Jesse Plemons

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A New Job, a New Coach and a New Baby

The Taylors adjust to their new situation. Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden, Kyle Chandler by Bill Records/NBC

Episode Recap: "Last Days of Summer""Welcome back to another glorious year of Panther football." I'm not ready to classify the football as glorious just yet, what with this new Coach McGregor (the anti-Eric Taylor) and all, but the show itself is certainly back and in sublime form.Let us first welcome into the world Miss Grace Taylor, second daughter of Eric and Tami, sister to suddenly moody teen, Julie. Now Eric has another daughter to defend against football players and Swedes; too bad he's a plane ride away in Austin. His new coaching job at TMU is having a deleterious effect on his family and (I'm not even being dramatic when I say this) the entire football-loving community in Dillon, but more about that in a bit. Julie won't talk to him because she considers him to have been an absentee father for the last 8 months, and Tami — Connie Britton, proving yet again how wrong the Emmy voters got it with her incredible performance tonight — is absolutely destroyed that he c... read more

It's Friday. Keep the Lights On.

Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights by Bill Records/NBC Photo

What more can its devoted critics say about NBC’s Friday Night Lights except to celebrate the fact that it’s back for a second season, which means it has already beaten the odds, at least for now. Not that the odds aren’t still incredibly steep for this eternal underdog in its new Friday time period: 9 pm/ET, when many of those who might savor this wonderful drama’s small-town football backdrop are out enjoying their own high school football matches this time of year. No matter how you watch it — in real time, in your own time via recording or online viewing — you really don’t want to miss it.Friday Night Lights is powerfully entertaining drama, and returning to Dillon, Texas, is like going home again. The characters are instantly familiar as they recapture your heart, especially the Taylors. That would be Coach Eric and wife Tami, unhappily maintaining a long-distance relationship as he adjusts to a new college job while Tami copes with a new baby... read more

April 11, 2007: Those Are the People I Want in Your Hearts

“You feel different?” “I do. I do.” I do, too. Has there been a more sheerly exuberant episode of television this season than this? In a way, it was the perfect capsule of this show: Even if someone had never watched this show before, they could fall instantly into its rhythms and story lines just in this one hour. In fact, in looking at the whole season, both the pilot and the finale could be viewed as perfect one-offs. When I said last week that I thought the writers would be bringing their best game, I wasn't expecting for it to be the blow out that it was.Is it possible for a show to be both more than the sum of its parts and have those parts be almost more important at the same time? As wonderful as the episode was as a whole, the individual scenes themselves were so fully developed, they could have counted as one-acts. The pre-game dinner, for instance, with Buddy’s “Eric, I just came by to tell you that I’m gonna miss you, and that you’... read more

April 4, 2007: Why Are You Gonna Jump Off That Cliff?

Can I take a moment here to reiterate that I hate promos for shows I care about? Promos are supposed to give you a teaser to keep you coming back; they are not supposed to give away key plot points. In any case, next week’s episode looks fantastic, and that’s as far as I’ll go.The more I thought about it, the more I considered last week’s episode to be a high point in an exceptionally strong freshman season. Compared to that, of course, this week was going to be a bit of a come down. Part of it has to do with the fact that we’re being set up for the final episode, so while we got many great little moments, something tells me they’re saving the bonafide A-material for next week.So let’s talk about those little moments. The meeting that Coach and Jason had with Saracen was hilarious. Jason had the best line in the scene when he explained, “I’ll take care of Julie. I’ll give her a nice call and tell her there’s a new girl in town a... read more

March 28, 2007: This is Ours, Baby

“Welcome to the most talked about football game in the State of Texas.” It should go without saying that most sports commentators — and most network promo people — are prone to hyperbole, but I don’t think that this particular commentator was exaggerating, nor do I think that last week’s preview of this episode, touting it as, “one of the most inspirational,” was off the mark.It seems that we so rarely get to see the Panthers actually compete, but those games really serve to anchor their respective episodes. In the past they’ve embodied our characters’ feelings of suspense and disappointment, but this week it was all about control.Lyla told Jason what no one else was willing to tell him, which was that despite this terrible thing that happened to him, he doesn’t get a free pass in and that perhaps it was time for him to start getting a handle on his life. And he did. He took control during the settlement talks, finally getti... read more

