Friday, March 13, 2009

What Time is It? Game Time.

Friday Night Lights: Game of the Week
Season 3, Episode 9

Doesn't it feel like too soon to be in the home stretch this year? Still I'll take 13 episodes of the quality we've seen this year over a full 20 episodes of Season Two quality. And now that we've wrapped up farewells for Smash and Street, the next five episodes have some high expectations to live up to. With full episodes dedicated to the current Panthers, it appears that they'll be a bit more screen time, especially with the Saracen family storyline.

Prepare for some happiness below the cut, because nothing can live up to the pleasure of saying goodbye to the idiotic Cash the Cowboy storyline. Even if we have to crawl to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to. Five hundred yards... the length of five football fields.

The title revolves around this week's first round playoff game, which is being broadcast nationally. And its worth it just to see Coach's pissed off face that the television crews and not the game is going to be on his players' minds. This is a guy that would rather have his team playing in the mud in a self-made field in a cow pasture than frolicking on NBC... pfff... stupid NBC.

Let's deal with Riggins as he starts his life post-Street, returning to a busted truck and a poor, drunk and Mindy-less Billy. And then he gets a visit from a San Antonio State recruiter. And thank heaven its a mid-level college and so much has been built towards him getting an offer (i.e. Street's video). But of course its perfect with all the uninvolved looks Tim has been giving for weeks that he just can't see this for himself. Why try for something impossible when you can get drunk with your brother and try to score with Lyla.

Speaking of the Queen Bee of Dillon, Lyla's traditional nagging at least is useful in pushing Riggins to a better place in his life. And she even gets some bonding time with Mindy Collette. Ah, the difficulties of loving a Riggins. Time to rock out to Katy Perry, read some Cosmo and establish anti-Riggins force fields. I promise the scene redeems itself when Billy pulls the "STELLA!" routine to get his lady back. Lyla actually has a nice moment when she drops her head, realizing she's probably about to do the same thing.

The game scenes are nice, though it seems to be lacking a real sense of excitement early on in both the team and the crowd. I mean, come on guys! This is the playoffs! Thank heavens for Coach's halftime speech. Kyle Chandler always brings it for these types of scenes. He even manages not to crack a smile when talking about the defense carrying the team. Defense??? C'mon coach! There hasn't been a significant defensive player in three years. For all we know Saracen and Riggins play linebacker.

In the story that is the biggest pain and the greatest relief simultaneously, Cash proves to be the angry hick that will drag Tyra down into a terrible story and blow up in a fit of undeserved rage. Wow, only saw that coming inside of 15 minutes. I hate Cash so much, no more so than when he breaks out the Ricky Bobby "Second place is first loser" routine. Bastard even manages to ruin Tami's birthday when they need to come get the poor girl. They were going to steal hotel robes, damn it! But it is nice to see Coach stare him down while Tami heard Tyra in a car headed back to Dillon and some resemblance of sanity. Coach puts the break on this shit right quick without hardly a word or movement.

I look forward to Adrianne Palicki getting back into the swing of things as Tyra. Her phone call with Landry is the best scene she's been involved in for weeks now. It's been an absolute shame to see her pushed into the periphery with this completely out of character story.

And Eric put so much effort into setting up a romantic evening and gets bonus points for seeing through his wife's "I don't want any birthday" routine. It's utter hilarity exemplified when he explains his plan to Julie.

Julie: I can set up the bag and watch Gracie, but Dad, I'm pretty sure Mom didn't want her birthday celebrated at all.

Coach: That's her problem.

The scenes in the Saracen household are pure acting gold. Matt being torn between what he might want for himself and that overwhelming sense of responsibility he has. It's been like a boulder wrapped around his shoulder since the second episode of the series. His mom dealing with her own regret from abandoning her son and pushing him to considering college options. Grandma lashing out in fear of losing him. And to see him coming out of halftime at wide receiver sends them running out of the house together. It's a great reminder that Matt is what matters most to both of them. But we need to ignore the idea that they weren't at his senior year playoff game in the first place!

But at least we get a great scene out of it. And in the end, that's what we're here for... it isn't utter realism in the football. Just give us some emotion, kick up that rocking theme music. To quote Coach, "There 'ya go. There 'ya go."

Final score: B+

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