(possible spoilers ahead….don't say I didn't warn you)
No, it's not some new club or nightspot (new club. ha. funny). No, Friday nights rock (again) because of the return of two critically-acclaimed, yet vastly under-watched tv shows.
Friday Night Lights (btw, how hot are these two? And they're the "old" ones!) &….
These two shows actually have a lot in common (just bear with me!). Both shows debuted with massive critical acclaim, yet have struggled to find a mass audience. Both shows have won numerous awards (both have won the prestigious Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting), yet have been shut out by the major tv awards. Both shows revolve around a large ensemble cast of the most truly-realized (& openly-flawed) characters anywhere on tv.
FNL's struggles are partly due to the fact that NBC's marketing of this true tv gem has been abysmal at best. And they really didn't help by moving in around to different days & time-slots (Tuesday, Sunday, Friday, 8pm, 9pm, etc.). The other thing is (& may I be the absolutely last person to say this), FNL is not aboutfootball; it's the backdrop, not the plot. This is no Varsity Blues (say it with me "I don't wa-ant your life"). What Peter Berg (creator, writer, sometimes director) has brought to tv is a fully realized world, where story-lines with teenagers & adults intertwine (shockingly as they do in real life) &, frankly, neither have all of the "right" answers or always do the "right" thing. This show brings to us the most realistic portrayal of marriage, adolescence, & family that you will find on the small screen. All the while not dumbing itself down for "public" consumption. I honestly cannot say enough wonderful things about this show. We are only 2 episodes into the third season & already some of the best performances have been given, to date, from these fine actors. The show is also answering one of it's biggest criticisms. Whether or not people will still be invested in a show where major characters will leave every year. The new characters this season hooked me in right away, so much so that I am torn between them & my old fav's. Some other big names shows (Heroes & Lost…I'm talking to you) could take a few pointers on this front.
I know that Battlestar Galactica (BSG to us
nerds fans) might be a little harder sell for some of you. First of all it airs on Sci-Fi (Space in Canada) & I'm fairly certain that some of you either didn't even know that this channel exists, or wouldn't normally be caught dead tuning into it. I assure you, that besides a (slightly disturbing) bald-cap worn by Mary McDonnell, there are no weirdly made-up characters or crazy robot aliens. Well there are those Cylons, but are they really robots? (Sorry…focus). Much like FNL with football, BSG uses space as a backdrop. Often you get lost in the storytelling & forget that you are in space. We pick up at the beginning of season 4.5 (trust me, don't even attempt to try to understand that) with the realization that the long sought after salvation of Earth was nuked almost 2000 years before. And oh, by the way, it wasn't humans who were there, rather the "enemy" Cylons. This pretty much puts everyone's life into a tailspin. Our leaders (Mary McDonnell's President Roslin & Edward James Olmos' Admiral Adama) retreat to themselves, while a full scale mutiny rises up underneath them. In the first episode alone a romance is (somewhat) re-kindled, one major character commits suicide, two others have a fist fight, another faces her own mortality, & we find out who that final (elusive) Cylon is (for those who watch…how awesome was that?!?). For those of you who read those last few sentences & said "snore", "what?" or "boring", let me say this: BSG is a true & rare thinker's show. It takes real-world issues (from political to social to personal) & gives the characters a chance to hash out the different perspectives. Never preachy. Never deciding for us what we should think. Just laying the subject matter at our feet & letting us ponder the complexities of it all. How gray life truly is.
BSG airs Fridays on Sci-Fi/Space at 10pm. FNL airs Fridays on NBC at 9pm. (If you do no other tv watching, please, please, please watch this show. Fine tv comes along so infrequently, that when it does it should be rewarded.) The previous seasons of each show are available now on DVD, & all episodes can be seen at Hulu.com .