Friday Night Lights is back! Anyone survive the summer without it?
Not bloody likely!
I, for one, barely made it out alive. It took at least a month after the season finale to wipe that PANTHERS WIN STATE grin off my face. And season 1 DVDs not coming out until the end of August? Torture. I filled the void by receiving two Dillon t-shirts for my birthday. I win!
Anyway, to start this year off right I watched the finale again before the season premiere to get my heart all properly warmed. I didn’t go through a box of Kleenex this time, but it was still as amazing as I remembered. And afterwards, I watched Grizzly Man. For those of you who haven’t seen, it’s a documentary about a rather effeminate loony bird who decides to go live with wild grizzly bears in Alaska and worship their poop. In the end he gets mauled to death. I highly recommend. Fun for the whole family.
Speaking of wholesome family entertainment, we begin this season on the set of High School Musical 2! What time is it?? SUM-MER-TIME!! Jazz hands abound. The kids are crowded around the neighborhood swimming pool, with Julie Taylor playing the part of cute as a button lifeguard Gabriella and Matt Saracen as the rugged, totally manly Troy. I guess as the best friend Landry would be Chad, but that’s a mighty big afro to fill!
Disclaimer: I am not a preteen girl.
Also of note, Tim Riggins is wearing one of Jeff Probst’s Survivor Challenge Straw Hats. This is important for reasons we can only begin to surmise.
“Fei Long wins immunity!”
Julie’s young eyes are a-wandering, over to a grungy looking guy who may or may not be one of the dudes from Jackass. Matt, watching her like a gaddam hawk, is none too pleased. Landry, ever the voice of reason, and wearing the sexy Crucifictorious t-shirt that I must one day own, entreats Matt to ask himself WWRD? That is, what would Riggins do? Matt dismisses this as unsound advice, seeing as how Riggins is “Captain of the S.S. Ta-tas over there.”
Aye-aye Cap’n! Avast!
Smash, also covered in teenage girls, yells something cocky to Matt from the pool. Matt says that he’s turning into a tool, which means that Matt was apparently unconscious throughout the entire first season. Though it doesn’t matter, because this concludes Smash’s two minutes of screen time this week. Thanks for showing up, Smash! Landry continues to spout some more half-baked advice, when he is cut off by the arrival of a shorter-haired Tyra walking slo-mo through the pool area in a scene quite reminiscent of the Wendy Pfeffercorn scene in The Sandlot. Lotiony, oily, LOTIONY, OILY! Sadly, Landry does not throw himself into the pool and feign drowning, but instead continues to ogle her as she sucks on a rather phallic popsicle. And this is supposed to be a family friendly show?
Landry has the biggest pair of blue balls on network television.
Also making a very sexy pool entrance is an incredibly pregnant Tami. I didn’t think it was possible for this woman to get any cuter, but, well, here we are. Julie is of course mortified, and very nearly rents a crane in order to remove her mother from the pool, but it’s too late because she’s already in and oops! Her water broke! Julie becomes even more mortified, because on the list of the worst things to happen to a teenage girl, having your mother’s water break in the community pool is second only to getting a zit on prom night.
Cut to the delivery room! Tami is moaning for Coach, who’s on a plane and is wearing a shirt from the evil TMU. Seconds later, he’s running through the halls of the hospital, and I like to think that he didn’t even wait until the plane taxied to the gate, he just inflated that giant slide out the emergency exit and ran off. He finds the room, there is a happy happy reunion, adorableness flies all over the place, and Tami finally delivers the baby in one of those stereotypical birth scenes that make me never want to have children. Julie still looks completely embarrassed by the whole thing, but naturally Coach turns it right around into a classy affair. “Welcome to the family,” he coos to the new Taylor Family Lizard.
“And we shall name her Touchdown.”
New credit sequence! The theme song is the same, thank GOD. Don’t mess with perfection. The new reel is mostly scenes from the first season – highlights include Jason’s quad rugby days, Mudbowl 2007, some cows, Riggins getting left out in the rain, Coach and Julie dancing together at the father-daughter dance, and, of course, PANTHERS WINNING STATE. And I’d also like to thank the producers for keeping my favorite part of last year’s credits: the juxtaposition of Tim Riggins with Aimee Teegarden’s name. It’s just precious.
