Saturday, February 21, 2009

Like Being Green Is Easy Either

Friday Night Lights: It's Not Easy Being JD McCoy
Season 3, Episode 6

Thank heavens. I has honestly worried the writers and directors might just leave JD as some rich 2.0 version of Voodoo Tatum, the New Orleans refuge that nearly destroyed the team chemistry in season one. Tonight we see more of the boy than we have in the entire show thus far and pretty much put to bed the idea of him being a clone of Big Bad Joe. So now maybe we can start to build a cast for the Panthers in future seasons beyond just perennial bench warmer Landry. And even if the freshman superstar gets some crazy adventures with Riggins and a sweet locker next to Peter Berg... the highlight this week is the struggles of Street, who shares some time with his old coach and makes the living room pretty dusty when talking to his baby over the phone. Don't forget there's spoilers beneath the cut while we learn "It's Not Easy Being JD McCoy."

Anytime you can start an episode with Riggins and the seniors organizing a running of the Naked Mile, tricking JD into running two and ending with the Coach asking, "Son, where are your pants." It's off to a good start. The main storyline of the episode is Coach forcing Riggins into a mentoring relationship with the young QB who has to keep his focus against a team that mostly seems to not relate to him, or like to him.

Of course Coach gets Riggins to help with the reminder that he won't be a Panther after this year... and honestly they need some of the younger actors to come back with Lyla, Tyra, Matt and Riggs all graduating (in at least Riggs and Lyla's case it's okay to say "at last" considering they were respectively Street's best friend and girlfriend when he was graduating two years ago).

"Get in the truck 1-2!" What can you say about the Riggs' tour of Dillon with highlights including the Landing Strip, the real Rally Girls, fans and burgers at Fran's Hamburgers 24-7 and of course, "We got Smitty's - dive bar. Know me as Toby, two time Iraq veteran." And of course the home of Lisa, a girl... you'll know. Anytime the nickname the Naked Gun is adopted, you know things will work out from that point of view.

At least we still have a villain this year in the insanely overbearing Joe McCoy, who has raised his son to have the utter singular focus of being a great quarterback. To see him immediately shoot down the idea of his boy even thinking about girls or going out with the guys after the victory makes us loath him and sympathize with his son at the same time. By the end it hurts to see him absolutely destroy the kid's confidence and all the good will Riggins had built up for JD with the team in the locker room.

I've been an unabashed Matt-Julie fan since episode one, so when they broke up for no good reason (i.e. some jerk called The Swed) in the season two premiere that season was already on my bad side. To see them get back together now as Matt and JD's lives on and off the field are heading in opposite ways. Every scene with Zach Gilford and Aimee Teegarden is great, not just with what they say, but the greatest nonverbal moves they make. From the nervous feet in the supermarket and the coy smiles, we know where this one is going.

Their trip to the lake plays perfectly with them in the place we knew they weren't ready for two years ago in "I Think We Should Have Sex." Plus, Matt perfectly shares my opinion of hot dogs... good to know. Like that first season episode, this week's reinforces the idea that both these actors should have successful careers after the show ends, which is something I don't think I'm looking forward to. And like that previous episode, which included The Talk... the single greatest Tami Taylor moment in the history of the show, Mrs. Taylor here gets to catch the look between the two in church the day after the lake trip... and you know she knows. It's always refreshing when this show remembers that some of the best moments don't need to be said aloud. The entire morning after sequence is a home run for everyone involved, especially Teegarden.

As much as we'll miss the smile of Gaius Charles, the ever-struggling optimism of Scott Porter as Street will be just as sadly missed. His child and baby mama moving to the east coast pretty much tells us where he'll end up at the conclusion of his four episode arc. This week he's got to overcome the struggles of getting some money to make a start by managing to fix up and turn Buddy's old house.

Meanwhile the idea that he has to deal with a moderately dedicated Herc and Riggs and a man like Billy Riggins that staples his own hand to the wall and buys a $1600 toilet (the Cadillac of Toilets). Against all odds, it's nice to see him get a boost at the end there with Coach Taylor, who along with Tami, don't have too many moments in this episode as the younger stars carry the work load. But Coach's wisdom continues to reinforce how great this show is and what a seemingly honest approach . It's great that Coach and Riggs both piss off their respective ladies to step up for Street and JD in place of a school dance. And they can always fall back on the fact that Eric and Tami only need about 15 seconds to shine.

The final scene with Street singing to his baby son over the phone is where the dust kicks in and things get emotional. Since he and the baby mum obviously feel a lot more for each other than they let on, it's absolutely critical these three end up back together.

Other things I loved:

Crucifictorious Returns! And even if Castor is gone, I love that he absolutely knows that Jimmy the drummer will be back next week. And of course with the arrival of Devon, we continue to learn Landry is a chick magnet... punk Christian rock bands and sitting on the Panthers bench just work for the ladies I guess.

Drunk JD... it's just plain endearing.

I think I've figured out how to turn off my mind to the Tyra-Cash storyline this week. A critical development in enjoying this otherwise terrific season. It's never fun to see a character that has come so far in danger of mixing up with someone well... he has a freakin kid! Do not believe this person.

Grandma Saracen's anger at Coach and the confrontation in the grocery store where she can't stay mad at him for more than 10 minutes... he is rather lovable.

Lyla doesn't show up for half an episode, always a bonus... especially when wearing a short dress and cowboy boots. Minka Kelly has limited uses, but tonight she's not half bad.

The idea of ending a game with a 14 point victory and taking a knee, as opposed to a last second Hail Mary or triple reverse... the most realistic ending to a game in the history of the show.

Final score: 4 stars out of 5

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