Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Friday Night Lights: "Keeping Up Appearances"

Illustration for article titled Friday Night Lights: "Keeping Up Appearances"
Illustration for article titled Friday Night Lights: "Keeping Up Appearances"

Dads and football: That's what this week's largely about. On one end there's J.D.'s dad, well established as a fanatic. On the other there's the new-to-the-show (unless I'm forgetting a previous appearance from Sinqua Walls) Jamarkus' dad, who can't make his feelings any clearer than when he says, "Football doesn't mean anything to our family." And somewhere in the middle (well, obviously more toward the fanatic end) there's Buddy, who learns his namesake and his other daughter have abandoned football for soccer and abandoned meat for veganism during their stay in California with their Mom and Kevin.

Uncharacteristically for FNL, two of these stories get snap resolutions. Jamarkus' family watches a game and sees the light, which seems a little easy. (But at least we got the great scene of Coach and Tami tag-teaming Jamarkus' mom and dad.) Buddy's kids go from a series of scenes that illustrate just how hurtful petulant teens can be to grown-ups (even if they're overgrown kids like Buddy) to the familial harmony of the kind of only ice cream sundaes can bring about. Did we miss a scene somewhere? The Garritys' conflicts had the uncomfortable feel of real-life–"Could you please stop texting," "pubic hair," etc.–but the final exchanges felt sitcom flat.

Still, if neither of these storylines worked as well they might have, the J.D. story did, particularly the moments of Coach trying to tell his new star quarterback his dad's an asshole without actually saying it. And the football game brought all the strands together in a way that let them work better together than apart.

But the real action was elsewhere this week. Landry learns that a lesbian might kiss you back but she won't be your girlfriend. Poor Landry. What does everyone think of bass player Devin? I like her, but the actress playing her (Stephanie Hunt, who doesn't even have an IMDB page yet) has a slightly spacier approach to FNL's improv work. Meanwhile, the Street/Herc/Riggins boys rehab project is done and, as the episode ended, on its way to being sold, albeit with some bumps along the way. (Best moment: Riggins closing the currents so prospective buyers won't be put off by the sight of two men in wheelchairs fighting.) Then there's Street meeting a Big Time New York Sports Agent who just happens to be passing through Dillon and deciding that this might be the career for him. Contrived? Yes, but the preview for next week's episode, "New York, New York," suggests that complications will follow. And Street's I-got-to-get-out-of-here revelation does lead to a nice scene with Lyla. (They've been apart for so long it's easy to forget that they began the series together.)

So, all in all, another episode that, like last week's, feels relatively minor but filled with some typically fine moments. But unlike last week's this one relied on self-contained sub-plots that felt a little too neat. (Yay! Jamarkus, Landry, and Buddy are all fine now, thanks.) We're now in the back half of this shortened season, however, so I expect the momentum to pick up quickly. Call this halftime.

Grade: B

Stray Observations:

- No Saracen this week. And just a glimpse of Julie. Too bad. I hope we haven't seen his last scene with Street, since I always liked the relationship between those two.

- "She Don't Use Jelly" gets performed twice. 90210 only got it once.

- Forgot to mention Riggins' highlight reel, which was quite sweetly handled.

- A note: I'm going to be out of town next week so I'm planning to post this a few days late. Since I think there's about five of us watching this on DirecTV, I don't know that too many will mind.