Fancy another spot of tea, Miss Teegarden?
In the traditional Drive Around Town While Listening To Sports Radio, Slammin’ Sammy Mead is back, as is Applebee’s! It’s the whole gang! It’s Hell Week, as the boys are gearing up for the beginning of the season. Our new coach’s name is Bill McGregor, “the Tennessee Tyrant”, though no amount of bitchin’ nicknames will ever make me like him even a little. Slammin’ Sammy informs us that Matt, Smash, and Tim are all back for another season. Landry is also trying out for the team, and I think I catch about a millisecond of Jason Street in there too.
Now let’s hold on for one damn minute. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I could have sworn that Tim was a senior last year. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the kid failed the twelfth grade, but I just think this is a glaringly obvious plot hole. I was under the impression that Tim, Jason, Lyla, and Tyra were all in the same grade, and Jason was definitely a senior. He was getting scouted by Notre Dame, and then he was talking about not graduating and getting his GED instead, so yeah. That puts you squarely in senior year. Though I could be wrong about the scouting thing, I was too busy singing about how the sun’ll come out tomorrow to pay attention to sports.
Whatever. If it’ll keep the series going, we can invent grades. It is my sincere hope that someday little Timmy Riggins will finally graduate, with honors, from the fifteenth grade.
Coach and Tami bring home little baby Grace, though unfortunately their home has been replaced by a federal disaster area. Julie forgot to clean up the place, probably because that would be hard to do when you’re stewing in embarrassment for seven hours a day, so little baby Grace comes home to a pigsty. Julie says that Grace’s head is pointy, then escapes to go to work. Lovely! Tami updates Coach on the situation: Julie is flirting with The Swede, whom we already know as that grungy lifeguard. Coach can’t really comprehend the idea of Julie dating one guy but crushing on another, so he runs off to ice his poor befuddled head.
Landry and Tyra are hanging out together at the pool. Seriously? Whatever. He talks about the tryouts, which I call bullshit on, by the way. It’s so not in character for him to be trying out. She asks him to lotion up her back and he practically blows his wad right there in front of everyone. Julie, meanwhile, is being told by The Swede that she should come see his totally gnarly band on Thursday night. Julie, apparently attracted to guys who house entire species of insect in their scalp, eagerly agrees to come.
Lyla’s getting baptized! And it’s just like it is in that scene from The Simpsons, when Ned Flanders tries to baptize the Simpson kids down by the river. I’m totally hoping for an airhorn that plays the Hallelujah chorus, but alas, it’s not meant to be. Anyway, it turns out Lyla has not just become a Christian soldier. She’s a Jesus Warrior. While passing out Jesus flyers in the parking lot, she runs into an already inebriated Tim Riggins, whose Douchebag Meter is cranked up to a solid 11. He rambles on about threeways and whatnot, finishing up with a very classy “You’re still the best I’ve ever had!” Lyla tells him to fuck off, except in more delicate terms: “Enjoy your depraved hedonism!” Oh, we will.
This is what Tim Riggins thinks of your “God”.
Matt and Grandma Lorraine are taking a few laps around the supermarket, where they run into Coach. Lorraine goes after him like he’s made out of ham, hugging and kissing and maybe a little humping thrown in there. She runs off to buy some Werther’s Originals or something and Coach grills Matt over why he hasn’t come over to see the baby and if he and Julie are doing okay and Matt, of course, just stammers his way through and generally looks like he’s about to shit his pants. Coach finishes with a somewhat threatening, “Don’t just stand by and watch it happen.” Aw. You know your relationship is going down the craphole when Coach has to step in and save the day.
Oh, Coach. How I’ve missed your just-woke-up-from-hibernation look.
Tyra and Landry say goodbye at the pool. On the way through the parking lot, Tyra almost gets run over by her would-be rapist. Ugh. Get used to this plotline, because it’s not going away any time soon. Landry, who always seems to be just on the periphery of any threats to Tyra’s life, comes running over to help her fret.
