t put Sutherland on this list.)

3) Hugh Laurie (House)-This was the most popular show in the world in 2008.  And House is another fascinatingly complex character to portray.  Laurie brings an air of believability to such an ‘out there’ character.  He deserves recognition for this feat.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose

4) Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)-Perhaps only upstaged by Connie Britton, Chandler does a remarkable job as Coach Eric Taylor.  Firm as a coach and undying in his love for the game, Chandler brings a notable passion to his role.

5) Jon Hamm (Mad Men)-I haven’t seen much of this show.  So I may as well admit to just putting Hamm on the list because I think he’s cute.  Also because I’m looking forward to getting into this show (FINALLY) when I get back to Madison.

Honorable Mention

Steve Carell (The Office)

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)

Naveen Andrews (Lost)

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Best Actresses of the Decade

Posted by Mr. Feeny on December 17, 2009

Continuing our list of Decade Bests…and to show I don’t hate women after I kept them out of my Best Characters list…here are the five actresses who shined above all others from 2000-2009. Technically, I guess if someone was on a mostly 90s show but had an amazing season this decade, that could count. But I don’t think we’ll run into that. Unlike my character list, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the performances that defined the decade. Just the ones that really stood out.

I see the actor/actress lists more like a sports dynasty. Were the Yankees the best team of the decade? They won the first and last World Series and performed well almost every year in between. The Patriots? The Lakers? Every year’s a little different,  but a dynasty is created. That’s the case with this list. Great actresses boost their significance to the decade by being spread across multiple shows and platforms. Which is exactly what THE Actress of the Decade did.

1) Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock) — There is no doubt in my mind that Tina Fey was the biggest actress of the 2000s. Let’s look at it chronologically. First off, she had nothing on her TV resume before the end of the 90s and now she’s one of the most famous actresses in the country. She ascended to the top of Saturday Night Live’s pecking order early this century, quickly becoming a fan favorite. She transitioned that success into the incredibly popular movie Mean Girls (which she wrote…as she did most skits on SNL). And after leaving Saturday Night Live, what did Fey do to keep up? Created and wrote 30 Rock, a hilarious comedy that has won the Emmy every year since it’s creation, and given Fey two individual nods. Oh, and if that’s not enough, Fey became even more popular with her spot-on impression of Sarah Palin during the 2008 election…also earning her an Emmy. She might be the funniest actress since Mary Tyler Moore…and is definitely the best female writer. It’s Tina Fey’s world and we’re just watching it.

2) Edie Falco (The Sopranos) — How do you play the devoted wife of a killer and not seem like a naive sap? The way Falco did. Carmella always knew what was going on. She saw through Tony’s BS and chose to stay with him, because she herself had problems. But Falco fought to make her character strong, not just a victim of circumstances. Every decision Carmella made, be it small (getting her kid’s form signed) or large (having or not having an affair), Falco showed the power inside her character. Scenes with Gandolfini were always riveting, and unlike some other acclaimed dramas, I never screamed for the lead female character to get off the screen (ahem, Mad Men). The whole range of human emotion could be seen in Falco at any given moment. A flicker of her eyes could tell you what she was thinking. Fantastic dramatic actress.

3) Allison Janney (The West Wing) — The actual West Wing — and all of DC for that matter — is a boy’s world. And fast paced scripts from Aaron Sorkin seemed almost intended for those good old boys. But CJ Cregg was just as much a part of the decision making and fast talking as anyone else in that White House. And that’s thanks to Janney. She managed to find in Cregg the difficult balance of professionalism and compassion, often finding pet concerns or uncovering painful realities that she, as a political outsider, struggled with. When she disagreed with a decision, she let it be known before going about her job. I still don’t like the writers’ decision to promote her to Chief of Staff, but even in that role Janney evolved and gave CJ a new outlook. She almost became Leo. If you need proof that Janney belongs on this list, watch “The Long Goodbye.” The only episode of the series where one character goes off and has an entire episode just to her or himself. The acting in that episode alone is one of the best performances of the decade.

4) Glenn Close (The Shield, Damages) — I love Glenn Close’s masterful performance in Damages but was hesitant to include her after just two seasons. Then I remembered she was in The Shield, which I heard fantastic things about…plus it earned her an Emmy (as did Damages). A pair of Emmys is a good place to start for being one of the best TV Actresses of the Decade. I can’t speak on her Shield performance, but as Patty Hewes, Close dominates every scene she’s in. You can’t take your eyes off her. You never know what she’ll say next or, more importantly, how she’ll say it. The most common phrase can become a biting judgment. Her eyes will turn you to ice, her smile make you squirm. It’s actually very similar to her role as Cruella de Vil…only much more dramatic.

5) Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) — After three seasons, it’s criminal that Britton hasn’t been nominated for an Emmy. Especially in an awards association that relies so heavily on critics over viewers. As Tami Taylor, Britton exhibits every single quality that makes the others on this list award-winners. She has the resolve of Close, the complexity of Falco, the compassion of Janney. Even some humor…though not on Fey’s level. Plus, she improvises a large part of her scenes with Kyle Chandler, showing her natural acting chops. She makes her role as a small town coach’s wife and school principal seem about as realistic as a show can get. And as anyone who acts knows, “not acting” is one of the toughest skills there is.

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