Should There Really Be a 'Friday Night Lights' Movie?
Potentially exciting news comes today that Jason Katims, a longtime writer on NBC's great yet often overlooked drama Friday Night Lights, has nearly finished his script for a movie based on the series.
Potentially exciting news comes today that Jason Katims, a longtime writer on NBC's great yet often overlooked drama Friday Night Lights, has nearly finished his script for a movie based on the series. Show creator and likely director of the film Peter Berg has said as much anyway, while hinting at the film's plot:
"[Katims] has come up with a really great storyline that parallels what happened to Mike Leach, one of my heroes, a coach at Texas Tech who was unjustly fired and unjustly accused of mistreating a player with a concussion, which was proven to not have been the case. He's now at Washington State getting ready for what I think will be a great redemption story," Berg explained. "It would be critical that we get Kyle [Chandler] and Connie [Britton] [onboard for the film] — we anchored the show around them — and then bring in Riggins, Tyra, Lyla and all other characters as we could get them. But the idea is to really revolve it around the coach."
So that could be nice! To see all our old friends again, whether just in cameo form or not. We've missed them since they flickered off the air last year, and though Connie Britton has gone on to be tortured in a ghost-murder house, Kyle Chandler is off being handsome and rumpled somewhere, and all the kids are busy starring in movies of varying degrees of loudness, we'd have to imagine that they too would like to return to Dillon, TX one last time too. Hm, or would they? Rippling dreamhunk Taylor Kitsch, who played tortured dreamhunk Tim Riggins on the show but has now changed his name to John Carter and moved to Mars or something, says of the project: "I loved the way I left Riggs. You never know. Maybe a little cameo or something." That doesn't sound that enthusiastic, does it?
It almost sounds like the initial reluctance that Kitsch's fellow Canadian Michael Cera (decidedly non-rippling) had toward making an Arrested Development movie. That equally beloved and equally often overlooked series had the same kind of rabid fanbase, one whose hopes were held aloft by the vague promise of a movie, a continuation, something more. But Cera resisted, presumably because he didn't see the value in returning to and possibly sullying what was such a well-liked product. (Of course, now the entire cast is back doing new episodes for Netflix, but that's sorta different?) Maybe we could all learn something from Kitsch and Cera's instincts. Yes, it would be great to see all of Dillon reunited again, but is that really what we want?
Isn't it perhaps better to let these sleeping dogs lie? Really I've never never understood the desire for a movie based on a TV series — they're such different media, film and television, that it seems strange that anyone would actually ever think the translation would work. There are a few examples of a good crossover — Mission: Impossible, The Brady Bunch Movie (though that's a parody) — but recent film history is positively littered with TV-to-movie adaptations that proved creative flops. (Ahem, Sex and the City.) What stories are contained within a successive series of half-hour or hour installments seem both constrained and stretched out on film. It's just one two-hour lump without all the development of a television season, and yet everyone's also straining to seem expansive in a different way, to fill the big screen expectations. Things become exaggerated and overplayed (which FNL only very rarely ever was), and because movies sorta demand that there be one main story (rather than the many threads of a TV show), usually an effort is made to make that a Big Story. (Or a Mr. Big story, ahem ahem, Sex and the City.) Why would we want something we love to do that? Peter Berg and Jason Katims are probably a little more trustworthy than that, especially considering there's already been a Friday Night Lights movie, albeit not one about these characters, but still the potential for something unsatisfying and uncomfortable is big.
Too big, really, to risk it. Yes Friday Night Lights for all its wonder and wisdom and wistfulness deserved a bigger or more prominent stage, but sadly its opportunity has passed. And while we're confident that Katims will write a good, or at least better than most, script, there are just too many other factors that could muddle this thing. Yes, we think it's ultimately best not to disturb the dead in this case. To let them, y'know, rest in peace while we soldier on with their memory in our hearts. Sad, but true.
Unless, of course, Kitsch and costar Zach Gilford (Matt Saracennnnn!) sign on for full-size roles in the movie, in which case absolutely it's a go, you're greenlit, cut print it's a wrap.