Friday, July 02, 2010

Friday Night Lights "The Lights Of Carrol Park"

FNL has never been one to shy away from conflict, but being on a network (we can still call NBC that, right?) is always a challenge with some hot button issues. "The Lights in Carroll Park" tackles several all at once, as if The Wire's David Simon has taken over the series. Has FNL been showjacked?

There are clues everywhere you look that The Wire is present. We already got Wallace (Michael B. Jordan as Vince). Then there's Stan getting caught at the gay bar ala Captain Rawls, and when you think about it Principal Levi Burnwell is one "sheeeeeeeit" from becoming a Clay Davis. Heck, the Lions even played McNulty a few weeks back, and they played like they were drunk on Protestant whiskey. So, imagine my lack of surprise to see D'Angelo Barksdale (Larry Gilliard Jr., here as Eldred) slumming it in the back corners of East Dillon? Unfortunately, there was no real D'Angelo and Wallace reunion, but just having them in the same park set off all kinds of The Wire geek-induced goose bumps.

And it wouldn't be a David Simon-like joint without tackling big issues in a subtle way. First up was race, with Coach Taylor again trying to lend a hand without coming off too much like a white knight. Coach is more like The White Shadow, albeit one who seems even more lost in the side of town he now calls home. Carroll Park was a mystery to Coach, and since it turns out to be a place where even the good ones like Tinker are hanging out, having bullets flying about is bad for business (football business, that is). The simple task of getting the lights turned on in the park becomes a cause that the Energizer Buddy runs with, and thanks to a cooler head like Virgil "Big Merri" Merriweather, it becomes a community rally point. Ex-con Eldred serves as a liason for Coach, but by the end of the mostly friendly game, Eric's already connecting with a few of the non-Lions.

The game between the Lions and 'the street' could've ended up going south, but it all worked out nicely, which seemed to be this week's theme. Take Glenn's apology to Coach for "mouth-raping" Tami. Watching Eric's multi-faceted reaction to the bumbling retelling of that fateful Karaoke party gone wrong, you sense that this could go sour real quick. But no, Eric merely (and maniacally) laughs it off. The thought of Glenn being a threat had to be amusing, even to a deeply competitive man like Coach.

Other potential conflicts that got hugged out included Vince's meeting with Coach and subsequent job working for a man that doesn't like him. Then we had Julie and her Habitat for Humanity venture. Still down from Matt, she dreaded it, but a hunky supervisor made it all go down perhaps too well (cue mouth-rape!). Then there was Tami having to tell Joe McCoy that his son J.D. was in detention for being a McDick. Joe is understanding, thanks to their impending divorce. What? Is Janine Taylor off the show now? It wouldn't surprise me if the Conservative Republican asked to leave FNL after hearing the other major storyline this week: Abortion.

Turns out young Becky is preggers with Luke's baby, as apparently Luke didn't pony up for the 'protective glaze' for their visit to the car wash back when everybody was wearing black ("The Son"). Becky is understandably torn up and is afraid to talk to anyone, but Luke is awfully understanding, and father proxy Tim gives her a big bear of a hug when she tells him. Becky is fiercely determined not to follow in her mother's footsteps, and that points to an abortion, much to the chagrin of Luke, and likely NBC. Abortion is something that network television rarely, if ever, delves in*. Bring it up as an option, sure, but they always have the baby (even FNL -- see Jason Street's baby mama from Season 2). If they do continue to that expected destination, it will be interesting to see if there's any blowback from it*, even with FNL's low ratings.

*I believe the last primetime network television series to have a major character actually go through with an abortion was Maude way back in 1972. Maybe that explains why Madison Burge hasn't been included in the opening credits?

There's a lot more to discuss, to be sure, but I'm "due for a rinse" so we'll leave it to the bullets:
  • "Do you realize by proxy now I have kissed Glenn?" The great Glenn "mouth-rape" of Tami Taylor from "In the Bag" has now paid off in full, thanks to the humor it provided this week.
  • The Jess-Landry-Vince love triangle continues on. Loved the Vince chest tap after Landry challenged him to hit him. His love for the team won out over silly jealousy.
  • Speaking of Landry and Vince, how about that toss that Jesse Plemons pulled out. Too bad Matt's Grandma wasn't there to see him not throw like a girl. He's still funny looking, though.
Playlist: Friday Night Lights - Episode 4.09
1. "Too Young To Burn" - Sonny and The Sunsets [download]: Julie talks with her Habitat For Humanity supervisor
2. "Is There Any Love" - Trevor Dandy: Buddy brings Vernon in on Carrol Park Project
3. "I Begin To Weep" by 24-Carat Black [download]: Jess instructs Vince on cleaning toilets
4. "Easy" - Get Cool ft Scrap: Vince's friends stop by Ray's Bar-B.
5. "Crime Wave" - 50 Cent [download]: Arrivals for Carroll Park game
6. "Booty Doo" - Northern League & Ming+FS: Vince gets sacked
7. "Take Your Shirt Off" - T-Pain [download]: Both teams score on long passes

Previously: "Toilet Bowl" (Episode 4.08)

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