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The Televisionist, Oct. 11

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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12

NBC-KARK (Comcast Ch. 5)

Thank, God. The best show on television (at least until “The Wire” picks back up next year) is back, and the writing staff seems to have righted the ship after episodes late last season threatened to send it careening into the already crowded sea of pap.

Which is to say, at the pinnacle of the show's ratings last season, “Friday Night Lights” devolved from a soap opera driven by honest emotion into just a plain ol' soap opera. Now secure in its second season, “FNL” isn't shying away from melodrama, but still managed, in the first episode, to bring back the honesty. To backtrack for the uninitiated, “FNL,” superficially, has nothing going for it. Spawned from an overblown, if atmospheric, movie about a football-obsessed West Texas town and starring a ridiculously beautiful cast of teens, the show threatened to be “90210” meets “All the Right Moves.” But as every review and any word-of-mouth praise anyone's ever passed along says, the show isn't much about football. Rather, it delves into the emotional life of a small town, focusing mainly on teens, who despite their perfect smiles and chiseled cheek bones have never been realer.

Like most good teen-centric shows, the kids are mostly left to fend for themselves, except in the Taylor family — Coach Eric (played masterfully by Kyle Chandler), his wife, Tamie (ditto by Connie Britton), and their teen daughter, Julie. Never have the nuances of a family dynamic so aptly been captured. Watch!

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