Coach reigns in his daughter for a little fatherly chat. He first asks the very vague question of how things are going, then dives right in and drills her about The Swede. Coach: not a fan of Ikea. Julie, being a teenager and therefore not a fan of a direct line of questioning from parental units, flips out, accuses him of being hypocritical, and storms out. Ahh, the Julie Storm Out. Some things never change.
Over at football practice, new Coach Asshat kicks Buddy Garrity out, since he runs closed practices. I’ve hoped for this day for so long, but I have to say – now that it’s here, it’s just sad. As annoying as he is, Buddy doesn’t have much except for those Panthers. Buddy is a lot like me, in a way. He probably cries himself to sleep, too.
Asshat gets all up in Tim Riggins’ face, screaming that he’s disgusting and miserable and has no heart. Tim of course gets pissed, sasses back, and leaves the field, pretending to quit. Meanwhile, Jason, putting in a rare appearance, makes a little half-assed attempt to keep him in line. This better not be a sign of things to come. I demand my Street screen time. I demand it!
Tyra, driving home, almost gets run off the road by the Mysterious Rapist. Yawn. She pulls into a police station, but apparently this is just a mere coincidence, as she does not even attempt to solicit their help in any way.
“Hey y’all, no assistance needed! Just droppin’ off some donuts!”
Over at the convenience store, Matt checks out a copy of Texas Football Magazine, and for anyone out there taking notes, I’d like a subscription of this for Christmas. Smash is on the cover, which I guess brings his screen time count up to twenty seconds now. Julie comes in and she and Matt have an extremely awkward conversation in which Matt tries to invite her to a party. She tries to make excuses, but ultimately promises she’ll come. And we all know Julie: her word is her bond.
Dinnertime at the Garrity household is missing one key element: Buddy Garrity. In his place is some new guy. The kids clearly hate him, and no wonder: he’s serving them tofu! I wouldn’t even have let him through the door. Lyla says grace, which I will reprint here in its entirety due to its awesomeness: “Thank you Lord, for this food that we are about to receive, and for your wisdom. I pray that you will guide me and everyone at this table to help respect you and make good choices. For example, to not take advantage of the vulnerability of a recently separated but not-yet-divorced woman, and in turn to give others at the table the strength to remember that a mother of three should not be wearing skinny jeans. Amen. Bon appetit!” Okay, I know I’ve done my fair share of hating on Lyla in the past, but that was fantastic. A little personality, finally! Where have you been all this time, girl?
Coach breaks the news to Tami that his boss called and he has to return to TMU on Friday instead of getting the full two weeks off. He give her the whole I don’t have a choice, we’re strong, we’ll get through this speech, but throughout the whole thing you can tell she’s just itching to burst into tears. He asks her to talk to him, but she’s clearly crushed and speechless, so he leaves. And then Tami does that incredibly realistic twitchy crying thing that damn well should have earned her an Emmy, or at the very least a nomination. Fuckers. Don’t even get me started. I should have boycotted that damned Seacrest hippie stage-less catastrophe.
Buddy, now apparently living in his office, is laying around watching the Dog Whisperer, which is a) hilarious and b) strangely appropriate. Coach drops by, so Buddy complains to him about Coach Asshat kicking him out of practice, and laughs at the fact that he said he’s an annoying nuisance. Coach laughs too, but not for the same reason. Pam arrives to ruin the fun by pulling Buddy out into the hall to yell at him for showing up at soccer practice. As it turns out, he’s not too happy to see her bumping uglies with a “little tree-hugger who makes seven dollars an hour at a health food store.” She gets angry, demands that he stop stalking her, and storms out. But apparently the Garritys are full of zingers tonight, as he follows up with: “Do whatever you want, but he is not going to turn my children into Communists!” Oh, Buddy. How do you not have your own reality show by now? He follows her out to the parking lot, where he gets even angrier because the tree-hugger is waiting in the car. Buddy flips out and attacks the truck like a feral animal, while they drive away and the guy flashes him the peace sign. Ouch.
