Tuned In

The Morning After: John from Cincinnati Milwaukee

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Hello! Good to be back! Thanks for not trashing the place while I was gone. And I hope Robo-James didn’t launch into any binary solos or attempt to exterminate you while I was away.

I’ve been surprised how little I’ve been bothered by the Tyra/Landry/murder plot fallout in the last few episodes of Friday Night Lights. As jarring a development as it was, it’s worth remembering that—despite our time-burnished memories of season 1–FNL is not a documentary; it’s always been willing to go into heightened-drama mode to drive its stories. (As most of the best teen/young-adult dramas always have, like My So-Called Life and Felicity, one of the few exceptions possibly being Freaks and Geeks.) I was reminded of that this week, with the return of Riggins’ cougar former love interest from last season.

Alan Sepinwall questioned why FNL was going to the May-December well so often–with Saracen also laying a smooch on his grandma’s home health aide–but I was happy nonetheless to see Austin Nichols (John from Cincinnati) appear as Julie’s new journalism teacher. It would be nice, though, if their relationship didn’t go the predictable Don’t Stand So Close to Me route, and maybe it won’t. This may have been an entirely unintentional allusion, but it was interesting to see Coach Taylor, on the one hand, complaining that Julie’s Pantherama story wasn’t “fair and balanced,” and Julie’s teacher, on the other, offering her a copy of the New York Times as an example of great writing.

It’d be more interesting, in other words, if he were not a potential Humbert Humbert, but a competing formative influence on Julie–with his outsider pedigrees from Columbia and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel–and if the conflict were not about Julie’s body but her mind. I don’t know, though; do you think Eric’s really a Fox News fan? Seems more like an ESPN guy to me.