Studio: Universal Studios
Film Length: 955 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Enhanced Widescreen (1.78:1)
Languages: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden, Scott Porter, Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki, Zach Gilford, Gaius Charles, Taylor Kitsch, Jesse Plemons
NBC made plenty of new additions to its prime time TV roster in 2006. While some of those programs went on to garner huge viewership numbers, one in particular struggled throughout the regular TV season. Friday Night Lights spent much of the last year on many critics “Top 10 Best” lists but yet could never seem to gather a large number of weekly viewers. Articles were written in Entertainment Weekly asking the question “Why is nobody watching this show?” Sadly, it spent a good portion of last year in the “will-it-be-renewed” category. After spending three straight days watching Friday Night Lights: Season 1, the question is: How could it not be?
The first noticeable difference in Friday Night Lights is the way it presents its material to the viewer. There are no grand panoramics and no sweeping camera moves. The entire show is filmed with handheld cameras, giving it a very raw and direct feel. This lets the viewer experience the show as if they were in the room with the characters instead of just watching actors interact from across the living room.
Secondly, while the title may be Friday Night Lights, this is not a show about football. Rather it’s a show about normal people who live in a small, tightly knit football community. The stereotypical “jocks” driving Porsches are nowhere to be found in Dillon, TX. Instead they are replaced by high schoolers usually driving cars older than they themselves are, and parents who manage families that are very much middle class. When the star quarterback is injured in his first game, the replacement player is not a hunky athelete but a shy, quiet boy who has no clue how to deal with his new spotlight. The first season tracks the Dillon Panthers as they try to progress to the state championship game that the entire community expects them to reach. The show, however, is driven not by the football team but by the conflicts, trials, and emotional experiences of the people of this small Texas town.
Here are all of the episodes of the first season, almost all of which have at least one deleted scene.
2.Eyes Wide Open
4.Who’s Your Daddy?
8.Crossing the Line
10.It’s Different for Girls
12.What to do While You’re Waiting
13.Little Girl I Wanna Marry You
14.Upping the Ante
16.Black Eyes and Broken Hearts
17.I Think We Should Have Sex
21.Best Laid Plans
The series, much like most of NBC’s primetime lineup, is broadcast in high-definition format. This DVD release is only a widescreen standard 480p release, but it does a great job of capturing the sights and sounds of living and playing in a small football town. Even though the episodes are filmed by handheld cameras, the quality of the picture is not degraded as we are treated to rainy nights, early morning sunrises, evening sunsets, and (naturally) nighttime game lights. The only negative that viewers might dislike is the very nature of handheld filming. It does bring you closer to the action, but there is a noticeable shake to everything, the action doesn’t always stay in the frame of vision, and there are (intentional) focus errors where the screen will not have a target to look at. These aren’t strikes against the quality of the picture, just a warning to potential buyers.
Friday Night Lights is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it does a convincing job of delivering the experience of football games. During the non-game segments, the vast majority of the sound is broadcast through the center channel. The surround element doesn’t really start coming into play until either game time or some other action sequence of some type. All in all, the sound delivery is adequate and gets the message across.
Here is one area where Friday Night Lights doesn’t deliver. In comparison to some other high profile season sets recently released, this series offers only a twenty one minute “Behind the Scenes”, previews of other TV shows, and deleted scenes for almost every episode. There aren’t any commentary tracks, outtakes, or informational goodies. For such a promising show, it’s disappointing to see the supplemental extras not fulfilled to the quality of the series itself.
During Friday Night Lights’ original run, I was one of those people who kept hearing that the show was getting great reviews but I never bothered to tune in. After watching this entire season on DVD, I find myself wishing I had paid more attention. I was engrossed and fascinated by the lives of these characters. The roles were incredibly fleshed out and extremely well developed, even when the episode’s plot covered topics that have already been seen before. Ultimately, this is Friday Night Light’s greatest strength. They aren’t presenting the viewer with conflicts that haven’t been experienced already, but they are doing it in an original and creative manner that makes these plot points feel fresh. I will be waiting and looking forward to the second season. I give Friday Night Lights: Season 1 my full recommendation.