Midway through the first episode of the second season, when Gracie Taylor was born and Wilco's "Muzzle of Bees" provided the backing track, Eric and Tami exchanged a look and I thought "Well that pretty much seals it. This is the greatest show ever. Never in my life did I think I'd hear "Muzzle of Bees" on network television." And of course, by the end of the episode, after Landry and Tyra decided to throw the attempted rapist's dead body in the river, I felt completely betrayed, like someone had stolen the last 10 pages of an FNL script and swapped them with an episode of Law and Order.
Where the second season really went astray, though, was that it drifted too far away from the football field. The first season had its share of storylines that, in retrospect, stretched the bounds of believability -- I think the Panthers won their last seven games on last-second plays, and Tim's Mrs. Robinson dalliance with the hot neighbor was a bit much -- but the fact that the universe was always grounded in the week-to-week doings of the football team gave it a specific focus. The second season lacked that, starting with the fact that we were supposed to buy into the fact that Tim Riggins was BFFs with the star quarterback, even though it turns out he was a sophomore. (Didn't Jason Street have any friends his own age? Cripes, no wonder Buddy was mad when Lyla and Jason said they were getting engaged. Turns out she was like 15.) By the time they put the silly murder storyline to bed, got Coach Taylor back in Dillon and started to focus on football again, the writer's strike doomed the entire thing. The low point, I think, was the episode where Tim saved Julie from a tornado.
It's funny you mention that Minka Kelly is so hot, her presence seems justifiable even to your wife because my wife doesn't seem to mind my running commentary on Lyla's hotness as long as she can continue to swoon over Taylor Kistch's portrayal of Tim Riggins. It used to be I didn't think he was much of an actor, but he's really grown on me. His final scene when he tearfully told Street he hoped he would get everything he wanted in life, and then watched his quarterback convince his baby momma to give them a shot was probably my favorite moment in Season 3 that didn't involve Smash.
What would make me stick around for Season 4? I'm probably in the minority, but I'd like to see the show shift its focus to a whole new group of Dillon kids. I'd love to see Riggins and Saracen go to college, Lyla leave for Vanderbilt, and Tyra start working shifts at the Landing Strip. (Or whatever fate awaits her.) The writing on this show is so good that I could easily see myself getting invested in another group of football players. JD McCoy is a decent start -- the dynamic between athletic prodigy and crazy father could make for a two-season arch -- but I want to get to know an offensive lineman or a linebacker on next year's Panther squad and follow his story. I want to see a Terrell Owens-esque receiver in a hot tub full of Rally Girls. (By the way, can we get another powder puff football game? Thanks.) As long as the show remains anchored by Eric and Tami Taylor, and even Buddy Garrity, I think it can succeed. I think if Riggins hung around Dillon to drink beer and Saracen became an assistant coach, it would mirror where so many teen dramas go wrong. They hang on to characters for too long instead of trying to reinvent and in this case, have the team, and the high school, remain the focus of the show.
I wonder what Slamming Sammy Meade thinks of all this,