Coach Asshat is making Tim run up and down the bleachers. Mac tries to get him to ease off, but Asshat lives up to his name and pushes him harder. Jason looks on, sullen as always. Probably because he’s only getting a solid five minutes of screen time this episode. Eventually Tim throws up and Asshat lets him go. Jason puts on his aviator sunglasses and decides to take a stand. Well, figuratively.
Asshat’s office. Jason, of course, starts out by saying that he totally respects him and it’s his team and all that Boy Scout nonsense that he just can’t seem to get out of his system. But he knows Tim really well and pushing him like that is just going to backfire. And then Asshat nicely displays why he’s Satan incarnate. “Well, you’ve got a decision to make, Jason. You can come to games Friday nights and be some kind of town symbol, some kind of town mascot, or you can come to games Friday nights and be a football coach. But you can’t be both. They can’t be you friends.” Okay, fair point, but that town symbol crap? It’s times like these I wish I could reach through my television screen and choke a bitch. Jason naturally looks quite pissed. Dude, I’ve seen what you can do. Punch him in the face! Rip his balls off!
Over at the Taylors, Coach is assembling a crib, which: awwwww. Julie tells him she’s going out, and he demands that she be back by eleven. Oh, and Lois is not to drink anything. Oh, and darling Julie, where are your shoes? “I’m not wearing shoes!” she sings, as if that were the most natural answer in the world. Poor Coach. His daughter is becoming one of those tree-hugging Commies. The Red Plague is infiltrating Dillon!
Cut to sexy teenage Texas pool party! Matt’s sitting all alone. No surprises there. Damn you Julie, and your web of lies!
“I wish Grandma were here.”
Tyra calls Landry over to her house to investigate a disturbance in the backyard. I think I’m starting to see the problem here. When Landry Clarke is your first line of defense against the evils of the world, you’re in a heap of trouble. He grabs a baseball bat and informs her that he’ll be staking out the perimeter. Nice move, Jack Bauer. If your perimeters are as good as CTU’s, Tyra’s house will be taken over by a terrorist cell in no time. It’s just a skunk, of course, and the evening is capped off with a hearty laugh from all participants, including the skunk.
Julie arrives at the Swede’s show, and with her is the return of Ugly Lois! Lois wisely realizes that this place is a dump and tries to convince Julie to leave. Julie tells her she can go, she’ll find her own ride. Lois, in the Terrible Friend Move of the Week, agrees to this and gets the hell out of Dodge. Ugly Lois, you don’t leave the Shoeless Wonder alone in a dive bar with a bunch of scary neanderthals stinking up the place. It’s against the Teenage Girl Code. Julie, oblivious to all of this, locks her eyes on The Swede and swoons over him and his shitty shitty band, which by the way has nothing on Crucifictorious.
Landry puts in a call to Matt, because he needs advice on how to put his arm around Tyra while watching Fried Green Tomatoes. Matt is pissy because Julie never showed up at the party, so he is of little help. Not that it would matter. As soon as Landry touches Tyra, she asks if he’s hungry. Which is totally understandable, because that is the default emotion one feels upon watching Fried Green Tomatoes. That and utter depression.
Julie meets up with The Swede after the show to receive her comeuppance. Turns out he’s 21 and has a girlfriend who wears shoes! Wahp wahp!
“You’ve got a little egg on your face there, Jules.”
Coach comes to pick her up and naturally starts yelling about how seedy this place is and it’s 12:30 at night and how could she do this but all she says is that she wants to go home. He tells her that he has to leave early, and he won’t be back for a few weeks, so he would really like to know right now what’s going on with his daughter. She finally caves and tells him about The Swede, and you can actually see the words being forced out of Coach’s mouth as he tries to ask about her relationship with Matt. Oh, Coach. You couldn’t get any cuter if you were covered in puppies. Julie admits that she’s scared because she can see Matt and her turning into her parents. Hello? You should BE so lucky!
Coach comforts her and tells her that if she decides to leave Matt, no one will love her any less. Except all of America, of course. He tells her that The Swede sounds like just another guy from the Land of Meatballs and Affordable Furniture. They have a lovely moment and she says she misses having him around. He looks Thoughtful. If this man isn’t back coaching the Dillon Panthers within two weeks I will eat my State Championship hat.
