Thursday, July 14, 2011

Full Hearts Indeed

I just want to thank all y'all who have been making this show:

I watched the finale last week, as the show was on Wednesdays this spring and was not interrupted for the hockey playoffs ironically enough.  So, I have spent the past week catching up on the old podcasts that were released when FNL finished its final run on DirectTV.  For a nice history of the show, go here.  And you can find the Sepinwall/Feinstein podcast and the Sepinwall/Sports Guy podcast here: (w/@hitfixdaniel) (@sportsguy33).

Thoughts about the finale and the show dwell below:

First, I have been struck by how predictable the finale was.  And this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially after the The Killing blew up with too many twists especially at the end.  What happened?  Coach goes with Mrs. Coach to my hometown.  Not a surprise at all, but watching the two play out the fight showed how real problems can create real tension even if we knew how it was going to end.  Plus it showed quite well a challenge that is quite endemic to the academic universe--the two-body problem.  This time, "It's my turn, babe."  Obviously.

Julie and Matt getting engaged was no surprise really, as this is how finales end things for young couples much of the time.  Were they too young?  Absolutely.  But when I was with my wife in the birthing classes in Lubbock, we were struck by the bimodal distribution of the couples--very young folks and the nearing 30 crowd.  So, small town Texas kids getting hitched?  Not a surprise. And not unrealistic.  The reactions to it were fantastic.  One of the best parts of FNL was how wonderfully funny Kyle Chandler was, despite or because he was the most intimidating guy around.

Back to Matt and Julie--to get engaged outside of an Alamo Freeze?  Perfect.  Matt is awkward to the very end.  Julie is still too immature, but she chose well, a guy who will be utterly committed to her.  And her realization that her parents, even in the midst of this epic battle over their future, are the role models for a relationship, is most touching. 

The return of past characters could have been mismanaged, but the show pulled it off.  Tim Riggins does not go to Alaska and does not go off into the sunset with Tyra.  Instead, he realizes that all he needs is his land, some beer, a job and he's fine (the Texas version of some cool waves, tasty buzz, etc.).  Of course, he somehow ended up abandoning his dog Skeeter.*
*  Broke my heart since Skeeter was a doppleganger for my dearly departed Flynn.
The Vince story line was also predictable--Vince approaches his father, his father demures, and then shows up at the big game.  And, yes, the undersized QB wins State and leads the new super-Dillon team.  But the path to there from the police car last season was wonderfully played by a Wire veteran.  "Where's Wallace?"  Kicking butt on FNL: you changed my life coach.  That this kid is now aware of where he was and where he is--very much an earned outcome. 

The Becky plotline was more fun when it was about her and the wonderfully challenged Riggins family than with Luke.  The work at the Landing Strip, the transformation of Mindy worrying about Becky as a threat (young chick in the house) to worrying about a Becky-less household was believable and sweet.  The best part of the Luke subplot was Alicia Witt's appearance and her line "as long as he learns to wear a condom."  While the show did not provide any clues ahead of time that Luke was going to join the army, I am not surprised.  Texas kids with no clue about their future?  The military is a common option.

Of course they won State.  And Coach goes on to a new team that needs his help (if not his clock management skills--the last minute heroics were not his fault!): "Clear eyes, full hearts ..." and his new team has no response, but we do: Can't Lose! 

Glad they had a chance to go out on their terms and that they stopped being overlooked at Emmy time (today, Chandler, Connie Britton and the show all got nominations).  The most amazing thing to me about this show is how much I loved it even though my memories of Texas were not positive ones, my memories of high school are generally not particularly happy ones, and I am not a big fan of organized sports in high school and college.  But the show was so well done--so well written, except for the annoying tendency to start and then drop plot threads (Skeeter must be with Santino), so well acted, so well directed.  And, once again, I am a sucker for sappy stuff.  Texas forever?  Um, no thanks.  But FNL forever, sure.

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