By: Kevin Kelly, Special TCA Correspondent
Experimentation. It’s the buzz word of this year’s Television Critics Press Tour.
Will SCRUBS jumping ship from NBC to ABC pay off? Will the CW really shake things up by shifting the start of their Fall season to mid-summer next season? And will satellite provider DirecTV’s gamble to pick up the critically acclaimed yet ratings anemic football series [that's not really about football!] be hailed as a brilliant programming move or, a grand experiment that was ahead of its time?
Place your bets. Because the only thing we know for sure is what one audience member inappropriately [yet accurately!] yelled out at this morning’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS TCA Panel. “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS will quickly become the most downloaded show on television!” Which in case you’re wondering, star Zach Gilford full endorses, stating, “Well, if you’re a loyal fan I say you download it, and then out of good conscience just switch on NBC when it comes on the air.”
So what else did we learn. Well, Jason Street (Scott Porter) and Smash Williams (Gauis Charles) will be doing four-episode story arcs this season and aren’t signed on as series regulars. Which according to executive producer Jason Katims makes sense because they’ve both graduated from school on the show and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS has always strived to be “as realistic and true to real life” as possible. [With the notable exception of Tyra and Landry's ridiculous murder story-line! But let's not get too nit-picky here]
Kyle Chandler remarked how difficult it was going up against “that singing show,” and then the rest of the cast chimed in with “and that dancing show!” from last season. He also said that all of the fan support and the loyal watchers have been “very special to us.” So keep those blog posts and fan letters coming. He promises that there will be some “great material” coming with the departure of Gauis and Scott departing the show, and that he “anticipates a lot of problems” for Coach Taylor to deal with. Especially in that quarterback position.
Jesse Plemons hopes that Landry Clarke is “done with his criminal days, but wants to see that it’s still with him. I hope he doesn’t kill anyone else!” Likewise, Minka Kelly’s Lyla Garrity character is so over her “born again” phase this season, and that’ll affect her relationship with Taylor Kitsch’s character, to which he drawled “I hadn’t even heard about that.” Kitsch also took time to dogpile praise all over Kyle Chandler, who he called “the backbone of the show.”
What’s interesting is that DirecTV will be airing “specially produced episodes” before they head over to NBC, which could result in longer episodes, deleted scenes being shown, and original content that you can’t get on the network. I wonder how many people will be switching over in order to get there FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS fix.
Strangest question of the panel: Someone asked Eric Shanks, Executive VP of Entertainment for DirecTV if he planned to pick up MOONLIGHT, and he said “Well, my understanding is that the sets have been struck and that it’s finished. So that’s a no… for now. I just don’t think the opportunity is there