Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Clear Eyes Full Hearts Cant lose

Past month had been richly rewarding for my personal growth. I took a 10-day break during year-end to relax and do lot of things. I ended up reading couple of books, resumed running daily and watched all seasons of Friday Night Lights. Friday Night Lights, eh? whats that? Yes it doesn’t figure in the usual suspects of TV series like Friends, Big Bang Theory, Prison Break, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones etc and none of my friends heard about it. Chances are that you might not have even heard about the movie by the same name by the same director or the book on which it is based. Both TV series and movie are based on the book by H.G. Bissinger which rotates around the life of a football coach in a small town in Texas, USA where the whole town is obsessed about their high-school football team. Although the TV series did not get tremendous commercial success, it is critically acclaimed and has very devoted followers. So what makes this series so special?

A coach trying to transform an underdog team to make them champions is a tried and tested formulae for a great story. Remember the Titans, Any Given Sunday, Coach Carter or our very Indian Chak De India, all are examples of successful movies on the similar storyline. So inherently Friday Night Lights has a storyline that makes it naturally likeable where Coach Eric Taylor builds up a team from Dillon, Texas - a small town where football is the widest conversation topic - to win State Championship. But the series is about much more than that - actually almost every significant issue from teenager issues like drugs, pregnancy, alcohol, racism, love, rivalry to family issues like parenting problems, taking care of sick old people, couple fights or other societal problems like unemployment, education. Each and every issue is portrayed in a very realistic way on how they affect people of a small town. The book actually is a journalistic work where author stayed in Odessa, Texas and covered 1988 season for the high school team Permian Panthers.

The story starts with Coach Taylor joining the team and first few episodes built the context on how integral is Football to the town and practically everybody is obsessed on every Friday Night’s game. The town has radio programmes to discuss football and everyone has an opinion on the game and players. Coach Taylor oscillates between being Jesus to Judas to the town where “For Sale” boards are seen in morning in front of his house after every significant loss. In first episode the team loses their strongest player - quarterback and captain - to a paralyzing injury and the team suddenly found itself fighting hard to survive from being the top contender for the championship. The coach then develops a mediocre player to be the new quarterback who successfully takes team to win the championship.

The series displays lot of struggle by the players, the coach and their families and how they are able to cope up with them. The good part about this series is that there are more than ten strong characters at any point of time whose lives and hardships the story revolves around. It has been real treat watching it and I am already doing reruns. I also watched the movie and the movie doesn’t even come close to the TV series. So highly recommended watch - especially for American Football fans or if you have like TV series based out of small towns in past.