Starring: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Aimee Teegarden, Jurnee Smollett, Madison Burge, Grey Damon Taylor Kitsch, Zach Gilford, Adrianne Palicki,
Original Airdate: 2010
★★★ ½ (out of ★★★★)
Let's just go ahead and add Friday Night Lights to the list of shows that should have been one of TV's most watched, but for whatever reason, wasn't. Praised to high heaven by critics but ignored by audiences, the big question remains "Why?" It's easy to blame NBC, who dropped the ball with their constant schedule shuffling and lack of promotion, but you could also argue the network saved its life when they struck a deal with DirectTV extending its run for three more seasons, which is three more than anyone thought it would get. FNL may have never amassed the rabid cult following of other ratings-challenged shows that got the axe, but this lasted longer, and those who watched all five seasons still feel like part of an exclusive club. Whether you chalk it up to it being "too real" or not sensationalistic enough (its two best attributes in my mind), the show didn't catch fire nationally like it should have. But it's very difficult to care when you look back at the finished product over five years and consider the creative high it's departing on. And in achieving what no other drama in television's history can by not just surviving, but somehow thriving when most of the cast departed, there's nothing at all for fans to be disappointed about here. In keeping with that trend of final seasons never representing any series' creative pinnacle, season 5 definitely isn't its best, but it sure is great, cementing its status as being head and shoulders above any recent drama on TV.
|Coach gives the team a pep talk before State|
|Lions booster Buddy Garrity has a heart-to-heart with troubled son Buddy, Jr.|
|Julie Taylor reunites with Matt Saracen in Chicago.|
|Vince's recently paroled father, Ornette plots his son's future.|
|A depressed Tim Riggins is comforted by the returning Tyra.|
|The Taylors contemplate the decision of their lives.|
|"Clear Eyes, Full hearts, Can't Lose."|
Crafting a fully satisfying final season has to be the most difficult challenge any screenwriter or showrunner could possibly face and if you don't believe me you can just ask the Lost creators. Delivering a truly great series finale is even harder. It's near impossible to tie up every loose end, give closure to each character past and present, close the door (but leave it slightly ajar "just in case") and send all the fans home happy. So difficult is it I almost feel funny criticizing anything that goes wrong, since it's a given whatever occurs on screen won't match expectations. A couple of storylines don't work, but what does work is superb and even its minor flaws are kind of absorbing too. Whatever debate lingers about the quality of the season as a whole is tempered by the final 43 minutes, which are unarguably perfect, putting the focus exactly where it needs as the show signs off for good. Series finales are rarely ever as strong or as emotional as this. Coach Taylor's motivational catchphrase over the past five years may have been "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" but it's unlikely any loyal fans watching the final few episodes of one of television's best written and acted series will have clear eyes at the end.