Tag Archives: Aimee Teegarden

Friday Night Lights: Series Recap…or, Why I Love FNL and You Should Too

Victory laps are usually reserved for the revered, the celebrated or the most popular. We are just going to have to settle for the best in this case. As Friday Night Lights made its final season debut on April 15th to tie for last place in the ratings, we must think whether they deserved such an awful way to end its run. DirecTV viewers have been done with the season for months, heck , this fifth season is already out on DVD right now. From a television executive standpoint, you have to wonder, why does this show, the little show that could, even bother? Well, it is the same reason why I was asked to do this article: Friday Night Lights was one of the best damn shows on television in the last decade.

I have been an avid watcher of this show when it first launched back in 2006 to mediocre ratings. I had seen the movie and thought it was worthwhile enough to give the show a shot. Obviously no Billy Bob but hey, life is not meant to be perfect. I remember the pre-launch of the show, and that it had garnered the best reviews, some even declaring the pilot to be one of the best ever made. Granted, critics and opinions do not mean much in the world today of bloggers, or just people who troll IMDB message boards (right boss?), but it was something that had to be seen and watched. I figured, if it is a show about football, it has got to be at least watchable right?

I remember the pilot being easily being unforgettable. It had several moments of intensity, sincerity, levity and just pure fun that pulled me into its grasp. Although it had the same principle plot of the movie, (powerhouse team becomes underdog after horrible injury with a twist), the episode was very well constructed and kept the pace original and fresh to make the idea seem less stale.

That and Matt Saracen (Zack Gilford) is my boy.
That and Matt Saracen (Zack Gilford) is my boy.

Now, I admit, I have a soft spot for dramas. Not only stuff  like 24 or Boardwalk Empire or anything dealing with action and HBO, but I love The O.C. I get crapped on about it every once in a while, because let’s face it, it is not something someone would readily admit out loud. The reason I mention this was because for the most part (effin’ Oliver), the first season of the The O.C. was brilliant. They captured the dynamics of friendship, comedy, relationships so well that I wanted to hang with Seth Cohen, crush on Summer Roberts, and have awesome benefactors like Sandy and Kirsten Cohen. The humanity of people was prominent during the season, and the one thing I always noted was the dynamics of the parents relationship. Sandy and Kirsten acted like adults. They had their issues, ups and downs but they got through it because they did not have their heads up their asses. Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) are that couple.

They keep the show, and everyone involved, as grounded as possible. I give the writers a lot of credit. They threw obstacles at them, but there was not an ex, or a ridiculous plot in order drive a wedge in between the two. It was bigger houses, money , jobs…things real couples argue about in life. They were not perfect, they had their flaws. But they were perfect for that show and for each other.

Watching the first season made me come to the conclusion that it was so good, it probably would not last more than two or three seasons. This came out around the same time that Arrested Development was still struggling to find audiences despite the perfection of that show. No one gave any hope to the critical darlings that kept people entertained, or at least those that watched it. They wanted the low-concept projects that the A.D.D generation did not have to think too much about. Which is fine, I am not here to preach about peoples’ television watching habits or their tastes. I am just happy that this show was able to last five seasons after going down to wire like the Dillon Panthers and the end of every game.

Coach yelling at Riggins. Classic.

The characters drove this show, obviously being led by the Taylors (Chandler, Britton, and Aimee Teegarden) but as with any ensemble show, they are only as good as the surrounding parts. You had Jason Street (Scott Porter), Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki), Smash Williams (Gaius Charles), the Lyla and Buddy Garrity (Minka Kelly and Brad Leland), Kronner’s boy Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch), Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons – Paul), and even Grandma Saracen (Louanne Stephens) in the first season that clicked together.

Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki, and Amiee Teegarden.

Madison Burge 3As the seasons progressed, they added more characters such as Luke Cafferty (Matt Lauria – The Chicago Code), Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan), Jess Merriweather (Jurnee Smollett), and Becky Sproles (Madison Burge) for the last two seasons but it was always the Taylors that took center stage.

They responded to situations in the most human way possible, whether to compromising, arguing, and not doing overly stupid things. They were the moral compass of the show and their impact showed through the last five years in the growth of everyone, even themselves.

The second season had its hiccups with a plot to build new viewership that was just unnecessary and stupid, but we still had the same base. They rebounded the next few seasons and still helped build a consistent and entertaining show to watch.  It is interesting to think that people did not watch the show because it was about football. Or maybe, because it was not about football at all. This is a show about courage, compromise, family, and growing up. Football was just the backdrop. This could have been about basketball, baseball, badminton, whatever, it was just there to help get from point A to point B.

I truly believe that if you give this show a chance, you will walk away impressed and wanting more. There may not be explosions, Kiefer, vampires, or a mysterious island – and the concept may be boring to some, but it truly is one of the best shows on television. There is just something about hearing, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”, that just makes me smile. Give it shot and it may make you smile too.


