Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Extra-Shiny: Friday Night Lights, or, Adventures with RSS

Using Google Reader's search function is like having a robot finish your sentences. Or like having a backup of your brain, except the backup is even smarter than you are. Since I funnel almost all activities that could be described as "poking around on the internet" through Reader these days, I'll often hit the search button there, first, when I'm looking for something I read and vaguely remember. If I read it, see, chances are it's in there somewhere.

This is the approach I tried when I was hunting down this great article on NBC's even greater TV show, Friday Night Lights. Since this article was in fact what spurred me to start watching Friday Night Lights on DVD over the past few days, I wanted to pay it a little visit, you know, offer it my gratitude, maybe write a post in its honor. But when I hit that search button, something interesting happened. Instead of the New York Times article in question, I stumbled upon these two from MIT's C3 blog, both written by the ever-sharp Sam Ford. What was so interesting about this? Well. I'd never seen the articles before; must have skimmed past them last fall, when Friday Night Lights wasn't immediately relevant to me. But when I rediscovered them, I realized that I'd just effectively performed a search on my peripheral sphere of knowledge. Sam Ford's articles—respectively, about the perils of audience commitment and the show's product placement of Applebee's—were exactly what my better self would have wanted me to read on the topic. In fact, my better self DID want me to read those very articles; that's why I subscribed to the C3 blog and others like it in the first place, since I knew the knowledge they were producing contained ideas I wanted to hear. Searching Reader was like having a very smart, very on-top-of-things me grin mischievously, while not-on-top-of-things me rummaged crazily through digital heaps of information, and say, "You were looking for these?," while handing me carefully-clipped articles.

Robot, backup brain, doppelganger; Google Reader's search function is a lot of things today, I guess. But only because it's one thing above all, and that's: great.

Anyway. I highly recommend reading all three articles, but mostly I just recommend getting yourself a copy of Friday Night Light's first season, and proceeding to watch all 22 episodes in quick succession. This is not just television. It's real life, transposed onto the screen. Fans and critics agree; audience sizes don't. If the New York Times is right, Friday Night Lights is a show either before or after its time, a microcosm so perfect that nobody—not even fans—wants to mess with it. Maybe this doesn't lead to action figures, troll-infested message boards, or any of the other fun add-ons that make serialized television shows profitable and buzz-worthy. So I'm just going to throw in whatever buzz I can muster, and tell you: Friday Night Lights is eminently worthwhile. I love it. You will, too.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Wonderful taste (as usual!)... I'm absolutely in love with the first season of FNL and have been evangelizing it like crazy (IRL) to my family/friends etc.

Your Google Reader experience feels to me sort of like when you recall a conversation that happened a few years ago + just went over your head (someone referenced a movie you'd never seen, or something like that), and then only years later do you actually get it. Or maybe that's a stretch :-P

What do you think of FNL season 2? I'm sort of afraid to watch it. (I do highly recommend the book that started it all, as well as the movie).