15 February, 2007
First it was a book, then a film and now it arrives as a quality TV drama series. Friday Night Lights is set in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas and in the pressurised world of high school American "football". The new coach is expected to deliver the state championship and the players are already being scouted by big colleges and mentally spending the multi-million dollars they might earn in the future.
ITV4 are showing this in conjunction with their coverage of the sport and of course gridiron fans will be its natural audience. However, this is a brilliant show which everyone should be able to get into, despite the despicable disport depicted.
Think of the sport in Friday Night Lights as the medicine in House. I haven't a clue what the doctors are babbling on about with the obscure science and medicine gobblegook but it is still compelling because it isn't about the science, it's about trying to save a life. The stakes in Friday Night Lights aren't as high, but as famous footie boss Bill Shankley joked, football isn't about life and death - it's much more important that that.
It's having rating problems in the US but it was still given a full season order because the network has faith that the quality will win through in the end. The problem remains with women who don't see it as being for them and that is a crucial section of the audience they need. For the UK, substitute 'women' for 'everyone'. That's going to have to be fixed in marketing because the show's fine as it is and it just needs people to give it a go.
It's not about a bunch of thick-neck, red-neck, brass-neck jocks doing it for the team and the American way. Well, it is a little bit to be honest but it's mostly about relationships and trying to be normal teenagers when there is also the pressure to succeed from your team-mates, your coach, the school board and the whole god-damn town.
Friday Night Lights
ITV4, begins Wednesday 21 February, 8:00pm