I freely and shamelessly admit that I am one of the 4 + million (and falling) viewers that tune in each week to “Friday Night Lights.” Based on a 2004 film by the same name, “Friday Night Lights”, is an NBC drama about a small town Texas high school football team. The series has been struggling to find an audience for the past 2.5 years and against all odds is currently in the middle of its third season.
There’s just something so appealing about this slice of life drama, despite its cliché-ridden plotlines and sometimes outrageous southern stereotypes. This show is all about the ensemble cast, including Kyle Chandler (”Early Edition”), and Connie Britton (”24″), Janine Turner (”Northern Exposure”) and a cast of relative unknown Texas-based young talent. I love a show that doesn’t rely too heavily on star power, focusing rather on storylines and character arcs.
The show also paints a slightly more realistic portrayal of small town Texas. This past week was my first opportunity to view “Friday Night Lights” in all of its High-Def glory, with my recently-purchased new High Def TV. As soon as I set up the new TV and TV stand, I hit up my TiVo queue, starting with “Friday Night Lights.” The bright blue Dillon, TX sky never looked so good! Anyway, last week’s episode said goodbye to former series regular Scott Porter as the wheel-chair ridden former-Quarter Back Jason Street.
When the show started in 2006, Street was a major player, starting out the season with a catastrophic injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Since the first season though, Scott Porter’s Jason Street has been used less and less, before disappearing altogether. Returning in Season 3 in a guest-starring capacity (instead of season regular), Street’s arc just came to a conclusion, as his character prepares to move to New York City to start a career as a Sports Agent and father to his son.
According to Porter on Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch blog, he got the call in June that his character was becoming a guest star. “It was a punch in the gut, I was upset, angry, but then I really started to think about it,” he said. “I really feel like we had painted Jason into a corner by cutting off from so many of the characters on the show over the first two years. There was no other way out.”
I’m sure this news had to have stung, especially given how integral a part of the show Jason Street’s character was from the beginning. His injury put the spotlight on a bunch of other cast members, including the replacement QB, Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) an underdog who quickly became a fan favorite. Well, all good things must come to an end and Porter has accepted his fate. If nothing else, his burgeoning film career seems to be taking off with past roles in high profile pictures like “Music & Lyrics,” “Prom Night,” “Speed Racer” and upcoming roles in 3 major studio releases allowing Porter to showcase both his comedic and dramatic chops.
All in all, Jason Street’s exit was bittersweet. While it’s sad to see him go, for the character, it was the perfect ending. Over the past two years, we’ve seen Jason Street at his lowest - depressed as a result of his crippling injuries and now at his best - employed and as a happy father and good boyfriend. This is definitely one of the most well-written dramas on prime time television today, and while the chances of a 4th season are quickly dwindling, fans can still hope.