Three things you need to know: 1) I watch a fair amount of television; 2) My buddy, Vines, watches even more television than me; and 3) I think "Friday Night Lights" ("FNL") is the best show on network television. Yes, even better than "24". That being said, since I finished watching Season 3 of FNL several months ago on DirecTV and most of the world only finished the season last Friday on NBC, out of respect for all the non DirecTV subscribers, I've been waiting to write about Season 3 for what seems like an eternity. In other words, I've known this column was coming for a while, but what I didn't know was that Vines would tee it up beautifully with an email this week. Suffice it to say, his very succint and insightful breakdown of the season led to my rambling and less than coherent response. Since most of my writing in this space is rambling and less than coherent, I figure there is no better way to share my thoughts on FNL than to simply cut and paste my epic email to Vines (with some "minor" edits and redactions). I, however, have not inserted Vines's email or response to mine, but if you are curious to see his thoughts, including his brilliant Season 4 plot line for J.D. McCoy, I'm sure we can coax him into sharing. Alright, enough of the intro, let's talk FNL:
This Coach Taylor situation is the most absurd thing I've seen on TV since Whitley married Dwayne on "A Different World". How do they fire him with that resume? How did he not condition his return from a D-1 position on a lifetime contract, or at least a multi-year deal? How in the world can he possibly agree to coach East Dillon? I mean, the Mean Machine had better facilities for God's sake. If this were real life, Coach Taylor would have two dozen job offers within 24 hours of being fired. And, if this were real life, the fact that his wife is inexplicably the principal (volunteer guidance counselor to principal? Really?) of the school that just crapped on his head wouldn't keep him from taking one of those jobs. I was furious when they screwed around with the whole "he leaves and comes back" storyline last year because it seemed so absurd, but this is much worse. It's beyond absurd. I'm getting angrier as I type, so let's move on.
In true WAD fashion, here are my 7 bold predictions for next year:
1) The show will be set in 4 locales: Dillon, Nashville (Lyla at school), Austin (Tyra at school), and San Antonio St. with Riggins.
2) Riggins will be jealous because Lyla is constantly talking about and hanging around other dudes; he will miss home; he will try to go home; and Billy and/or Coach will talk him into going back. We may even get a Jason Street cameo to seal the deal. Lyla will be infatuated with some "cultured" guys at Vandy (it is, after all, the Harvard of the greater Nashville area); she will still love Riggins, but they will eventually grow apart, etc... Ultimately, they will break up and Lyla will move to Europe for a summer and that is how she will be written off the show. Or, she may just start dating the Yankees' shortstop. I'm not certain about this just yet. All of this, of course, will happily lead to Riggins unleashed in San Antonio. I'm really looking forward to this. I can promise you I will say "I wish this show was on HBO" no less than 4 times an episode during this phase of Riggins's life.
3) Coach Taylor takes the job at East Dillon. He harbors latent resentment toward Mrs. Coach because he would have taken one of those other 24 offers if her inexplicable position as Dillon High principal didn't mean so much to her. This will lead to tense moments where Coach will passive aggressively call into question Mrs. Coach's commitment to Gracie Bell, etc... This, of course, will lead to her telling him to get over being fired, stop obsessing over football, stop being so selfish, love your family, blah, blah, blah. Ultimately, as the season moves on, he will see improvement in his new team; he will connect with a few of the kids; he will remember why he got into coaching; blah, blah, blah. As all this happens, things will get better between him and the Mrs. At the same time, however, Wade Aikman and JD McCoy will be putting up 50 pts/game over at Dillon and the local radio guys will have voice overs to the effect of "Thank God Coach Taylor isn't here anymore. Two title games and one title in 3 years just doesn't cut it in Dillon." These will be bad times.
4) East Dillon will play Dillon High for the first time in decades after Dillon has one of those nationally televised interstate games against a private Catholic school in New Orleans cancelled because of a hurricane in Louisiana. Aikman will challenge Taylor's manhood at Applebee's, and despite the fact that it could never happen in the real world due to about 1,789 regulations and government requirements, they will throw the game together in a day. The Lions, with their inferior talent and rag tag uniforms (we may see a single bar facemask), will play the game of their lives, but Dillon will beat East Dillon by two touchdowns after taking a pick back to the house while East Dillon is driving for the tying touchdown late in the game. When the game is over, however, Taylor's eyes will meet Buddy Garrity's and there will be a look of recognition from Buddy that says, "We don't ever want to play them again. Taylor is going to build a giant at East Dillon."
5) As for Matt and Julie, things will go well at the beginning. Matt will work part time for a local graphic designer while attending classes at the local community college. He will also have some late night film sessions and solid bonding moments with the Coach. Then, towards the end of the season, Grandma Saracen will die. This will be very sad, and it will inexplicably (because, other than Landry, Saracen really has no friends) bring everybody back to Dillon for her funeral (we might even get a little drama if Lyla brings Derek Jeter to the funeral!). This episode will culminate with Riggins and Saracen sitting by a camp fire drinking their faces off with Riggins essentially convincing Saracen he is bigger and better than Dillon and its not fair to himself or Julie if he stays behind because of her. The episode closes with Saracen saying, "no regrets" and Riggins saying, "Texas forever". The next week, Saracen leaves Julie and enrolls in Art School in Chicago and departs from the show. We will miss him.
6) As for Landry and Tyra, you can expect the typical stuff....kind of. We expect her to go to Austin and party herself into bolivion (trademark Mike Tyson), but instead, she really takes to school and the culture, etc... She finds herself as a person and really likes who she's become. She is also more into Landry than ever, and they see each other every other weekend. Ultimately, however, Landry starts to push her away because he becomes an all-conference receiver and starts to rake in the ladies. Okay, absolutely none of this is going to happen, but I really wish it would. I think it would be terribly amusing to see Landry juggling Rally Girls.
7) Finally, we have the big finish to the season. JD McCoy will have the greatest sophomore season in Texas high school history. He will break every record and Dillon will win State. Through it all, however, the pressure from his Father will become unbearable. He will lose his passion for football and long to be a kid. This will ultimately lead to Joe McCoy again beating the crap out of JD. This time, however, JD and Mama McCoy are having none of it. They can't believe what Dillon High football has done to Joe, and they don't want to see it rob JD of his youth. The season will close with JD and Mama McCoy showing up at the Taylor's doorstep, hats in hand, and asking Coach Taylor to let JD play quarterback for East Dillon next year. And, BAM!!!! Coach Taylor is back in the game and competing for a state title in 2010!
Okay, odds are that none of this actually happens. But, be honest, if I promised you this season you would watch! Right?