Images: NBC, Universal, DirecTV

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Grizzly Review: Scream 4 (aka SCRE4M)

Anyone who read my Scream Retrospective earlier this week will know I greatly respected the first movie and was looking forward to this installment. When I arrived at the theater, the teenage girl behind the counter told me that the new one was ‘really awesome’, but that she had never watched any of the first 3 movies because they looked ‘stupid’ and ‘lame’. For some reason, her ringing endorsement did not instill me with confidence, even though she was clearly an expert on the franchise.

Once inside, I was surprised that a 7:45 show, on opening night wasn’t more full. The theater was probably less than 1/2 capacity, and of the kids there, probably most were still in diapers when the original was released. The movie started in the expected way, a phone call and a discussion about horror movies. This time however, it didn’t seem so fresh. Now you’re probably thinking: “Of course it’s not fresh, it’s the 4th movie“, but I was expecting something new. And they do mix it up a bit, but while I don’t want to ruin anything, this ended up feeling more like a comedy than a horror flick.

Never have I watched a movie so self-aware of how cool it’s predecessor was. Scream 4 largely revolves around talking about how great the Stab franchise is. Stab being the movie within Scream 2, based on the first movie. So here you have a script written by Kevin Williamson (who wrote the first movie) that never stops stroking Kevin Williamson’s ego.

Our 3 returning Scream Staples – Sidney, Gale, and Dewey – seem to be nothing more than charactures of themselves. Sidney has written a book about her exploits and is on tour. Her last stop is Woodsboro. Gale has settled down and married Dewey, who is now the sheriff of Woodsboro, and employees a star-studded police force that made me feel more like I was watching Scary Movie 6 than an actual canon chapter of the franchise.

Adam Brody and Anthony Anderson are deputies that define a new level of ineptitude within the genre. Sure, cops always wind up dead in horror movies, but they usually at least seem competent before hand. There is never a point in the movie where you are made to believe these could even remotely protect anyone. They’re too busy talking about how cops always get killed in horror movies. The sad part, they are the most believable cops in the movie. Marley Shelton (Sin City/Grindhouse) plays another Deputy that is openly crushing on Dewey and doesn’t care that his wife is right there. Her character is so strange you wonder how she could ever be allowed to carry a gun. No police force in film history has ever instilled less confidence. That fact is cemented by Dewey’s shooting ability, and later his hand to hand combat scene with the killer. I won’t ruin anything, but Dirty Harry he is not.

Sid is staying with her Aunt and her teenage cousin Jill. Once people start dying and phone calls are streaming in, Jill is asked to stay home for her own protection. This leads to hearing her do nothing but compare her bedroom to a prison cell annoyingly for the rest of the movie. Life is so hard.

The rest of the high schoolers are equally irritating (which may be a sign of my age), so much so that I found myself actually rooting for the killer to end them. They are headlined by Hayden Panettiere (The Cheerleader in ‘Heroes’) who is in actuality only 20, but looks about 30 in here, and was at no point believable as a high schooler. She reminded me of a college creeper who likes younger guys, or is around cause she can buy beer. Kind of awkward…

Then we have the entire ‘Gale’ storyline. Her fall from grace since becoming a cop’s wife is so epic that she basically has to beg the High School Cinema Club to hang out with her and help solve the murders! And could you find a couple of less likable film geeks than the kid with the web-cam on his head and Macaulay Culkin’s little brother? I doubt it. Randy is probably rolling in his grave.

The cast though is one thing that the franchise has always counted as a strength. The amount of name actors in this movie certainly helped add to the buzz. Aside from the actors already mentioned, we see a whole plethora of recognizable faces, including local Detroit News 4 anchor – Devin Scillian. Plus Friday Night Lights star Aimee Teegarden and Allison Brie of Community. (Thanks to Warming Glow for the picture)

Anyhow, no surprise, this movie was totally style over substance.  To be fair, there were a couple of parts I liked. The Kristen Bell scene was good, and there is a fight where a girl gets smashed into a picture on the wall, that was hilarious. But there was no point at which I jumped, nor saw anyone else around me jump. Normally, no matter how cheesy the movie is, a horror movie audience will always have a few girls who actually scream at the ‘scary’ parts. I heard none of that, but there was quite a bit of laughing…

In the end the movie came off obnoxiously pretentious and so self-aware that you can’t help but think that between this and Scream 3, the franchise has hurt the genre just as much as helped it. This is why I was so surprised to find that it has a critics score 59% on Rotten Tomatoes. That means 59% of the reviews were favorable. That’s about 6 out of every 10 critics gave it a passable grade. I guess I’d be in that 41% minority…

I give Scream 4 a score of 2 Bears. 1 Bear, out of respect for the original movie. And another Bear for putting Kristen Bell and Allison Brie in one movie.