Monday, November 13, 2006

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts

When I think about kinship that I have encountered in the blogosphere, one of the first that comes to mind is that which I feel with the Ramblings of a Lexington Parrothead. This site's blogmeister, Beach Bum, and I share a common fate: our mates are not bloggers but TeeVee heads; while we surf the Net, they are channel surfing.

Thinking of Kinship, I also think of Pekka, who has taken my back in these pages as well as on other sites; but because of the topic I've chosen today, I may alienate him somewhat - he is sudden death on spectator sports.

Thinking further of kinship, I think of Lil'Bill who has persevered against overwhelming odds to get me to watch one political program or another on TV: Bill does not accept my protestations, that if I ever watch TV, it would be to escape politics, not to roil further in its dirty swamps than I already do on the Internet.

The closest I came to TV in previous years was when I would sometimes sleepily indulge a hour of West Wing. The only
current exceptions have been brief midnight segments of C-SPAN while I'm maintaining a vigil with my prowling Dobbie, RedOct.

But the unexpected has happened: I have discovered a TV home during which I can actually share the couch in 'the dark room' with Trophy Wife and not fall asleep. Together we have discovered a veritable trifecta of escapist TV!

Friday Night Lights is it: an electrifying and riveting hour show centering around the fictional small Texas town of Dillon and its Panther High School football team. This show has a perfectly cast cast which keeps the ball rolling in small town romances, feuds, scandals, crimes, betrayals, fights and - yes - politics. 'Lights' raises innumerable troubling questions about life in small towns, big high schools and their obsessions with scholastic sports. At the same time it refrains from supplying easy answers.

The politics is subliminal. Not exactly surprising because football is the moral equivalent of war. The Washington Post's Tom Shales describes 'Lights' as
the "Platoon" of high school football -- the story of the embattled infantry as well as of the officers in the field, reverberant with metaphorical and microcosmic echoes.
One of the most poignant of many poignant subplots has to do with the season's starting quarterback sustaining a career ending spinal cord injury - forcing the Dillon community to deal with problems not far from the issues with which our contemporary America will have to deal. Head Coach Taylor wrestles with the community's political forces as he tries to steer his team through the treacherous and morally ambiguous turf to victory each Friday. He is not always successful, and his hands are not always spiffy-clean. If we are not, his team is certainly oblivious to his inner conflicts, self-doubts and private demons. When civic life stops still midday Friday, Dillon's denizens only hear Coach's motivating cry "Clear eyes, full hearts". I feel it's an exonerating escape from our real world.

So, My wife and I TiVO the Dillon Panthers on Tuesday nights so we can watch it Friday nights! My next door neighbor claims Friday Night Lights is a hyperbolically inaccurate portrayal of high school sports.

Because he's an authority, I just say I watch it because it's really about politics.