Archive for Friday, April 15, 2011

No more overtimes for NBC’s ’Friday Night Lights’

April 15, 2011

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Attention America: This is your very last chance to not watch “Friday Night Lights” (7 p.m., NBC). To trot out the tired phrase, “Friday Night Lights” is the best show you’ve probably never watched.

And that’s no reason you might not watch it some day. For the first five decades of the TV era, really good shows used to appear on the scene, receive heaps of praise from critics and then vanish into the ether.

Critics can just do so much. To trot out another adage: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Now great shows, critically praised shows and even very bad shows, can be saved and savored on purchased DVDs or rented in piecemeal from Netflix and other renting and streaming services.

In short, television has come to resemble my old haunt, book publishing. It’s not like you have to buy the book in hardcover right after the reviews come out. You can buy the paperback months later. Or wait a few years to take it out of the library.

For all of it’s great pseudo-documentary style, earnest performances and realistic portrayal of America and Texas’s class divide as seen from the corridors of two football-besotted high schools, I can sometimes understand why “Friday Night Lights” is more admired than loved.

For starters, it breaks many rules of contemporary television. It’s not audience-specific. It’s about teens. And their parents. And their teachers and coaches. It has white lead characters and black stars. Unlike every “Real World” or unreal series, it unfolds in an unglamorous setting. Like too many places in America and almost nowhere on television save “The Simpsons”’ Springfield, Dillon, Texas, is a small town that most people want to leave. “Lights” takes its time developing characters. And nothing is “solved” at the end of 50 minutes.

But if you are among the happy few who can’t wait for a new season of “Friday Night Lights,” tonight is a time to rejoice. And to mourn just a little, because at the end of this year’s football season, the “Lights” will go out.

• Collectors take their vintage items to a Las Vegas expert to make them better than new on the new series “American Restoration” (9 p.m., History).

Tonight’s other highlights

• The team poses as a law firm to infiltrate the lair of Russian arms dealers on “CHAOS” (7 p.m., CBS).

• Floundering in Sherman Oaks on “Kitchen Nightmares” (7 p.m., Fox).

• A teen band forms in the 2011 young adult fantasy “Lemonade Mouth” (7 p.m., Disney).

• A posh penthouse becomes the setting for a jewel heist on “CSI:NY” (8 p.m., CBS)

• Olivia’s change of mind on “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox).

• The new series “Killer Outbreaks” (8 p.m., Animal Planet) recalls the West Nile Virus scare.

• An escort’s end baffles some on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS).

• The first blizzard strikes on “American Loggers” (9 p.m., Discovery).

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