`Friday Night' is lighting up the small screen

TV Preview

October 03, 2006|By Diane Werts | Diane Werts,Newsday

Is it that football is life, or life is football? Probably both in Friday Night Lights, NBC's rewardingly seasoned new drama series that's practically indistinguishable from the acclaimed feature film, except that it's better.

The loosely translated characters are fuller and richer (renamed and distanced from the film based on the nonfiction book), while the nuanced portrait of a West Texas town that revolves around its high school team remains a restlessly throbbing piece of facsimile cinema-verite. (The real-life town of Odessa is now the fictionalized Dillon.) Writer-director Peter Berg returns to not so much downsize his big-screen panorama as to deepen it. The same thoughtful, quasi-documentary tone that originally encapsulated an entire season/lifetime for its young athletes now narrows its focus to just one game/life-test each episode, while broadening the scope to incisively eye the team's impact on its coach, school, families, community and culture.

On TV Friday Night Lights premieres at 8 tonight on NBC.

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