Promo shot of Friday Night Lights TV show cast

I’ll be very interested in seeing how the new NBC show Friday Night Lights (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. EDT) does in the ratings, as it is the most dramatic, thoughtful, and interesting new show I’ve seen thus far this season.

Kyle Chandler of NBC TV program Friday Night LightsBased on the popular movie of the same name, which itself was in turn based on a book of the same name, Friday Night Lights tells the story of a small Texas town’s high school football team as it makes a run for the state championship.

The predictable conflicts arise—injuries, fans’ unreasonably high expectations, the tough decisions both coaches and players have to make, the difficult choices in individuals’ personal lives, etc. The show, however, deals with these personal difficulties in a remarkably thoughtful, mature, and morally concerned way. The alcohol problem of the team’s fullback, for example, is not excused, but it is not simply condemned, either. There is a strong sense that the only way to get this young man on the right track will be to understand what is motivating this immensely talented individual to risk disaster when he could achieve so much.

The program realistically depicts the strangely hedonistic lifestyle that is so common among young people today, and it never gives in to the temptation either to endorse it or to moralize openly.

Kyle Chandler (Early Edition) is excellent as Coach Taylor, providing a strong and complex central character for the show, and Connie Britton (24) avoids the cliches of the genre in being neither blindly accepting nor too critical of her husband. Zach Gilford is excellent as backup quarterback Matt Saracen, and Jesse Plemons provides excellent comic relief as Saracen’s best friend.

Connie Britton of NBC TV program Friday Night LightsBoth Coach Taylor and wife Tami are noticeably Christian in their behavior toward others, especially in their willingness to turn the other cheek to other’s rude behavior. The patience with which starting quarterback Jason Street (Scott Porter) listens to the fatuous football advice of an elderly matron is impressive, familiar, and truly comic. Indeed, this is the most thoroughly Christian network program I’ve seen since Seventh Heaven. Not only do the characters pray openly and unabashedly, several of them exemplify Christian behavior, and those that do not do so stand out as personal failures—and candidates for redemption.

If you missed the first episode, or even if you saw it, you can watch it on line here. This is a program well worth supporting.