Tag Archives: Connie Britton

Friday Night Lights – “Toilet Bowl”

“Toilet Bowl”

January 6th, 2010

Friday Night Lights is a show that, despite various dips in quality, has not fundamentally changed since its first season. It has always been a show about the people in a football-crazy town, revealing both the problems which complicate their lives and the people (and the sport) that helps them keep grounded.

The show’s problem has been those moments (primarily isolated in the second season, but cropping up in the first season as well) where it feels as if the problems are the only thing that’s working about the show. The second season didn’t just struggle because a character murdered someone, but rather because the show simultaneously retreated from the football culture that was its heart: I don’t believe the murder would have ever been a good idea regardless, but it could have been handled much more efficiently if it had been folded into the community rather than remaining a distraction.

While the fourth season started as an homage to Season Three, with Matt Saracen’s farewell arc echoing Smash and Street’s exits, it has quickly evolved into an extended test of whether the show better understands the mistakes it has made in the past. The show has never been beyond having people make mistakes, and delaying the consequences of those mistakes, but the show is stepping into familiar stories, and not in a good way. “Toilet Bowl” is filled with red flags, characters taking actions that come from a somewhat logical place but which for the sake of narrative expediency are coming faster than they probably should.

It’s adding up to a show that I’m not quite as excited as watching, even if (relative to the second season) there are more reminders of the show and the community that elevate that drama to another level.

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Friday Night Lights – “Stay”

“Stay”

December 9th, 2009

“What else do you want?”

Last season, when Friday Night Lights said goodbye to Jason Street and Smash Williams, they were leaving to be able to follow their dreams. Jason left Dillon so that he could be with his baby mama, while Smash left so that he could fulfill his dream of playing college football despite his recent injury. In both cases, what kept them in Dillon was out of their control: Street’s injury kept him from taking the path he had always imagined for himself, while Smash’s injury delayed what was supposed to be his triumphant moment. They did not so much stay in Dillon as they were forced to remain in Dillon, and as such we were able to view their eventual departures as an overcoming of unique circumstances.

However, if we root for Tim Riggins or Matt Saracen to leave Dillon, Texas, we are effectively arguing against staying rather than arguing for their departure. Dillon is holding these two characters back more than it is helping them move onto the next stage of their journey, and while both Jason and Smash found support and opportunity in Dillon that could give them the boost they needed it has become inherently clear that living in a trailer and delivering pizzas is not going to be a stepping stone to a prosperous future for either 7 or 33.

Accordingly, “Stay” is about those characters (and quite a few others) dealing with the separation anxiety that people have with the town of Dillon, the people who live in it, and the connections they made that cannot be overwritten so easily by things like common sense or opportunity. You may want to stay, but if you ask yourself what else you might want out of life you might find that staying isn’t going to achieve those goals. While not quite the emotional powerhouse of last week, it’s an almost too consistently themed hour that connects well with the last we’ll see of Matt Saracen for at least a little while.

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Friday Night Lights – “In the Skin of a Lion”

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“In the Skin of a Lion”

November 11th, 2009

It isn’t precisely a dud, but “In the Skin of a Lion” is certainly the weakest episode of the fourth season thus far. It’s really an issue of premise more than it is of execution: every scene and storyline that they ask these actors to portray is effective and hitting the right notes, but there are some underlying imbalances to be found within them.

It’s a problem that the show had, to some degree in its third season, but which felt overcome by an intense emotional centre that kept the show balanced. Part of what the episode is about is how that emotional core is absent in East Dillon, and while the episode works to bring it back the vacuum at the centre of the East Dillon Lions makes this episode distinctly less enjoyable or empowering than the episodes which came before it.

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2009 Emmy Award Predictions: Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

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Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Predictions

There is no tougher category to predict than this one, where it is actually possible that all six nominees could come from only two shows, and chances are that no one could really argue about their quality.

Those two shows are Grey’s Anatomy and In Treatment. The former has Katherine Heigl back in the mix with some material (Terminal Illness! Ghost Sex!) that is definitely “good enough,” Chandra Wilson dealing with professional and personal struggles (always a winner), and Sandra Oh getting strangled by her PTSD boyfriend. The latter has last year’s winner Dianne Wiest, plus two new patients who made a big impact: cancer patient Alison Pill, and former patient turned lawyer turned patient Hope Davis. Any of these women could garner a nomination, although my money is on Heigl, Wilson, Wiest and Pill at the end of the day.

