For those of you unfortunate enough not to have DirecTV in your area, and have been deprived of seeing this whole new season of "Friday Night Lights," take heart. Friday 16, NBC will start airing the remarkable episodes that have been already been shown on DirecTV.
Warning: As good and as riveting as the high school football-as-soap-opera show has been in the past, this season is even better.
For one thing, Dillon High's Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) has to come to grips with the horror that his two most promising athletes, Jason Street (Scott Porter) and "Smash" Williams (Gaius Charles), both of whom graduated, sustained career-ending injuries under his watch. In Street's case, of course, he sustained life-altering injuries and is paralyzed.
Then, there's Taylor's wife Tami (Connie Britton), who has been named principal of Dillon High and must somehow come to terms with a school that has 14-year-old textbooks, no chalk or other supplies and, yet, has plenty of money for football. On the one hand, football is all that the townies have to look forward to in this bleak area and, for another, for the football stars at least, it's their ticket to ride. On the other hand, all the students are being short-changed in academics, the way out for the non-athletic kids who want to go to decent colleges.
In the first episode, the Panthers' football boosters have raised a lot of money for a Jumbotron. No other school in the area has one. Principal Taylor knows that kind of money should be used for academic supplies, not a giant screen. Can she redirect the money without being tarred and feathered?
You'll be happy to know our favorite kids are back, although this will be the last year at school for many of them. Right off the bat, or maybe that's the kickoff, we're caught back up in their love lives, their desperation, their dependence of football as their passport to popularity and importance.
J.D. (Jeremy Sumpter), the new, rich freshman from Dallas, with the magnificent arm, the professional coach and evil rich father, Joe (D.W. Moffett), proves to be both a great QB and an abused kid. Dad Joe rules the boy with a redneck ruthlessness and tries to buy off Coach Taylor with whiskey and Cuban cigars. He even attempts to coach his son during games. Now, really, do you think Coach Taylor is going to put up with that?
A brilliant season that deserves another and another.