TV

TV REVIEW: 10 good reasons to watch 'Friday Night Lights'

Oh, turn the "Lights" on, already.

NBC is offering up a superb series in "Friday Night Lights," but viewers have made it the most underappreciated show of the season for no good reason.

What's that, you say? You need cold hard facts before you'll watch "Lights" (8 p.m. EST Wednesdays)?

Well, these may not be cold or factual, but here are 10 good reasons to watch "Lights":

- It accurately paints small-town life. Life in Dillon, Texas, revolves around the local high-school football team. It's as central to "Lights" as oil was to "Dallas." But what is at stake is much more valuable than crude. It's the heart and soul of small-town pride.

- The coach. Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler, in his best role to date) is this decade's Andy Taylor - a forthright leader, a man of simple values and definite direction. He's the ideal coach and mentor. And while I'm on the subject of Coach Taylor ...

- Finally, a TV marriage that rings true. Many of the families are single-parent situations, but the Taylors are a solid couple who communicate and respect each other.

- Kids appearing real. Up until "Lights" this season, only the cool kids lived in cool places - like Orange County, Calif., or New York City. And those kids were beautiful, unblemished and wore cool clothes.

Suddenly, "Lights" gives us a realistic look at teens in middle America. They wear baggy pants and T-shirts, listen to their iPods and chat on the Internet. They want to look like they are from the 'hood, but they're really just cowpokes in trendy clothes, probably purchased at Wal-Mart or Target because those are the only places these kids can shop.

- The cheerleaders. Finally, here's a prime-time show in which lusting after beautiful teenage cheerleaders isn't a crime. These actresses are well beyond high-school age. So it's OK to look and appreciate, appropriately.

- Respect for faith. Star football player Smash Williams (Gaius Charles) has had his share of problems - illegally using steroids, for one - but he's always clinging to his faith for help. When a fellow student is thinking about having sex for the first time, Smash advises him against it. Why? Smash's spiritual values tell him otherwise. That's rare in today's TV and very refreshing.

- The hair. Hello? I'd kill for hair like Tim Riggins' (Taylor Kitsch).

- The issues. The show has tackled everything from racial tension in a small town to teen sex, showing both sides of delicate issues and offering few easy answers. All the while, the writing maintains a quaint wholesomeness without compromising the situations.

- It's not about football. Fortunately, the game is not the thing with this show. Heck, you don't even need to know the game to get interested. All you have to know is what is at stake.

- The people don't talk funny. At last we have a prime-time show where folks don't have strange accents! Yes, I'm talking about you, Seinfeld.

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