This Week in TV: Football Season is Over
One football season ended, another warmed up, and I am this close to canceling cable and just using the Internet. This was the week in TV Land:
• I have never wanted a team to win a game as badly as I wanted the Lions to beat the Panthers in Friday's season finale of Friday Night Lights. I thought nothing could match the anticipation I felt in the first season when the Panthers went to state, but no, this year's season-ending showdown between the East Dillon Lions and the West Dillon Panthers had the perfect amount of tension and release, as well as the ideal opportunity for Landry to redeem himself when (spoiler alert, but you knew that) he kicked a 47-yard field goal to win it for the Lions. But the game brought home just how much else has gone to seed at the end of the show's fourth and penultimate season.
The story line with Vince owing the gang leader a murder was apparently just dropped faster than you can say "Landry killed a guy but let's just pretend that never happened." Matt showed back up for the closure he didn't need with Julie just to get Landry to take a trip to Chicago, while Tami found herself out of a job because she'd followed legal protocol and discussed all possible options with Becky when the young girl wanted to talk about ending her pregnancy.
I'd hoped beyond hope that Luke would step up to his mom and make her see that her crusade to destroy Tami was really just misplaced anger at her son for knocking up Becky, but apparently that lacked the melodrama and pointlessness of having Tami burned alive and sent to East Dillon to head the counseling program. And poor, poor Tim Riggins, taking the legal blame for his brother's scheme just to keep Billy out of prison. Noble and stupid and heartbreaking. It's hard not to always want the best for Tim, who's been dealt such a bum hand, so this is tough to take. No idea if he'll show up again next season, but I'd hate to see him in prison orange. Overall: a solid season, and though the show's first will always remain its best, I know I'll tune in next year for the final outing. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.
• If you're not watching Rubicon on AMC, you should check it out. It's a slow-burn political thriller in the mode of 1970s features; the pilot episode feels for all the world like a modern spin on 3 Days of the Condor, and even though the series is set in 2010, it's (so far) resolutely committed to an analog, figure-it-out-on-paper approach to its mysteries. Don't be put off by its deliberate pace, either. We've been trained to expect explosions and laughs every 20 seconds, but sometimes that's just not enough. It's entirely possible for a slowly paced series to be bad, but slowness does not automatically equate with badness. The network offers full episodes online, too, so give it a look:
• Carol Burnett is set to guest star on Glee next season as Sue Sylvester's "Nazi-hunting mother," because of course she will. Someone who is still bored enough to watch Glee will have to tell me what happens.
• Bad news for Breaking Bad fans: The fourth season isn't premiering until July 2011. Considering the third season ended in June, that's a pretty big wait for fans. AMC is planning to create minisodes for their website to try and make the 13-month gap more palatable, so that's something, right?
• The ending of Lost left viewers asking several questions: What was life like for Ben and Hurley when they took over the island? How awesome would it be to see a spinoff cop show starring Sawyer and Miles? Did I just invest considerable time and energy in a mystery story that shat itself in terror at the idea of coming up with a good ending? Now, we finally have the answer to one of those questions, with the online teasing of a few minutes from "The New Man in Charge," an epilogue shot for the upcoming DVD release of the sixth season that details in part what happened when Hurley became the new Jacob. Full versions are being yanked down as quickly as they leak, but here's a sample for you.
• Topher Grace, not content with merely forcing the world to call him Topher, has decided to use his still somehow considerable power to try and birth a reboot of CHiPs. CHiPs ran for an improbable 139 episodes between 1977 and 1983, a fact which says about all you need to know concerning life in the United States at that time. His Topherdome is apparently looking to exec produce the series, with Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton of Numbers working on a script draft.
• Here's something interesting: HBO has nabbed the rights to The Promise: The Making of "Darkness on the Edge of Town", a documentary about Bruce Springsteen's fourth album and the dark follow-up to Born to Run. The doc premieres next month at the Toronto International Film Festival, and is set to air on HBO in October.
• "Holy hitlers mothers tits" (sic): FX has picked up Louie for a second season of 13 episodes. This is welcome news, and frankly a no-brainer for the network: Louis C.K. shoots and edits these eps on a shoestring, after which they air to some of the best reviews of the comedian's TV career. FX, you're all right.
• If you're thinking of having a child, don't bother: Entourage is ending next year, and the world as we know it will not be fit to live in without the regular broadcast continuing sexual exploits of Vincent Chase and his merry band of hangers-on. The world was so bright and wondrous when the show made its debut in 2004: Full of possibility, the air tingling with love not yet discovered, foods not yet tasted, strippers not yet fucked in a hot tub. But now, those days are gone, and Vince and his incorrigible companions are preparing their final exit. This is despair.
• There's not a lot on this week; we're still in the pit of summer, when you're better off checking out other shows via DVD or streaming. As an example, here's one for you Netflix members. (If you don't subscribe to the service, you might want to consider it; a few bucks a month for the cheapest DVD plan will still give you access to the growing library of streaming content.) Although it aired in the U.S. and Canada as MI-5, the series' original name is Spooks. It's a BBC drama about spies, which is all you need to know to jump into the first batch of episodes here. The first four volumes are available via Watch Instantly. Don't say I never gave you anything.