Day 27- Best pilot episode
Pilot episodes are a tricky thing. There is a lot of information to introduce in a very short time. The best pilots manage to do this and make you want to come back for more. When I watched the pilot for Friday Night Lights, I didn’t just want to come back. I felt like I had to come back. I had grown so attached to the town and characters in that first hour, I couldn’t stay away if I tried.
My favorite thing about Friday Night Lights is how real it feels. From the very first frame, the town Dillon and the people inhabiting it are made real. The cinematography is key in creating a realistic atmosphere. The cameras aren’t perfectly steady and things are filmed in focus, like the scene with Lyla and Jason kissing outside by his truck as she fake interviews him. It gives a documentary feel as if cameras were just dropped into town.
You get a sense of just how tiny Dillon is through the small details. The signs in the player’s yards. The random man who tells Coach Taylor that he drives by the school and look for Coach’s car to see if he’s in his office. The kickoff pep rally at the car dealership. It all gives the feeling of an intimate town where everyone knows each other and their business.
I recognize people I know in the characters. One of my little brothers was a high school football star. On more than one occasion I overheard strangers talking about what a great game Matty played and what a hell of a player he was. While he wasn’t a quarterback, I recognized so much of him in Matt Saracen. Besides the obvious (same names yo), both Matt’s have a quietness about them. A need to be perfect on the field. A crushing disappointment when the team loses. While I recognized the comparison more as the show went on, I could see the spark as early as the pilot.
I’m a huge football fan. While I often tell non-football fans that the show has very little actual football in it, the games are some of my favorite parts. Watching Tim Riggins make a big hit is like crack for me (at least what I imagine crack to do like). I see a little bit and instantly crave more. The best part is that you don’t have to be a super fan to understand the gameplay.
You can see the path that the show is going to take. It’s all about Jason Street, football star, and his last season before he plays college ball or is drafted to the NFL. Then Street is paralyzed with ten minutes left in the first episode. Everything that you thought the show was going to be is turned on its head. Real stakes are introduced. And everyone watching is in for a hell of a ride.