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October 10, 2006 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-10

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 7

Turn on the bright 'Lights':
NBC football drama scores

By Michael Passman
Daily Arts Writer
Here's a novel concept: a Southern town
obsesses over its high
school football team.
Oh wait, you've
seen that already? Friday Night
Hmm. Well, there Lights
was that book, that
movie and the MTV Tuesday at
reality show that 8 p.m.
ripped off the book NBC
and the movie.
But no, this is totally different. It's on
network TV, so it's an hour long, there are
commercials for "Deal or No Deal" and
they can't say "fuck." So yeah, totally dif-
ferent.
Unlike the book and the film of the
same name, NBC's "Friday Night Lights"
is not the true story of the 1988 Permian
High School football team; this is the fic-
tional tale of a similar Texas town but in
a modern setting. The show highlights a
few of the team's more interesting players
along with their coach and families in a
similar manner to the film.
It's an ambitious project for a TV show
and it's well handled. The dialogue feels

authentic, the performances are spot on,
and most importantly, the essence of the
town is accurately captured. After all,
the show isn't really about the ill-fated
standout quarterback or his backup - the
outsider who is predictably thrown into a
game after apparently never touching a
football and then transforms into a young
John Elway within a 30-second span. It's
really about the short-sighted culture of
a town that revolves around 18 year olds
playing a game against other kids. Just as
the film did, the TV show perfectly cap-
tures this America that makes boy's lives
peak at 18 and slide downhill after that
- or maybe until their kid reaches high
school, at which point they can relive their
glory days through them.
In fact, the show blends the different
elements of the town together so well that
it's almost identical to the film. Everything
from the sports-radio sound bites that
overlay transitional scenes, to the shaky-
cam that gave the film its grit - it's all
there. It's understandable why the produc-
ers didn't mess with an already-proven
formula, but it wouldn't have killed them
to put their own interpretation on the fran-
chise, especially after the film's distinct
and specific style. Most of the audience

won't mind this - they'll probably like
it, actually - but we've already seen the
movie. Show us something else.
The one unfortunate aspect of the film
carried over to the TV show is the in-game
footage. The film used a lot of quick cuts,
which worked fairly well, but when the TV
show tries it, the technique comes off as an
incoherent mess. Like all good sports dra-
mas, the show is about a lot more than the
games, but there's a lot of in-game footage,
so its important that they also get it right.
It's hard to get involved in the action or
have a semblance of what's going on when
every frame is a new shot. And in an hour-
long TV show combined with the unin-
spired soundtrack, it simply comes off as
a drag. Even worse, on the last play of the
pilot, they used slow motion in one of the
least engaging climaxes to a sports drama
in recent memory.
Minor complaints aside, "Friday Night
Lights" is a worthy extension of the fran-
chise. With a solid base of interesting char-
acters, the show is poised for a good run
as long as it stays true to its setting. Hope-
fully, when the franchise's fingers extend
to Saturday morning cartoons, Broadway
musicals and comic books, the formula
will finally be perfected.

"Cue the operatic strain, and we're all set to save the world."

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