Notebook: Cut the power to the 'Friday Night Lights' movie

NBC

By Kelly Etz, Daily TV/New Media Editor
Published March 18, 2012

Having heard that Peter Berg was all systems go for a “Friday Night Lights” movie, I did what any normal person would do when faced with this news in conjunction with a week-long break. I re-watched every episode of “Friday Night Lights” ever produced — all five seasons, from the shiver-inducing “We all fall” speech in the last minutes of the pilot, through every win and loss, to the final tear-wrenching moments of the season finale.

I waited with baited breath as Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) stepped up for paralyzed Jason Street (Scott Porter), shook my head furiously when I found out Smash Williams (Gaius Charles) blew out his knee and his chances for a scholarship in one fateful crunch, lusted after adorably and habitually drunk Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch), alternated between sympathy and hatred for golden boy J.D. McCoy (Jeremy Sumpter), and fell in love with every sweetly accented word out of Coach Taylor’s (Kyle Chandler) mouth. I virtually lived and breathed Dillon football.

And in doing so, I realized that while the question of choosing your favorite TV show isn’t taken lightly — favorite here meaning the TV show you followed religiously when it aired, then ran out and bought the season DVDs, watching them till your DVD player died and the backs of the discs were so scratched you couldn’t get through one episode without it skipping — I can’t help but conclude that if I had to pick a show that would fall under that umbrella of exceptional, “Friday Night Lights” would hit high on the list.

However, as much as I loved the Texas-flavored series, I’m positive that I will hate the impending movie adaptation. The series is already based off the original “Friday Night Lights” movie starring Billy Bob Thornton, which was adapted from the novel by H.G. Bissinger. Is there really a need to squeeze another film out of the admittedly overworked concept? Of all the series that had a less-than-stellar ending warranting a final hurrah in film form, “Friday Night Lights” doesn’t even come close to making the list. The characters were moving forward in a way that would be difficult to jumble back together again. Why undermine the emotional perfection of the series finale?

Lately, it seems there has been a flux of TV series attempting to make the jump from the small screen to the silver screen. “Arrested Development” is rumored to be producing a movie adaptation, after the new episodes air on Netflix. “24” is also on the list of series that want to take the leap, along with “Party Down” — a relatively obscure Showtime series — and several others.

So why the rush to take something that worked so well in a television format and try to bundle it up in the wildly different arena of film? For one thing, there’s no long, drawn-out season to work with, only a continuous hour-and-a-half storyline that has to fully resolve all loose ends and end strong — strong enough to warrant this extra addition, to give a reason as to why the series needed to be continued, and ultimately, why the film needed to be made. Now that’s one tall order.

Not to mention that all the cast members must be assembled, even though many have inevitably gone on with their careers — in the case of “Friday Night Lights,” Connie Britton is tied up with a potential new series, Taylor Kitsch and Kyle Chandler are well on their way to movie-star status, and much of the rest of the cast is similarly preoccupied. And if you can’t get most, if not all, of the original actors, the movie is pretty much toast right out of the gate.

So, while I appreciate the beloved — and I would know — series, I wish Peter Berg would focus his attentions on developing a new series that might reach half the affluence of “Friday Night Lights” instead of trying to live in the glory of projects past.

The time has come to move on. But that doesn’t mean we won’t forever remember Dillon fondly. As always, “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.”