Library patrons’ holds placed on the movie “Friday Night Lights” suggest the wrap-up of the television series interested a lot of people in the movie based on the book of the same name.
Season Five, the final season of the television series, is already in the parish library on DVD. That’s because the series started on NBC, finished on DirecTV and, then, went back to NBC where it finished a second time.
The critically acclaimed television series never drew what television considers large audiences. Story lines and acting vary in quality from episode to episode, but the action on the field and the relationships between coach Eric Taylor and his players and the coach and his wife hold the series together.
The series follows a championship West Texas high school football team through its highs and lows, the tough economic times of the town, racism, abortion, drugs and a public school on the wrong side of the tracks struggling with budget cuts.
In short, it’s the story of our times wherever we happen to be in America.
H.G. Bissinger’s 1990 non-fiction book tells the story of the 1988 Permian Panthers, a high school football team around which much of the life of Odessa, Texas, revolved in the 1980s.
The book became a 2004 movie starring Billy Bob Thornton directed by Peter Berg, Bissinger’s second cousin.
Berg adapted the story to a five-season television series which ended three weeks ago on NBC.
I was hooked on the series the first time I saw the field lights of the football stadium against the lavender sky of West Texas at sundown.
My family and I crossed Texas five times in the 1980s on camping trips to Colorado and New Mexico.
That meant a two-day drive across Texas over highways through small cities and towns. Sometimes, you got glimpses of downtowns past their prime, feed lots, soulless shopping centers and, often, a high school football stadium on the edge of town.
Handmade signs on fences pointed the way to the big game that Friday night under lights towering over the football fields.
You knew the weeks during the fall, especially in the vastness of West Texas, pointed to those Friday night lights.
That’s the premise of Bissinger’s book. Bissinger, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for investigative reporting on corruption in the Philadelphia court system, moved his family to Odessa to follow the Permian Panthers through a season.
The cities of Midland and Odessa have been headquarters for oil and gas production in West Texas’ boom and bust oil economy for decades.
“Friday Night Lights” celebrates football not the Odessa Symphony. Odessa is a city of almost 100,000 people.
Bissinger’s book was not well-received by football boosters in Odessa. He cancelled book signings after bookstores received telephone threats against him.
Now, there’s talk of ANOTHER “Friday Night Lights” movie. This story, as good as it is, has been told.