February 28, 2007: I'm Incredibly Hungover Right Now

In the space of three episodes I’ve gone from hating to loving Tim Riggins. I’m sure I’ll hate him at some point again this season, but for the moment, I’m pretty enamored. When he taught little Bo how to throw a spiral, I thought I was going to crack my face open with my smile. Yes, there’s probably a little more going on there than just trying to be a good neighbor, but it was nice to see him doing something constructive to help someone else out (as opposed to instigating a riot on the football field). Also, how cute was it that Bo always had to call Tim by his full name? It’s the little touches like that that get to me.Of course, as well as things are suddenly going for Riggins, they’re going as badly for Smash and Waverly. She was pretty disturbing this episode, but it was the first time I felt much sympathy for the character at all. I have to wonder what will happen now that we know about her mood disorder. It would seem that Smash has no cho... read more

February 21, 2007: You Ever Watch the Nature Channel?

Let me sum up this episode in one word: Mortified. That’s pretty much how Coach and Tami reacted to Julie and Matt’s decision. It also aptly describes Tim’s feelings toward his father and the entire town’s reaction to Tyra’s mom’s display of jealousy, but more on those two later. While I was pretty sure that Matt and Julie wouldn’t have sex, I am still beyond relieved that they didn’t. It seemed pretty obvious to me that she was doing this because it seemed like the natural next step in the relationship, even though she was 15 and they only just declared themselves a couple. Thank god Matt talked some sense into her. He might have had his own ulterior motives, though, especially after the talk in practice in which he divulged that the first time he drove, “I crashed my grandma’s car and now Landry drives me around.” Speaking of Landry, he needs to leave the advice business for good. As if having your girlfriend’s mom watch... read more

February 14, 2007: This Is Starting to Get Out of Hand Really Fast

I had always heard that high-school football in Texas was a religion, but I didn’t realize it was something worth morally bankrupting oneself over. I cannot believe that those cops were willing to arrest Smash without a warrant for assault when the other guy tackled him in the end zone, unprovoked. Plus, if we want to be technical here, Tim threw the first punch — but they weren’t going to go after a white player. Why did it take a far more insidious form of racism to vindicate Mac MacGill? Of course, that begs the question of whether Mac MacGill is vindicated. He acknowledged that, “stuff like this kind of works its way into you if you’re around it long enough,” and he certainly fixed the situation on the highway. But as Tami rightly pointed out, he’s a government employee, and his was an offense worthy of being fired for. This show makes me think way too hard.Smash is a character I like more and more every week. He is really rising to the occasio... read more

February 7, 2007: I Think You Got Your Story

In the aftermath of Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Isaiah Washington, did we really need yet another perspective on celebrities saying stupid, insensitive and utterly indefensible things? I was fatigued by it all (though I am still disgusted). However, after watching this episode, my appreciation for this gem of a show was yet again renewed. I’m not sure whether this had anything to do with the recent spate of somewhat similar incidents in the entertainment industry — certainly it was written before Greysgate, part II occurred — but the story line was mercifully subtler than anything I would have expected it to be, which I definitely appreciated.I refer to Mac McGill as a celebrity because I am sure that in the town of Dillon, he is. He was caught in a somewhat relaxed and unguarded moment, so one has to ask, is he racist or is he a terrible speaker? I’m leaning heavily toward racist, even though he may not think of himself in that regard. However, dismissing ... read more

January 3, 2007: There’s No Weakness in Forgiveness

I tried to watch the FNL marathon I so shamelessly plugged here, and yet I realized that I couldn’t. Before you judge, give me the chance to explain myself in the context of this episode. Matt’s “I hate him, I hate my dad,” juxtaposed against his confused gratitude in coming across the man taking care of his grandmother was just wrenching. This is not just because I’m not sure whether Matt doesn’t, in fact, hate his father, but more because I still don’t know what this means for him. Is he going to Oklahoma? Does he get to stay? Will his father leave the army? I’ve said this before, but were this any other show, the answer would be patently obvious. In some ways, it is still because I think we can all agree that without Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen, this show would lose a huge part of its soul. On the other hand, there is plenty to go around, and tough shows like this tend not to spare anyone (Lost, The Sopranos, I’m looking at you). For... read more

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