If you haven't been watching NBC's Friday Night Lights because you don't know a halfback from a running back, now is the time to tune in. This amazing new drama which is about so much more than the on-field antics gets a special airing tonight at 10 pm/ET, to be "encored" tomorrow in its normal Tuesday-at-8 time slot. If you don't trust our take, listen to sexy Adrianne Palicki, who plays FNL's bad girl. TVGuide.com spoke with the actress to find out which football player might be next in Tyra's "playbook," and what it was like going from the sun and sand of South Beach to a landlocked Texas town.
TVGuide.com: How have you been describing Friday Night Lights to people who think the show is just about football?
Adrianne Palicki: It is completely not just about football. Yes, football is in there, but as a vehicle that drives all these relationships that are going on around it. I've told people how gritty it is and how it touches on things, and these days people don't really push the envelope. But our show just keeps getting more intense.
TVGuide.com: Having seen the movie, you knew what you were getting into.
Palicki: Right. And I actually am a football fan. I'm from Ohio, and [the fandom] is very similar to Texas in that way.
TVGuide.com: You went to football games and such in high school?
Palicki: Of course! When I got down [to Texas] for the pilot, and it was the first time we were in the stadium, all the cheerleaders and football players have the exact same uniforms that we had in high school. [On the show] they are the Dillon Panthers, and we were the Whitmore Panthers. It was so weird. I thought, "I really am regressing right now."
TVGuide.com: Were you a cheerleader?
Palicki: No. I was a cheerleader for one year in, like, fifth grade. We never won, so I quit. I was a basketball player, and I ran track. I was more of a jock.
TVGuide.com: You never had to do the spirit squad thing they do on the show, where they assign girls to players?
Palicki: No. I was a Pantherette my first year of high school that was the dance group that comes out during halftime but we didn't get assigned players. We were kind of made fun of.
TVGuide.com: Did you at least have cute uniforms?
Palicki: [Laughs] No. Not so much. But there was a lot of spandex.
TVGuide.com: Do you watch football regularly?
Palicki: Yeah. I'm a Detroit Lions fan. I grew up in Toledo, which is about a half-hour outside of Detroit, so that was a huge team for my dad.
TVGuide.com: This must be a good show for your family to watch, then.
Palicki: Everybody loves it. It is for every generation.
TVGuide.com: It's quite a big switch for you to be going from North Shore and South Beach to a show set in the middle of Texas. Not exactly an exotic location.
Palicki: At first I was really nervous, but Austin is so liberal and laid-back and artistic, and the people are so kind, that while it isn't exotic like Hawaii or Miami, it definitely has its own thing going for it. It is a music kind of town and there are bands everywhere, very eclectic. I love it.
TVGuide.com: We got to see a little bit more of Tyra, who seems like "the hot girl," when she dissolved her relationship with Riggs. Will we get to see more of that?
Palicki: Absolutely. The way I describe Tyra is as "the bad girl with the heart of gold." Yeah, she comes across as being really tough, but she's from the wrong side of the tracks and she's had a tough life. But you're going to see more of a vulnerable side. She doesn't let other people see it, but the audience will get to see it in those quiet moments.
TVGuide.com: So far, Tyra's been with two of the guys on the team, but then last week there was a little moment with Jason that made me think he might be next....
Palicki: The great thing about Tyra is you are going to see her edge away from just sleeping with every football player. The thing you're going to see with Jason is that she develops a really good friendship with him. It is a platonic relationship, for now.
TVGuide.com: "For now"?
Palicki: I don't know more. I really don't!
TVGuide.com: What is it like filming with all these guys?
Palicki: Oh, they are really tough to look at, and kissing them on screen is awful. [Laughs] No, everybody is so great and we get along really well. There is a great group of talented folks on the show.
TVGuide.com: Do you think Tyra still has feelings for Riggs?
Palicki: I do. It is a high-school relationship, that first-love thing, and they have a lot in common. They can really give it to each other. I think it is going to take a little bit for Tyra to get over that relationship.
TVGuide.com: Will Smash be helping her?
Palicki: I think that was a one-time thing.
TVGuide.com: I'm looking forward to the moment where Tyra discovers that Riggs and Lyla have been kissing. Is that coming soon?
Palicki: Maybe...? I can't give you too much information.
TVGuide.com: Hypothetically, would that be fun to see?
Palicki: That would be a lot of fun to see if it were hypothetically possibly happening.
TVGuide.com: She's dead, but on that show people come back. Is there any chance you'll return?
Palicki: They did bring back the character for an episode where she was just kind of a vision, but I was on another show at the time and it was really difficult to coordinate the time for me to come back. But who knows? We're working really hard down here and I'd really like to put my foot in movies. I think that might be the next step for me.
TVGuide.com: Friday Night Lights recently got an additional script order for the back nine. Are you excited about that?
Palicki: It is a good sign. And [tonight] we're going to be behind Heroes, so I'm hoping that will boost ratings enough to where they order [a full-season pickup].
TVGuide.com: Are ratings and pickups in your mind while you are working?
Palicki: You know what, before the show aired we were all in our own little bubble thinking this show that we are creating is amazing. You think to yourself, "Of course people are going to respond to it, because it is amazing. They have to." Then when the first ratings came out, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, and [I] start wondering. Not that [FNL being canceled] is in my mind even a possibility, but you want to be able to embrace the fact that you are going to be doing it for a while. They don't shoot shows like this where we don't have marks and we get to improv scenes. There are about four cameras on us at all time. It is like theater, just raw acting.
TVGuide.com: Can you tell me anything about this week's episode?
Palicki: You are going to see a lot more of Tyra. It is a really, really good episode, and that is not me being biased. The show is becoming even more about the relationships, I think, and in a lot of story lines that we kind of touched on last week, you are going to see them go a lot further.
For November-sweeps previews for other NBC shows such as Heroes and ER, pick up the new TV Guide.
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