Having faith in The Office and FNL

My favorite comedy (The Office) and the only drama I watch (Friday Night Lights) have been accused of getting ridiculous this season.

The Office has seen Michael drive into a lake and hold a pizza delivery guy against his will.
FNL has a moderately reasonable ongoing story with Tami raising a baby solo while Eric is assistant waterboy, er, coach for a college team, followed by an utterly preposterous storyline in which Landry conks Tyra’s stalker in the head (OK), killing him (pushing it) with his back turned (really pushing it) and dumping the body (that’s enough).

The question you have to ask: Do you trust the show to resolve the story to your satisfaction?

With The Office, it’s an unqualified yes. Michael’s outlandishness drives the show to unpredictable fun. The Pam/Jim saga also has been unpredictable without testing our patience over three years.

Friday Night Lights earned that faith last season. When Riggins and Lyla became more than drunkard and best friend’s girl, we all cringed a little. But the show handled it well, the first evidence that it could push us out of our comfort zone a little but still retain some grounding in reality. Nothing felt forced. Nothing seemed cliche, aside from the Dillon Panthers’ eight or nine ridiculous comebacks.

This season, we can’t be so sure. How many “notes” have NBC execs dropped on the crew? How much pressure do the creators feel to push the dramatic envelope? (“Up next on a very special ER, a nuclear bomb destroys Chicago, leaving Abby and Morris to repopulate the city …”)

My pet conspiracy theory: The FNL powers that be aren’t really developing stories in these first few episodes. They’re taking revenge on the Emmy voters who inexplicably snubbed the show. If you don’t think Connie Britton, Jesse Plemons and Adrienne Palicki deserved nominations, the theory goes, see how they singlehandedly salvage these ridiculous situations.

Makes about as much sense as anything else.

Last week’s FNL, for what it’s worth, had some promising scenes.


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