Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Friday Night Frights

As you (and by "you" I mean "me"), I love "Friday Night Lights." The first season was terrific, filled with great acting by a great ensemble and enough tweaks to the expected plot twists to keep me off balance. It almost didn't come back for a second season, despite holding on to every single person that sampled the show -- despite being aired on five different nights (counting reruns on Saturdays and Sundays), the six million people that watched the second episode never wavered. That's a great sign of a devoted fan base.

But the only thing worse than having a favorite show cancelled when it still has so much to offer creatively is having a favorite show renewed but then ruined by a network that recognizes its critical acclaim but decides they have to juice it up or simplify the show in order to reach a new audience, thus ruining what made the show unique and special in the first place. Recent examples include "Boomtown,""American Dreams" (in that case they just ruined the last few episodes but rushing storylines as the cancellation clock ticked away) and "Veronica Mars."

Now all the early reviews of the first episode of the new seasin (airing Friday) make me fear NBC has done it with this one. First, the network insisted there would be less football. That makes sense -- take out the football, which is the only thing that matters to most of the students and stars of the show, the job of the lead character and the passion of the entire small town the show is set in. That's like cutting down the operating scenes in MASH or the newsroom scenes on "Mary Tyler Moore."

Worse, everyone hints at some absurd, melodramatic plot twist that dominates the first episode that strains credulity and threatens to throw the entire series out of whack. Since we've already had an attempted rape, I can only assume/fear it's some sort of murder/retribution or other ridiculous development. I've gone from eagerly awaiting Friday night to fearing it. Have they ruined my favorite current show?

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