Zach Gilford

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He's Back, Baby!

MacGregor is out and Taylor is in. Chris Mulkey by Bill Records/NBC

Episode Recap: "Backfire"Who didn't have a little flutter in his (or her) heart when Coach Taylor, back in his Dillon Panther blues, stood up in front of that room like nothing had changed and said, "Let's go. Let's have some fun today"? What a way to end an episode that already just seemed to fly by.Aside from that weird, Mafia-like threat from Coach MacGregor ("I have a family, too, and you just remember that. I'll be seeing you again"), Eric's homecoming was nothing less than joyous. Julie and Tami are well on their way to patching things up, especially now that it looks like the grungy Swede might be out of the picture. Matt Saracen has someone back on his side again, and Buddy should probably be considered the town hero.Ah, Buddy. We may have just been witness to the only game in Panther history that Buddy honestly wanted his beloved team to lose. It was quite a sight to watch him hold back a grin as Smash got blocked again and again, leaving Dillon with a humiliating loss on t... read more

Brawls On and Off the Field

Eric hopes he can get his old job back. Kyle Chandler by Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Episode Recap: "Are You Ready for Friday Night?"Is this show about football or hockey? There was so many smackdowns (verbal and physical) tonight, that I think I'm forming bruises in sympathy. What does it say about a show when the characters who are doing the best at the moment are the ones who recently committed murder?That's right, you Tyra and Landry fans — the deed has been done, is probably going to be done again. And it seems like they're genuinely in love. Dillon's former bad girl — who seems to have passed on her particular brand of anger to Julie, but more on which later — is in a relationship with a guy that respects her and won't take advantage, so it's just too bad that the entire foundation of their love is that they killed someone. Their watch-shopping scene was the sweetest and lightest of the night ("it really doesn't look anything like [the old watch] except that they are both watches and have hands and tell time"). Definitely a welcome respite fro... read more

A Plague of Consequences Strikes Dillon

Matt tries to figure out how to deal with the women in his life. Zach Gilford by Bill Records/NBC

Episode Recap: "Bad Things"Regular readers of this blog know that this show make me cry on a pretty regular basis. Tonight's episode was no exception, though I'm not sure what part was most affecting. You'd think it would be Jason still coming to terms with his paralysis after recovering some muscle function, but that's really just par for the course on this show. As usual, Connie Britton's flawless portrayal of a new mother with a crumbling psyche was wrenching to watch. Was there any scene in which she wasn't desperately trying to swallow her sobs? And the thing is, it all seemed so completely organic — there was no screaming or a melodramatic "Why me?" moment. It's hard not to love a show that allows its characters to fully comprehend the ridiculousness of their choices, and when Glenn (the guidance counselor in need of guidance) asked Tami why exactly she and Eric were living apart, her acknowledgement of, "I don't know, that was just my idea, it was just a stupid idea," wa... read more

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

Preseason

Just think of each of the following as exhibition games:The first-season DVD goes on sale this Tuesday, Aug. 28, and if you order it through Amazon.com, it'll be only $19.99. (Buy one for a friend — or 12, while you're at it.) For all those who've wondered what would happen if Connie Britton and Zach Gilford were together in a horror film, their movie, The Last Winter, comes on out Sept. 19. Finally, show some love for IHOP because Miss Julie Taylor herself (Aimee Teegarden) appears in one of their commercials.Season 2 premieres Friday, Oct. 5, at 9pm/ET. Order some wings, drink a beer, and pray that Buddy Garrity doesn't show up with the word "Panthers" painted across his chest. read more

Do you think the Emmys should ...

Question: Do you think the Emmys should do like the Daytime awards and have a younger/newcomer actor and actress award? I've watched Friday Night Lights since Episode 1, and I tend to forget that Scott Porter is not really handicapped and Zach Gilford probably does not stutter in real life. It just seems a shame that the Hugh Lauries and Michael Chiklises of the world get all of the attention. Answer: As I've said before, younger performers often do get unfairly overlooked at the Emmys. But I'm not a big fan of expanding the number of categories in an already overcrowded system. And there seems to be something condescending about singling out the work of younger actors (or actors who are playing younger) and segregating them in their own category, as if they're operating on a different level than the grown-ups. If only the grown-ups could see that the younger actors are doing award-worthy work. It's a dilemma, but I'm not sure this is the solution ... read more

I have to admit that despite ...

Zach Gilford, Friday Night Lights

Question: I have to admit that despite the critical accolades, I avoided watching Friday Night Lights during the season. I'm not a football fan and when I hear the words "family drama," I tend to think of useless tripe like 7th Heaven, so I really didn't think the show would appeal to me. I finally decided to give it a shot, and all I can say is: wow! I'm happy to admit that I was completely wrong in my assumptions. My question is about the show's Emmy chances. I think that a best-drama nod would give the show the type of exposure that could really help it in the ratings department, but do you think any of the cast members have a shot at being nominated? Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton would seem the most likely, but I'd love to see Zach Gilford or Scott Porter nominated. Their characters are truly the heart of the show, but I worry that because they're younger, their performances will go completely overlooked. Then again, as screwy as the Emmys are, I guess I'll be happy if the ... 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

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