Sunday, March 04, 2007

Friday Night Lights: 'Extended Families' (1x18)

I loved this show right from the first episode, and it’s always been great, but the past couple of episodes have taken things up another notch, with every aspect of the show working incredibly well. This episode was no exception, full of tension and emotion.

One of the things I loved most about Buffy was the way the show could shift from extremely intense drama to hilarious comedy instantly. This show manages to do that as well, the comedy bits are as funny as anything on television, particularly any scene with Landry. The Buddy Garrity subplot here started out with intense drama, the scene with him arguing with his wife. I love the way that was played from the kids’ perspective, we’ve seen that same argument in countless other shows and movies, shifting the perspective makes clear the impact that their potential breakup would have on the family.

From there, it shifts to a broad bit of comedy, starting with Tami talking about “something moving” on their stoop, and segueing into some great bits with Buddy as awful houseguest. The high point for me was when Buddy deduced who Eric’s meeting was with using a little something he picked up from Magnum P.I. I was laughing for a good thirty seconds after that line, mostly because of how seamlessly it flowed in the dialogue. On a sitcom, you’d have some laugh track there, letting us know that it was meant to be funny. Here, there isn’t that prompting, so the comedy feels more organic to the universe. I think comedy is always funnier in a real world setting, that’s what The Office showed us,, when you’re using the rules of real world interaction, outlandish behavior is a lot more funny than in a world where that kind of behavior is acceptable.

Anyway, from there we shift to an intense scene with Eric and Buddy arguing about his future. Buddy has no argument, not only is he squatting at this guy’s house, he’s spying on his stuff to find out personal information. Yet, he feels like he owns a piece of the Panthers, and as a result, has the right to know everything about Taylor’s plans. It brings some edge back to the relationship between Taylor and the town. Buddy is not likely to keep quiet about what he knows, setting up the dual conflict of the town wanting to win, but also wanting to know whether Taylor will be back coaching next year.

The fact that the series’ future is uncertain makes the situation a bit more tense. If the show’s coming back, obviously he won’t take the job. But, if it’s only doing one season, having Taylor move on would be a good closer. I really hope it does come back, but the convergence of that plot with the end of the season would be a good way to wrap up the series.

Pretty much every plot was working for me here, but the highlight was the continuing development of Tami’s unease with Julie’s rebellion. The implicit issue here is that Tami used to be just like Tyra, and doesn’t want to see Julie go down that same path. That really came out in her speech in the last episode, about not wanting Julie to have sex before it would mean something, but it’s also present in her empathy towards Tyra at the end of the episode.

When the party scene first started, I thought Julie was headed for some kind of major meltdown down the line, a significant act of rebellion against her parents. Now, I’m not so sure. There seemed to be a reconciliation between Julie and Tami at the end, but the logical direction of the arc would be to push them further apart. Tami now recognizes that Julie needs some space to do her own thing, so in the future, we might see Julie testing those boundaries.

It was a bit odd that Julie chose to call her mom, despite knowing how mad she’d be, but I think it worked well to demonstrate that Julie is the only one with a stable home life, and, no matter how much she might dislike the restrictions her parents place on her, in the end, she has something that none of the other characters do. Regardless, that gave us the great scene between Tyra and Tami, where they clean up the house. Again, we get a kind of resolution, but the issues linger. That seems to be the way the show wraps up episodes, finding a moment of calm to give us some closure, but always with the awareness that you can’t resolve differences that easily. The other highlight of this episode was Landry’s toast.

Yet another great subplot in this episode was the stuff with Jason and Lyla. I’m not usually a fan of these two, but this episode worked because it brought the irreconcilability of Jason’s old life and his new life into focus. Jason has found a new crew to replace his old friends, and he loves being with them, but Lyla lingers, a reminder of his old life. She has some major issues with his new friends, and I think the trip to Beijing could be disastrous for them. Again, we get a seeming resolution, with the two of them together, but it won’t last.

I even enjoyed the Tim Riggins and kid and mom subplot, something that wouldn’t work on most shows, but does here because the acting and filmmaking is just so good. By shooting the show in this realistic way, a lot of the manipulation is masked, and you just accept things as they are. If you shot this plot in the style of Gilmore Girls, it wouldn’t work, but here, it goes over. Same for the Smash and Waverly stuff, which is on the border of melodrama, but works because of the intense commitment of the actors and the fact that her behavior is genuinely unnerving.

This was another great episode, and I’m eager to see the next one. I know the show is poorly rated, and I’m pretty much assuming it won’t see a second season, but I’m confident they’ll finish strong, and maybe we’ll get the bonus of some more next year.

1 comment:

muebles en cordoba said...

I read a lot of helpful info in this post!