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Monday, October 15, 2007
TV Round-Up
Friday Night Lights: Bad Ideas
One of the many things I love about Friday Night Lights that I love so much is that despite the fact that the show is a fictional one, just about everything about the show and the stories feels authentic. I know a lot of shows have tried to acheive that quasi-documentary feel to them, some to greater success than others for humorous value, but there isn't a show out there that just captures the fact that you're getting a glimpse into the lives of these characters as much as this show.

Which is why the whole Trya/Landry subplot is sticking out like a sore thumb.

Let me first say I like some parts of where the plot is taking us. Seeing it push Tyra and Landry together is a nice touch and the scene with Landry telling Tyra she knows how he feels and that he'd do anything for her was nicely done and unflinchingly honest. (And teased exactly in the wrong way by the NBC promo that aired during The Office). And as the two sat in Landry's bedroom, kissing as the episode ended, I was reminded of the quote from Speed about relationships that begin under intense pressure don't always work out or last.

That said, I'm still not sold on the melodramtic nature of the plotline itself. I'm wavering of if I think the Landry's discovery of his watch was some kind of reaction based on guilt or if it will actually become a plotline later. If it's guilt, then I like it. If it's a clue that links Landry to the murder later, I'm not going to be quite as happy.

The rest of the episode worked for me. The unflinching honesty in portraying just how draining the separation of Eric and Tamy is was incredible. Seeing Tamy slowly fall apart in the first two episodes of this season has been incredible. Seriously, how did Connie Britton not get an Emmy nod last year? The scene in the new guidance councellor's office as Tamy loses it in front of him felt as awkward as it should have in every respect. And watching Tamy go from confident on the phone with Eric to losing it in the hospital when Grace is sick was wonderful. The look on her face when the doctor said something about her husband helping her out....yeah, just engrave her name on the Emmy statue now. It was that good.

And Eric's situation. I think there was a lot more to the comment "I bet you were a great high school coach" than meets the eye. It's one of those compliiments that you wonder if it was really a compliment. Yes, his speech might have caused the NCAA committee to look more favorably on the spoiled athlete he defended. But I have a feeling that could come back to bite Eric, leaving him without a job and a way back to Dillon. And you can tell that he's torn--his heart isn't really in anything he's doing. He wants so desparately to be with his family, but also to follow his dream. And as we look at what's happening, it seems he's not giving his all or best to either of his roles right now because he's torn.

And then Tamy states outloud for the first time that maybe this whole him in Austin, her in Dillon thing was a bad idea. I think we only have to look at Julie to see that bearing out. Watching last week's episode, we saw how the Taylor household functioned better with both parents there....

Meanwhile, things aren't looking too hot for Buddy Garrity. Now while Buddy is a pain in the rear, I think Eric understood the politics of the town. You get Buddy on your side, he's loyal. I have a feeling if the team loses a game ,the new coach's supporters will turn on him and drop him like a hot potato. Which while Eric had a few stumbles early-on last year, Buddy never dropped his support. Sure, he went too far bringing in VooDoo, but Buddy never left Eric hanging out to dry. I have a feeling this is what will be the downfall of the new coach. That and he didn't come up through the Dillon ranks. If the team loses, you can bet the blame will fall to him and his new style of coaching.

Bionic Woman: Sisterhood
After a first episode that felt too rushed and a second episode that felt disjointed (turns out it was two scripts smashed into one story), Bionic Woman finally gives us an episode that lives up to its promise and potential. The story was by producer David Eick and you could almost hear him saying, "This is how the show is going to succeed" on every scene.

First of all, I had no idea it was part one of two. Nice surprise there.

The first two weeks, we had some heavy-handed exposition. Jamie was apparently chosen to be a Bionic Woman, Will lied to her about their relationship, Sarah is slowly self-destruction, the group Jamie works for is trying to stop some kind of global forces of evil. But this week, we finally got to see all those elements in play in a way that actually worked instead of feeling like the neon-sign screaming "foreshadowing" or "backstory" was going off.

Sarah comes to Jamie, seeking her help. Jamie is apparently the Bionic Woman 2.0 and has some upgrades that will help Sarah survive. But only if Jamie goes with Sarah. Sarah won't go into the group that financed and employs Jamie. I guess killing 14 people will do that for you. I do like that the series addressed how Sarah survived the bullet to the brain. It's not exactly the most convincing argument, but at least the series answered the question instead of leaving it hanging. Sarah and Jamie engage in an almost Buffy and Faith-like give and take. Jamie is bristling against her new destiny and seeing it as a limitation on her life while Sarah has fully embraced it and has less of a moral compass. Seeing the two debate over the morality of what was done, as well as finding out what drove Sarah mad was nicely done. And I've got to wonder--the fact that Jamie was hurt in a collision with a semi and that Sarah lost her sister in a collision with a semi...that seems to bit too obvious a coincidence. Is there some connection?

The episode itself had a lot of tension. Seeing Jamie torn about whose side she was on or should be on was nicely done. Seeing her de-active and activate her tracker to save her sister worked. And seeing she and Sarah bond a bit only to have that trust fall apart worked well. I like the tension of this relationship and the fact that you can see how both sides are struggling here. There's shades of gray to both sides and not just one is good and one is evil. Again, back to the Buffy and Faith thing...Faith went to the dark side, but you could see why she did. Same thing with Sarah.

I will admit the one part that I didn't buy so much was the "let's guard the diplomat's teenage daughter." It was OK, but the ending where rebellious teenage girl sees the light after attack and saving by the Eastern European country mafia goons...yeah, a bit much. Of course, I guess we should be thankful it wasn't Jamie battling Bigfoot.

So, I'll admit it--I was wavering on this one, but I'm a bit more sold now. I think the show is starting to show signs of life and delivering on the promise. I can only hope the audience that was driven away last week comes back and sees that the show is getting good now.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/15/2007 10:13:00 AM | |
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