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Friday Night Lights: Saving it One Letter at a Time

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Friday Night Lights: Saving it One Letter at a Time

Old 06-29-07, 09:02 AM
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Friday Night Lights: Saving it One Letter at a Time

I LOVE this:

A rather amusing and heartfelt plea from a Tv Critic at the Boston Globe

A letter to a new TV exec
(from someone who really, really doesn't want him to make a mistake)

June 29, 2007

Dear Ben Silverman,

Mazels on the new situation as co chair of NBC. I envy you about as much as I envy the person who'll take the presidency from Bush -- that is, not much. I hope you've got plenty of Krazy Glue on hand, because you've got a lot of pieces to put back together. But, as producer of network TV's best comedy, "The Office," and the pop-art soap "Ugly Betty," you clearly have good instincts.

But Ben, I am nonetheless nervous about "Friday Night Lights" -- yes, the show that all the critics are whining about and that will probably become a thorn in your side if it isn't already because it will remind us all of another egregious NBC botch, "Freaks and Geeks." Dude, you gotta make it work.

You gotta find a way to represent "FNL" with more excitement to viewers. Despite the fact that NBC is the hippest kid on the network block, the one with Tina Fey and Steve Carell and "Scrubs" and Jason Lee and "Heroes," it has been unable to tell viewers that "FNL" is not medicine. Sure, it's a "family" show and it trucks in "rousing" sports movie cliches. And its docu-poetic approach to small-town Texas life is perfectly suited for those artsy viewers who've seen "The Last Picture Show."

But "FNL" is also a charged relationship drama that stars some amazing young actors. Find a way to sell it to audiences who like youth soaps. Put the show's kids out there -- and not always in football uniforms or against a football-field backdrop. Obviously, Zach Gilford, Gaius Charles, Scott Porter, Taylor Kitsch, and Aimee Teegarden are pretty and sellable, not to mention talented.

But also make a publicity point of Jesse Plemons, who plays the geeky Landry. He's a great character, a Texas take on Seth Cohen from "The O.C." And as recovering bad girl Tyra, Adrianne Palicki has great offbeat allure. The potential of these two characters makes me think of Hiro and Claire from "Heroes."

OK, obviously "FNL" does not have the pop appeal of "Heroes," or the upcoming "Chuck," and to portray it that way would be misleading. But still, NBC could goose up its commercial approach to the series without betraying it. Of this I am certain. Just because the characters on the show don't have money, you don't have to make them seem boring and completely tragic to viewers, as if they're like the kids on -- gag -- "American Dreams." Maybe some of NBC's wealthy urban viewers would like seeing how others live?

And I am also certain that NBC is committing an oddly flagrant act of self-destruction by programming "FNL" this fall on Friday nights at 10. Seriously, what's up with that? Why bother renewing the series if you are then going to kill it? I don't even want to try to describe why the show will fail then. It just seems so obvious to me. Find a better time slot. As an NBC-er, there should be a little Tim Gunn in your brain speaking the magic words over and over again.

I know that, after a brief, unsuccessful attempt to bring viewers to "FNL" repeats this summer on Sunday nights, you have replaced them with "Law & Order" reruns. How about making a bold move? Instead of running three or four "Office" reruns back-to-back on Thursdays this summer, how about putting "FNL" in an "Office" sandwich? How about getting some of the kids from the show onto the promo circuit somehow?

How about doing some viral meta stuff, too -- maybe a faux ad for "FNL" in which Kyle Chandler is trying to be like Coach Taylor on the set of the show and all the young actors think he's a creep? Now is the time. I am sure "FNL" will get a few Emmy nods next month; ride that wave into the fall.

And that's all, for now. The show might fail despite your best efforts, but at least you'll know you tried.

Best wishes,

Matthew Gilbert

P.S. I have three additional words for you: Amy. Poehler. Sitcom.
Old 06-29-07, 09:28 AM
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He had me until Amy Poehler sitcom. At that point, his opinion was rendered meaningless.
Old 06-29-07, 09:33 AM
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Great letter and I love the show. My favorite new show of last year. Superb writing and acting. Landry is the untapped star.

Originally Posted by DVD Josh
He had me until Amy Poehler sitcom. At that point, his opinion was rendered meaningless.
Just remember what everyone was saying about Tina Fey before 30 Rock. She was slammed far more than Poehler. I think with the right premise she could be gold. Maybe a one legged trailer park white trash hooker with excessive flatulence.
Old 06-29-07, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Ayre
Great letter and I love the show. My favorite new show of last year. Superb writing and acting. Landry is the untapped star.


