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Friday Night Lights: Season 5 Series Finale on DirecTV

Posted by on February 9, 2011 at 6:56 PM EST

friday night lightsFriday Night Lights will air its series finale tonight on Direct TV.

Tonight is the end of an era for one of the best shows on TV that few people have heard of and fewer people were watching. I am talking about the amazing show Friday Night Lights which is ending its fifth and final season tonight on DirecTV.

For those unfamiliar with Friday Night Lights it is based on the book and movie of the same name. The show follows a coach, Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), as he takes the job as the head coach of the Panthers, the high school football team in the small fictional town of Dillon, Texas. The Panthers are the only thing going on in this town and the town shuts down on Friday nights to watch the games. Taylor is under pressure to win and win it all – meaning a state title. In the first game of the season his all-star quarterback Jason Street (Scott Porter) (who is being recruited by Notre Dame among others) goes down with broken neck. Second string QB Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) who has never played in a meaningful game has to step in and lead the team that everyone expects to win state. The team, and the town, rallies around their fallen QB to make an improbable run to the state title game.

The show is less about football and more about the lives of these people in their little town.  In Texas football is everything and Taylor has pressure on him to win unlike most high school coaches. He also has a field and facilities many colleges would envy. Over the last five seasons we have watched these people’s lives evolve as they live in this town, dream of getting out of it and in some cases actually do. Simply put, it is one of the best dramas on TV. The problem has been that for the first few seasons it aired in the deadly time slot of 10pm on Friday nights so the ratings have never been very good.

At the end of season 3 they canceled Friday Night Lights, but the outpouring of love from those hardcore fans (me included) told them that there was an audience for this show if they could just find a way to get it on the air. Since it is shot on location outside of Austin, Texas and it involves some big scenes and stunts with the games, it isn’t a cheap show to produce. NBC struck a deal with DirecTV in which DirecTV would pick up a large chunk of the production cost, but it would get to air the entire season exclusively on Direct TV before then letting NBC air it on their network. It worked to a degree in that it kept the show going, but at the end of season 4 they decided to bring the show to an end. Season 5 would be its last. This season has been about wrapping it up and finishing the story as much as a story like this can be finished. We have seen the return of favorite characters checking in so we can see what happened with them and we have seen some story arcs put to rest. It has been a lot like going to a school reunion where you catch up with all your old friends whom you haven’t seen in a long time.

Tonight’s episode is the season and series finale of Friday Night Lights and it is sure to be bittersweet. There are questions and plots still unanswered and unfinished. I would assume we will get those resolved tonight. Tonight’s episode (which only airs on DirecTV, the entire 5th season will begin airing on NBC in a few weeks so you still have time to check it out) will run without commercials and judging by a few of the preview clips and pictures I have seen it puts it all to rest in a quality, classy fashion.

While the show itself was mostly overlooked its stars like Minka Kelly, Taylor Kitchsh, Zach Gilford, Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler and Adrianne Palicki have gone on to star in movies and other shows. The quality work they put into Friday Night Lights was not lost on casting directors.

I will be sad to see the show go, but I am happy that they had a chance to end it in the way it deserved to be ended and not just shut off and shut down. One last time tonight we join Coach Taylor, the team and the town. As he says, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” We are losing a great show, but for five seasons TV was better with it having at least been there.

For those interested in the show Seasons 1-4 can be watched in online streams via Netflix. I would assume Season 5 will be available to stream as well shortly after it finishes airing on NBC.



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