This only leaves a few spots available. In terms of old contenders, Rachel Griffiths is always a threat for her work on Brothers & Sisters (she’s another one getting nominated for never winning for another show, Six Feet Under), while Rose Byrne looks to make up for last year’s snub with another highly illogical supporting performance that’s clearly a lead. Plus, while she didn’t make the cut last year, Connie Britton continues to do amazing work on Friday Night Lights, and the voters actually picking up on this would make me extremely happy. However, with veteran Candice Bergen submitting for Boston Legal, that could all go up in flames.

There’s also an opportunity for Mad Men to break through here, as Christina Hendricks was a surprising top 10 choice last year and the show has only increased in buzz. Combine with a hugely impressive story arc, including a scene I simply can’t erase from my mind, and she should be a shoe-in – however, it’s hard to know whether she can compete with a huge number of big names, especially with Mad Men’s second season ending earlier than most back in the fall.

Elizabeth Mitchell, who has never managed to break the Top 10 for her work on Lost, put together some strong work, but ultimately is too far off Emmy’s radar to break through on popular vote, as Lost has never connected with voters outside of Supporting Actor and Drama Series. Her chance was in Season 3, I think, although I’d be mighty pleased to see her sneak in as a surprise.

The two big “newcomers” are enormously different. Marcia Gay Harden is an Oscar-winning actress who joined the cast of Damages as a head-strong lawyer who went head-to-head with Glenn Close. Anika Noni Rose, meanwhile, was not nominated for anything for her role in Dreamgirls but gets a showy role on No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency that’s very funny but also highly emotional. While I may be convinced that Hurt isn’t going to grab a nomination, I think Harden was more closely connected with Close and stands a better shot here.

Predictions for Supporting Actress in a Drama

  • Marcia Gay Harden (“Damages”)
  • Katherine Heigl (“Grey’s Anatomy”)
  • Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”)
  • Allison Pill (“In Treatment”)
  • Dianne Wiest (“In Treatment”)
  • Chandra Wilson (“Grey’s Anatomy”)

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Friday Night Lights – “The Giving Tree”

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“The Giving Tree”

December 10th, 2008

If you’re a fan of Friday Night Lights, “The Giving Tree” is an episode made for you. It’s all about callbacks to past events, to incidents that are three seasons in the making and which are reflective of past events. The episode’s main problem, in fact, is that it leans somewhat too heavily on those elements of the story, feeling fairly limited in its real “new” developments moving forward.

But I think we’re reaching the point where, the show’s renewal seeming more and more unlikely within the newly limited primetime environment at NBC, anything that speaks to the future seems premature (but tantalizingly interesting) while everything that speaks to its past seems like a justified farewell. So when the storyline circles back to the question of Julie having sex, and its impact on her mother in particular, it feels like something that had to happen, and did admittedly feel like a new sort of conversation than what we saw in “I Think We Should Have Sex.”

The other two major storylines in the episode felt somewhat more derivative, one because of the history of the two characters (as loathe as I am to discuss that history) and the other because it felt like a fairly contrived if socioeconomically realistic plot development. This isn’t to fault the episode on some broader level, and I’m happy that the resulting points of conflict are happening for the sake of getting more of characters I enjoy, but with only three episodes left in the season I’m getting to that point where I’m caught between past and future events.

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Season Premiere: Friday Night Lights – “I Knew You When”

“I Knew You When”

October 1st, 2008

There is something very intoxicating about Friday Night Lights. I knew this before, I guess, but this is the ultimate test. Although a mere check of my ‘About’ page would tell readers of this post that there’s something amiss with my doing this review, I just can’t help it. Even with too many shows by half already on my schedule, and numerous real life commitments, it is not within my level of will power to wait until whenever NBC decides that they’re going to run the third season of Friday Night Lights.

The DirecTV exclusivity deal is designed to save the series, to give it one last chance to prove itself within a more financially viable model, and I hate to be “part of the problem” when it comes to the effectiveness of this model. But, I want to live in a world where that deal doesn’t exist, or doesn’t need to: the show itself was in enough of a creative rut last season that seeing whether Jason Katims can prove himself is more than enough to drive me to dig into the show’s third season premiere.

What I found in “I Knew You When” was vintage FNL, a show that seems to have returned to a less convoluted and ultimately more effective structure. While many of the season’s clear trajectories are left mostly untouched in the premiere (Saracen, in particular, gets short-shifted something fierce), what we see is a very common theme: much as with the show’s chances for a fourth season (or an extension of the existing order), there are those who think that it can’t be done, and those who hold out hope for something better. To put it into football terms, something the show smartly does this season, there’s a lot of people thinking about calling a Hail Mary, and that has created an environment rife with an excitement about the future – and even if the show never gets to see it, watching the characters move towards the end of the tunnel seems like it will be worth it.