Just remember what everyone was saying about Tina Fey before 30 Rock. She was slammed far more than Poehler. I think with the right premise she could be gold. Maybe a one legged trailer park white trash hooker with excessive flatulence.
:shurg: I always thought Tina was funny. The fact I don't find 30 Rock in the least bit amusing doesn't change my opinion of her either.
Old 06-29-07, 10:00 AM
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I might have to buy a copy of the Boston Globe after reading that.
Old 06-29-07, 10:40 AM
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Good letter. I think an Amy Poehler sitcom could be funny.
Old 06-29-07, 11:36 AM
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Good letter. He seems to share the same Boomtowning concern I have about FNL.
Old 06-29-07, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Ben Silverman
Obviously, Zach Gilford, Gaius Charles, Scott Porter, Taylor Kitsch, and Aimee Teegarden are pretty and sellable, not to mention talented.

But also make a publicity point of Jesse Plemons, who plays the geeky Landry. He's a great character, a Texas take on Seth Cohen from "The O.C." And as recovering bad girl Tyra, Adrianne Palicki has great offbeat allure. The potential of these two characters makes me think of Hiro and Claire from "Heroes."
Uh ... Minka Kelly? Connie Britton? Really, dude -- you'd sell this show with Teegarden over Kelly? Wake up!

Hard to respect a guy who won't shut up about Heroes and then "gags" on the superior American Dreams, the one show that is more comparable to his beloved Friday Night Lights than any other series in recent memory.

das
Old 06-29-07, 12:10 PM
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Minka Kelly was the weak link for me. She is a horrible crier. The kind that looks like they are smiling and crying at the same time. Adrianne Palicki has come a long way. Her chemistry with Landry is one of the best parts of the show. Shy geeks falls for high school slut. She uses him to reclaim her innocence, but will utlimately discard him in the end. He will be left a broken hearted virgin. We have watched the story a hundred times, but it is played out so well in FNL.

Every single storyline is riveting TV.
Old 06-29-07, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
...I don't find 30 Rock in the least bit amusing ....
*makes mental note to not put much stock in Josh's opinons.
Old 06-29-07, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by slop101
*makes mental note to not put much stock in Josh's opinons.
I guess I wonder when during the season and how much people watched of 30 Rock when they don't find it funny. After the first several episodes, I would've agreed. It took a pretty major turn at some point and leaped to the top 2-3 of the comedies I currently watch.
Old 06-29-07, 01:47 PM
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Well I tried to watch it on Sunday nights, but now L & O is on, but I will be buying the dvd when it comes out in August. I hope that helps.
Old 07-02-07, 03:03 PM
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Gee, I wonder why NBC pulled it from Sunday's?
Could it be that NEW people were watching for the very first time because they had heard about how great it was... but were totally confused because the IDIOTS at NBC decided NOT to air them in ORDER and so they didn't watch after the second aired episode because none of it made any sense?
They have Law and Order marathons at least once a week... they can't do the same with this show? AND SHOW THEM IN ORDER??

Is NBC totally to blame for all this? How about Brian Grazer, he's the money behind this show.. has he got too much on his plate that he can't plug this thing?
Old 07-02-07, 03:18 PM
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I couldn't understand why they did that. I was trying to catch Veronica Mars Season 3 this summer, but last week they skipped 2 episodes.
Frustrating stuff.
Old 07-03-07, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by slop101
*makes mental note to not put much stock in Josh's opinons.
*makes mental note to not put much stock in slop's opinions.

30 Rock sucks so bad it's painful.
Old 07-03-07, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by das Monkey
Hard to respect a guy who won't shut up about Heroes and then "gags" on the superior American Dreams, the one show that is more comparable to his beloved Friday Night Lights than any other series in recent memory.

das
I agree completely. FNL is a lot like American Dreams (which IMHO was the last great drama NBC aired before FNL). It's a shame that more people didn't watch AD and aren't watching FNL. I really hope NBC can do something to get people interested.
Old 07-03-07, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Flave
*makes mental note to not put much stock in slop's opinions.

30 Rock sucks so bad it's painful.

*makes mental note to....ah nevermind. I like 30 Rock. Funny stuff.
Old 07-03-07, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by apeyard
I agree completely. FNL is a lot like American Dreams (which IMHO was the last great drama NBC aired before FNL). It's a shame that more people didn't watch AD and aren't watching FNL. I really hope NBC can do something to get people interested.

If we can squeeze 3 years out of FNL like AD got plus get a satisfactory conclusion, I'll be happy enough with that.

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