Lost is done, American Idol and Dancing with the Stars are over.
Do you think, finally, that some of you can give Friday Night Lights a try? You don't need to like football (although it helps).
The fourth season of this show has it all: racial tension, school redistricting and the underlying class warfare it can provoke, happily married couples squabbling over balancing the checkbook, crises of Christian faith and Richard the cranky artist's paean to the selfish necessities of forswearing all entangling allegiances — romantic or otherwise — to produce the crap that is immortal art.
Consider this a week-late mini-recap to last Friday's episode, setting up this evening's show (8 p.m., NBC). If you're looking for an excuse for my tardiness, let's just say that Internet service on the East Dillon side of town is a bit spotty. Either that, or I have the work ethic of Tim Riggins trying to sit through an English Lit class.
Coach Taylor, the most decent high-school football coach in all the land, has convinced what's left of the East Dillon Lions to come back to practice. His first morale-building exercise after the disastrous halftime forfeit of their season opener, after burning all their old uniforms, is to have the team push a rusted old car around the east side of town hoping to drum up contributions from the community.
This does not speak well of the entertainment options in East Dillon, and Coach Taylor ends up employing Riggins to surreptiously hand out Taylor's own cash to passersby in the hopes that they will give players the money and spark a flood of donations. Instead, most of the people end up pocketing the money.
At least this exercise keeps Riggins from wasting any more of his newfound willpower on his efforts to resist the flirtations of Becky, the curly-haired Tyra clone who's the daughter of the cougar bartender he bedded in an earlier episode, the one who's letting him rent out a trailer in her backyard. (Try saying all that three times without taking a breath.)
In another attempt to reform his slacker, bad-boy ways, Riggins also is helping Coach Taylor coach the overmatched Lions. You have to love the words of wisdom Riggins offers to reluctant transfer running back Luke Cafferty.
When the former Dillon Panther whines to Riggins that he can't do anything right in Coach Taylor's eyes and that he can't understand why he's being asked to practice as a defensive back, Riggins tells him to shut up and go "DB it up." Now that's coaching.
The relationship between Cafferty, who sees football as an opportunity to land a college scholarship and escape a life of loading hay on the family farm, and starting running back Vince, who's one strike away from juvenile detention, offers great potential as a way for the show to explore the racial tensions that can still flare up in the 21st century.
Vince, who is black, and his friends see Luke as the perceived great white hope who no doubt will win Coach Taylor's favor at Vince's expense. So when Luke intercepts a pass at the end of a blowout loss, Vince breaks stride and refuses to throw a block that would have cleared the way for the Lions' first touchdown of the season.
This does not sit well with the most decent high-school football coach in all the land, who lights into Vince as he comes off the field. But Coach Taylor is not mad enough, apparently, to keep him off the field for Landry's attempted field-goal, and when the snap is botched, Vince scoops it up and runs his way into the end zone for a game-ending, morale-boosting score.
It's fair to say that tonight's episode will delve deeper into the simmering Vince-Luke feud.
It's probably also inevitable that goofy but sweet Landry, the newly appointed Lions kicker, is destined to hook up with Jess, the beautiful East Dillon dance team member whose dad just so happened to be a star quarterback before growing disenchanted with the sport after his own pro dreams died.
The two met cute earlier this season when Landry almost ran her over as he backed up his car and destroyed her bike, so I'm guessing this romance is a done deal.
And besides, Landry also killed a man stalking Tyra in Season Two, known here as "The year Friday Night Lights desperately tried (in vain) to drum up higher ratings by sexing up the show with some cheesy 90210 storylines." If we can swallow that, I guess we can accept this coupling.
But the burning question remaining after last week's installment is, how in the heck is Buddy Garrity going to ever sell a car again in Dillon after his scorched-earth farewell from the Dillon Panthers booster club?
Coach Taylor's pleas for help drumming up funds for the impoverished East Dillon program eventually get to Buddy, especially when Taylor wounds him by telling Buddy his old Dillon Panthers state title ring is looking awfully tarnished. But the final straw for Buddy is the Panthers booster club party at the McCoys' house, where he overhears some booster joking about how Joe McCoy is going to run Coach Taylor's wife out of her job as principal of West Dillon.
Instead of calling her "Principal Taylor," though, they call her "that [rhymes with 'snitch'], and an enfuriated Buddy announces he's done with the Panthers. Calling McCoy, dad of the Panthers' star QB and head of the booster club, a cancer to the program, Buddy announces that he was the one that tipped off Coach Taylor that Luke Cafferty lived within East Dillon's district.
With a final, "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," Buddy storms off.
At this point, if Joe McCoy had a handlebar mustache, he would have been twirling its end, sneering and laughing devilishly. Seriously, actor D.W. Moffett must be loving all the opportunities he's getting this season to chew up this scenery this season as McCoy the over-the-top evil football dad.
Makes you wonder if the corpse of Mrs. McCoy (portrayed last season by the lovely Janine Turner) is moldering in his mansion's basement.