April 06, 2020

‘Friday Night Lights,’ 8 p.m. NBC

Sometimes bad time slots just happen to a good series.

The new family drama “Friday Night Lights” is such a show. It promises to be quality programming, but it’s up against “NCIS,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “House,” so few will ever see it.

Which is a shame, because it deserves the chance it’s unlikely to get.

Based on the H.G. Hissinger book and resulting 2004 film, “Friday Night Lights” is a study of the twin religions of Texas: church and high school football.

Football is all in the small town of Dillon, Texas, which makes life difficult for new coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler, “Early Edition”), whose team is expected to win the state championship.

The show focuses on a handful of Taylor’s players (the highly recruited star quarterback and his young back-up, the brash black tailback and the alcoholic white fullback) and their families.

The coach also has a town full of people, many of whom are former players, ready with helpful advice. To add to the tension, a news crew is following the team around during the season (shades of MTV’s “Two-A-Days”). Maybe that’s why he rents, even though his wife Tami (Connie Britton, reprising her role from the film) longs to own a home.

This family friendly show does an admirable job of capturing a sense of place, as a coach and his squad struggle to fulfill the hopes of a dying town, which has placed all of its civic identity in its high school football team. These players will never face more pressure than they do each Friday night in the fall.

NBC should do viewers a favor and move “Friday Night Lights” to a different time slot. Then maybe more could discover this little gem. (Dale McGarrigle, BDN)

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