Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: The Greatest Primetime Soap of Them All

For those who know me, I can be very forward thinking and flexible when it comes to certain aspects of my life.  But for many of my favorite things I picked them as a kid and I've stuck with them through thick and thin. Being an Atlanta Falcons fan is good in 2011, but it's been mostly a lifetime of misery. Loving '80s pop music, especially my favorite musical year 1984, on the other hand always brings joy and never goes out of style. I still eat the same cereals that I ate as a kid, and have many of the same routines. Red has been my favorite color for 30 years. 10 has my favorite number just as long. ANOTHER WORLD was my all-time favorite daytime soap opera and I can't see that ever changing. That's why falling in love with show like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS threw me for a major loop.

Of course I loved DALLAS and DYNASTY as any good soap-loving kid did in the 1980s, but my favorite was KNOTS LANDING.  It has so much more heart and the relationships between Gary and Val, Sid and Karen, Karen and Mack, Val and Karen, and on and on, were so realistic and wonderful.  I thought this was yet another case of where my opinion would never change. Nothing could top that.  Well, I have to say I would give that title to FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS now. The emotional weight that show carries and the unrivaled portrayal of the imperfect (but sort of perfect) marriage of Eric and Tami Taylor is true entertainment.

Yes, I'm a diehard football fan, but you don't have to be to enjoy this show.  That perception probably led to the show's inability to ever find a mass audience.  But for those of you who never watched this soap, and yes it was indeed a soap, you missed one hell of a ride.   I can't thank DirecTV enough for allowing this show to live on for three additional seasons.   I probably cried during every single episode of this show's entire five year run.  I may be a sap but that has to be a record!  And the relationships, friendships, romances, were all there, just like on KNOTS, but in an even deeper and more realistic way.  That's not to say I wouldn't love a KNOTS reboot like DALLAS is getting on TNT. But FNL embodied the spirit of a small Texas town obsessed with football and dealing with life's struggles better than any show ever could have.  The writing, directing and acting were always top-notch, even as the budget was reduced.  Daytime soaps could learn from this.  You can still tell great stories with a smaller budget.

I could go on an on about how much I love FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and I usually do, but instead I'm going to name my Top 5 Episodes of All-Time during the series instead.

1. Season 1 "Mud Bowl" - Funny, inspirational and scary all at the same time.
2. Season 1 "Full Hearts" - Saracen singing "Mr. Sandman"to grandma.
3. Season 4 "The One" - The performance of Zach Gildford's career after Matt's father died.
4. Season 1 "Pilot" - Set up the show beautifully, plus Jason Street was paralyzed.
5. Season 3 Finale "Tomorrow Blues" - Matt Saracen taking his grandma out of that home and dancing with her had me balling.  The ending would have been a perfect series finale had the show not been picked up.

This list will probably change daily.  They're all good!  And it's hard to single out certain Eric-Tami moments because they honestly were brilliant and effortless in every single episode.  I have never seen a more realistic couple on television in history.

If you get a chance tonight, check out the final episode of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS on NBC.  Some of you may have seen it on DirecTV already, but it's worth watching again.

In a recent WE LOVE SOAPS TV poll, our readers voted KNOTS LANDING as their favorite primetime soap of all-time, with DALLAS a very close second.

- FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS reruns picked up by ESPN and Texas' Longhorn network
- OPINION: Primetime Emmys Get Some Right, Snub Others + Vote For Your Faves

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