Tyra sends Landry into the grocery store to get food, because the Collette account is a little overdue. “I’m gonna go get some Pringles,” Landry says, lapsing into that What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? retarded Arnie voice that he does so well. And so our dear boy, forgetting that whenever he strays farther than fifteen feet away from Tyra she gets attacked, goes into the store, leaving her alone in the creepy, dark, isolated parking lot. No potential for trouble here! Bring the kids! The Would-Be Rapist (who slightly resembles Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame) of course shows up and of course attacks her and of course no one can hear. Eventually Landry emerges and helps her beat him off.
Um, that sounded much better in my head.
Anyway, when the guy says he’ll be back for Tyra, Landry puts an end to it once and for all and hits him repeatedly with a pipe. Oh, Landry. That’s not the Christian thing to do. Tyra checks the body, which is bleeding heavily from the head, so there’s certainly no need to call for a medical professional or even tell anyone in the grocery store that’s five feet away. The kids throw the body in the car to take it on a little joyride, when Dr. Landry Clarke, M.D. declares the guy dead.
It’s Mr. Clarke in the dirty alley with the lead pipe, okay? I win. Now let’s play Connect Four.
They stop on a bridge, where, in a moment of clarity, Landry pull out his cell to call his father, who’s a cop. A COP. Tyra, for some unknown reason, STOPS HIM, and decides instead that the body belongs in the river below. Yes, no need to bring law enforcement into a case where there has been documented abuse and a plea of self defense would not be totally outside of the realm of possibility. That would just be silly.
Let’s move on to a more adorable plotline. What’s more adorable than a bloated river corpse, you ask? Why, it’s Coach Taylor playing with his newborn daughter! He and Tami fawn and coo all over the place, while Julie just looks generally unhappy in the kitchen. Coach looks Thoughtful again. I don’t want to eat a hat, Coach! You better get your ass back to Dillon!
“Landry killed a guy? What are these writers THINKING?”
A little while later, at Dillon Panthers Stadium, Coach leads a ceremony in which the team receives their 2006 Championship Rings (Panthers win state!). And of course, it’s lovely. Each team member gets their ring from a variety of people, which seems to include a lot of random coaches. Tim gets his from brother Billy, and Matt gets his from – hey! It’s the Official Dillon Panthers Decrepit Old Coot from last season! Welcome back, old timer!
“Have they cured leprosy yet, m’boy? Can’t seem to find my ear.”
And Jason gets his ring on a necklace chain, which for some reason marks the return of the lump to my throat that I had gotten so used to last year. The psyched look on his face almost makes up for his total lack of a plotline. He’s probably thinking about this exact time last year, when the entire episode was all about him, lying there on the ground, unable to move. Ah, happier days.
“I’m still relevant!”
Seconds later, Coach is back up in the air on a plane back to TMU. That man can plane and deplane faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. He gazes down upon the stadium, and looks – you guessed it – Thoughtful. I rest my case.
“Man, that ground-to-airplane slingshot we installed just paid for itself!”
Okay. So here’s what I think. Not a solid season premiere. I hate hate hate the Landry-Tyra plotline. I read somewhere over the summer that murder was going to possibly pop up and I prayed that it wasn’t true. But dang it all, it is. And I just think the writers are better than that, there’s no need to resort to a shocking, out-of-character ratings ploy. That’s not why we watch and love this show. Stick to what you’re good at – tearing my soul apart with good old-fashioned guilt, misery, and paralysis.
I hope that in the coming weeks they tone down Julie’s increasingly irritating teenageriness. It’s getting a little out of hand. Same goes for Tim’s douchiness. That was a little unnecessary. I think it goes without saying that I would like to see more of Jason (naked), and yes, Smash as well. I would like to see his character developed a little more so that he’s not all steroids and racism and cockiness. What’s INSIDE the Smash?
Then again, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. The entire gang could run away and join the circus, and I’d still be happy just because they got a second season. I’m beyond thrilled to see this show still on television, and I’d be lying if I said I was not waiting all damn summer for this. So here’s hoping for an awesome season.
What did y’all think? (See what I did there? Y’all! Texas forever!)