Thursday, April 28, 2011

Friday Night Lights "Perfect Record" Review

The final season of Friday Night Lights finally took shape in the seventh episode of the season. While not ideal for a TV show to wait so long to give the season an identity and purpose, Dawson's Creek NEVER gave their final season any purpose or identity. I knew FNL would eventually state what it wanted the season to be. "Perfect Record" cemented the various building blocks in the season into place. The recruitment process became a whole lot uglier, Ornette became the fictional equivalent of Cam Newton's father, the East Dillon Lions emerged as fiction's own Oakland Raiders, Coach's endgame became slightly clearer. All in all, it was a riveting 43 minutes of television. "Perfect Record" is the kind of episode I dig--completely driven by its core characters and without unnecessary melodrama.

Rivalry week came and went without much drama in Dillon, Texas. Well, the Panthers managed to find the criminal records of several East Dillon players. Aside from that, everything else was fry bread. The breach of privacy angered the involved players who felt violated and vulnerable. Specifically, Vince worried whether his recruitment would take a hit because of his criminal past. Fortunately, FNL didn't portray college coaches as sanctimonious or righteous individuals who value high character over anything else. Ornette assured his son that the recruiters continued to call, which is how it should because. Sports, in general, aren't a foundation for good morals. I mean, teams try to deceive themselves as valuing character and class above all but even a malcontent like Jimmy Smith will be drafted in the first round tonight--he'll just go in the 20s rather than the top 20 or top 10. If the player has the talent, he'll be fine as long as his off-the-field issues doesn't destroy his career. Vince transformed himself from a criminal malcontent into a role-model and ideal citizen in Dillon. He'll be fine.

The recruitment process has transformed Vince's ego and arrogance though. Ornette's somewhat responsible for his son's behavior. Right now, Vince is on delicate ground. The man who pulled him out of a squad car and changed his future is being treated like garbage while the man who abandoned him is the beacon of fatherly wisdom and advice. Ornette told Vince that he wouldn't let him fall. One wonders about Ornette's motivations--his selfish interests vs the best interest of his son. Colleges aren't shy to offer large sums of cash to the family of someone they want. It's shady and illegal but it's part of the process. The reason Coach wanted to run the process through him is to avoid that side of recruitment. Ornette pushed Coach out. Meanwhile, Vince runs up the score for the sake of recruitment even if it disobeys the Coach's orders. The 38-7 demolition over the Panthers officially marked the end of any control Coach had over his QB and team.

Meanwhile, Jason Street returned to Dillon for the game between the schools. Street's a more successful agent as well as a married man. Life's treated the boy well since his paralysis happened in the Pilot but he worked to change his circumstances. In an episode that showed so much divide and disconnect, Street's presence is a reminder of how an individual can overcome anything thrown his or her way. Street's presence signifies that resilience. Street's more than a symbol in the episode, of course. He offers Coach representation and, later, suggests Coach Taylor for a head-coaching job at a college in Florida. He also expresses disappointment in what the Lions are versus what the Panthers used to be under Coach Taylor. Street only received a few scenes but they were monumental in terms of the endgame and the current narrative of the season.

I have some complaints about the record. I liked the stuff with Coach, the Howards and the recruitment process as well as the return of Jason Street; however, I wonder how the Panthers fell apart so fast in less than a year. The McCoys disappeared along with that hot-shot head coach. Mac McGill's the head coach. How? What? And when? Are the writers suggesting Landry, with that damn field goal of his, sent the West Dillon Panthers into a spiral of mediocrity? I understand the juxtaposition of the show--the once mighty Panthers are what the Lions were last season. It's karmic and the audience will cheer that. I also have problems with the portrayal of the Lions as the high school version of the Oakland Raiders in their once mightier years--a group of thugs who succeed by being thugs. Teams with discipline issues rarely succeed on the field like the Lions. In "Kingdom," they racked up 24 penalties for nearly 300 yards. Such undiscipline would be hard to overcome. The Lions are one big group of Richie Incognitos and Alex Barrons. Actually, it seems like the writers watched the 30 for 30 documentary on the Miami Hurricanes and thought it'd be neat to make the Lions the high school version of the team. The problem is, the Lions don't have the talent to romp and demolish the way they do. The writers showed the team has one skilled position player for each position group. Not enough. But it's a TV show and a mediocre team isn't interesting so we've got the fictional equivalent of the Miami Hurricanes.

Other thoughts:

-Etan Frankel & Derek Santos Olson wrote the episode. Adam Davidson directed it.

-As always, the show's so good with small moments. During the team BBQ, there was a quick shot of Street and Julie talking. Later, in the back round, Street and Mrs. Coach were conversing.


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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.