Thursday, October 19, 2006

Friday Night Lights

Though nothing compares to H.G. Bissinger's classic 1988 book about the Permian High School Panthers of Odessa, NBC's Friday Night Lights is engaging television.

I'm not just saying that because they filmed some of it right down the street from where I work. Nor am I just saying that because Minka Kelly, the actress who plays perky, faith-driven cheerleader Lyla Garrity (the one in the middle), makes me feel inappropriate stirrings that God and Johnny Law can't do anything about because she's 26 in real life (ha!).

The pilot episode featured a hilarious cameo from UT coach Mack Brown portraying an obnoxious booster telling the coach of the fictional Dillon Panthers that you "don't need a quarterback" to win in Texas football. I'm sure that part was filmed before the Ohio State game.

I never cared much for high school football when I was actually in high school. I went to a few games in my freshman year, but that was it. Our team was lucky to rack up three wins in a season and there were plenty of other things to do besides watch football, like eating at Pancho's Mexican Buffet.

The fever associated with Friday Night Lights is largely a product of small towns and/or large suburban high schools with a decent enough tax base to build top-notch facilities and hire the best coaches. But it is most definitely a fever in large swaths of Texas, and if you want to have something to talk about with people who reside in those swaths, it doesn't hurt to keep up with who's up and who's down.

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