[If you are amongst those waiting until the show airs on NBC, first off I admire your willpower. Second, I will be discussing the episode in detail, so feel free to view this all-too tempting opening as your sign that the show is on the right track to start off.]

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The Top 12+ Snubs of the Emmy Top 10s

The Top 12 Snubs of the Emmy Top 10s

This post has been delayed a bit after getting captured between my new and old computers, but I think it’s for the best. When the Emmy Nominations are announced in just over a week’s time, more names will be added to this list, but what this list allows us to do is spread out the disappointment. That these contenders won’t even have a chance in front of a panel, though, is its own tragedy, and the more time I had to embrace this fact the more I realized how much this process hurts.

And it’s not that it’s not fair: while it may not always produce results I like, the current Emmy system is perhaps as close to democracy that they could possibly achieve. The reality of popular and patronage-dominated shows performing well at the Emmys will not go away anytime soon, so we should be thankful that there were some pleasant surprises as I discussed last week. But at the same time, we can’t help but feel it: that the people who were snubbed at this end of the process deserve recognition, no matter how they get it.

So, without further delay, and in no particular order, my Top 12 2008 Emmy Snubs…and let’s hope the list doesn’t grow too greatly next week.

1. Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)

Category: Supporting Actress, Drama Series

What more does she need to do to get noticed? Britton moved herself to the supporting category to avoid juggernauts like Sally Field or Glenn Close, but at the end of the day the category proved to be even more difficult to break into unless you’re heavily featured in a popular show or an award show veteran. She gave a fantastic performance through an uneven season, the constant rock the show could lean on. She makes weak storylines solid and good storylines great, and if that’s not a great supporting actress I don’t know what is.

2. January Jones (Mad Men)

Category: Supporting Actress, Drama Series

January Jones is the victim of her series’ plot – the show’s pilot, the episode most voters would have seen, doesn’t actually feature the character of Betty Draper, revealing her existence only at episode’s end. While someone like John Slattery was able to ride his reputation to a nomination, Jones doesn’t have the name recognition and is unfairly snubbed here. She did some amazing work embodying the 60s housewife, especially in “Shoot,” and that this portrayal won’t be seen by the judges is a disservice to the ensemble nature of the series. While I’m happy for Christina Hendricks, that was Jones’ spot.

3. Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies)

Category: Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

With all three of his primary co-stars breaking into their respective Top 10 lists, forgive me for being upset that my favourite was left off. Not known for his comic work, McBride’s Emerson Cod has been a delight. He’s a knitting private detective, for cripes sake, and he has adapted maybe best of all to the witicisms and whimsy that this world entails (albeit it through cynicism and sarcasm). The shortened season robbed him of a showcase episode (We got hints of a baity fatherhood episode), something that the other actors by comparison had, but that doesn’t mean that the show’s most consistently hilarious character should get snubbed. Here’s hoping the voters smarten up for the show’s second season.

For more snubs including performers from House, Lost and Battlestar Galactica, click on through.

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60th Primetime Emmy Awards Preview: Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

The biggest news to emerge from the depths of the Emmy obsessed into mainstream media this year is certainly the news that last year’s winner in this category, Katherine Heigl from Grey’s Anatomy, is not in the running. That itself is a surprise, but it was her reasoning that has sent shockwaves through Hollywood. As she first told TheEnvelope.com’s Tom O’Neill, after GoldDerby reader KellyClarksonFan discovered the omission:

“I am truly grateful for the honor that the Academy bestowed upon me last year. I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the Academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”

Now, the AP amongst others have taken this to its logical location: it’s a clear slap in the face to the show’s writers, and yet another moment where Heigl’s mouth has made more headlines than her acting ability. For the record, I think she’s right on the money in terms of the material she was given, but this is still a bit much. However, I choose to look at the positive side of this: with last year’s (arguably undeserving) winner gone, there’s more room for some of the fantastic candidates in this category.

And there are fantastic candidates: you have multiple candidates who are due for an Emmy win after numerous nominations, a few dark horses who won’t make the Top 10 but deserve recognition, one or two who might slip in based on series hype, and plenty of room for surprises at the top. And with Heigl gone, more of these deserving contenders have a shot.

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