‘Lights’ finds epic grandeur in small-town football

Friday Night Lights
Friday, 7 p.m. (NBC)

In the midst of its final season, “Friday Night Lights” remains one of the best shows on TV. This week, things look grim for our small-town Texas football team after a loss jeopardizes their spot in the playoffs. The problem is egocentric quarterback Vince (Michael B. Jordan), who’s sowing dissension. Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) must find a way to bring the team together before the promising season slips away. “I’m not going to let that happen,” he says, in one of his patented pep talks on the school field. “You’re not going to let that happen. You’ve all spilled too much sweat and blood on this damn piece of dirt out here to allow it.”

Coach Taylor has a knack for lifting everybody’s spirits — including the viewer’s — but your stomach sinks when he insists on benching Vince and subbing in the inferior quarterback Luke for the big game. Even Luke knows it’s a bad idea. “I don’t think I can do it,” he says after a rotten performance in practice.

As if that weren’t enough to worry about, Principal Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) sees her relationship with a troubled student spiral into disaster, and Julie (Aimee Teegarden) has a tense reunion with Matt (Zach Gilford).

That’s an awful lot of drama for one damn piece of dirt.

Guys Choice
Friday, 8 p.m. (Spike)

It’s an awards show devoted
to guys and their interests, as you can tell by the categories. “The
Holy Grail of Hot” features nominees Minka Kelly and Mila Kunis.
“Unstoppable Jock” pits Aaron Rodgers against Kobe Bryant. And “Best
Girl on Girl Scene” honors … Minka Kelly and Mila Kunis. Yes, again.
Obviously, the Guys Choice has a bit of an obsession.

The ceremony should be
enjoyable enough, but I must register one objection. There’s an ironic
category called “Outstanding Literary Achievement” that’s meant to sneer
at a stupid celebrity book. This year’s nominees are Snooki Polizzi’s
“A Shore Thing” and Keith Richards’ “Life” — even though Richards’ memoir truly was an outstanding literary achievement, dazzling critics and yours truly.

Clearly, the nominating committee was too busy drooling over Minka and Mila to spend much time reading.

Tony Awards
Sunday, 7 p.m. (CBS)

I’ve always admired
“South Park”’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker for their commitment to bad
taste, albeit bad taste redeemed by comic genius. These guys are
dedicated to pee and puke, respectability be damned.

But what do we have here?
Stone and Parker’s Broadway show, “The Book of Mormon,” has been
nominated for 14 Tony awards, including Best Musical. That’s more
nominations than any  other production.

A
big win at the glittering primetime Tony ceremony would bring, gulp,
respectability. If Stone and Parker don’t pee or puke when accepting
their awards, I will be deeply disillusioned.

The Real Story

Sunday, 7 p.m. (Smithsonian Channel)

This
enjoyable documentary interviews paleontologists about the scientific
accuracy of “Jurassic Park.” Believe it or not, the scientists argue
that a dinosaur really could be re-created from DNA preserved in amber;
it’s just that no one has found the right hunk of amber yet. “I think
(it) will become a reality one day,” said Princeton professor Lee
Silver.

That’s a fun idea — until
you learn that it’s more than just an idea. Some eminent scientists are
trying to bring dinosaurs back to life
right now, when you and I are around to run screaming from their
murderous rampages. Dr. Hans Larsson of McGill University, for one, is
manipulating chicken embryos to bring out the animal’s latent dinosaur
features.

Obviously,
none of these scientists bothered to watch the end of “Jurassic Park,”
when all hell broke loose. Somebody had better screen it for them, and
fast, before we all get pecked to death by a 20-foot escapee from a KFC.

Memphis Beat

Tuesday, 8 p.m. (TNT)

This
police drama doesn’t offer much in the way of originality. In the
season premiere, Memphis cop Dwight (Jason Lee) investigates the death
of a fellow officer — a mystery with all the usual twists and turns. We
get the tense interrogations, the parade of suspects, the bomb exploding
at the halfway mark, and the model-caliber female cop for Dwight to
bicker with.

The way “Memphis Beat”
tries to distinguish itself is with Memphisspecific texture. The episode
is thick with Elvis references, blues guitar licks and Otis Redding on
the soundtrack. Can the series really hook viewers with such superficial
elements?

Well, it hooked one viewer, at least.

I’d watch even the latest Paris Hilton reality series if it had Otis Redding on the soundtrack.

Dean Robbins

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