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13 December 2006 @ 07:01 pm
Casting on 'Friday Night Lights'  
I just wanted to get some thoughts out about the casting of Friday Night Lights that have been percolating around my noggin for awhile. I think this is an excellent show and I do enjoy watching it. However, I'm also frustrated when watching because I'm quite astonished at how magnificent some of their casting is ... and how horrific some other casting is (there are in betweens like on any show, but I've never seen the high and low concentrated in more than just one or two performers elsewhere as it is on this show).

The Great:

  • Kyle Chandler as Coach Taylor -- Of course I know who Chandler is, I've watched him throughout the years here and there. Still, I've never been particularly impressed or drawn to him as an actor (although I did think he stood out in the Grey's Anatomy's SuperBowl episode), but here on FNL, I frickin' love him. His Coach Taylor is just awesome. He's funny, he's sincere, honest, gruff, likable and just so very real. I don't ever not enjoy even one moment when he's on screen. There is an effortless beauty to everything he brings to every moment of this role. This is the kind of performance that so rarely is, but should so often be, rewarded with accolades and awards left and right. To be this damn good without the flash and razzle-dazzle is impressive and I can't imagine anyone else I would prefer in this role. Wonderful casting, they couldn't have done better.

  • Connie Britton As Tami Taylor -- Mostly I know her from the first half or so of last season of 24 and she was good, but she didn't do anything for me. Here? Again, like Chandler, I couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. I love her, I love her interaction with the Coach, with Julie, with the faculty and the students. I love how she is again, like Chandler's Coach Taylor, so very real. She's warm and funny, sweet and saucy and I just, again like Chandler, adore every moment she's on screen.

  • Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen -- As much as I adore Riggins (more on him later), I actually think that Gilford's Matt is the best "teen" casting. His stumbling, sweet, stalwart Matt just makes my heart go pitter-pat. And Gilford's charm and charisma, not to mention his natural talent, show why it's not just the bad boys who can be heartbreakers. He is so adorable, so real, so honest and wonderful, he breaks my heart every time he gets hit with another knockout, either from his dad's absence, his grandma or the Coach. Like the previous two, I never don't enjoy a moment on screen with him; I like him, I really, really just like him.

  • Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins -- Pretty-boy former model or not, Kitsch brings it home as the tortured, fucked-up woobie-supreme of the show. And he does it all while so effortlessly bringing the very, very pretty. There are other actors on the show who are good-looking, but Kitsch is really, really, really good-looking ... and yet he doesn't rest his performance on those genes. Instead we see the heart and the soul behind that very pretty façade. I care about Tim; I want him to stop fucking up, I want him to fix his friendship with Jason and find a girl who cares about him; one who he can be obsessed with and fucked up over who isn't frickin' Lyla Garrity (more on her later). I want him to find his way because Kitsch has found humanity in the pretty, tortured cliché.

    The In-Betweens

    The following actors (in alphabetical order) are all good, solid performers who work in their roles, they just don't stand out outrageously like the above four do for me. They DO stand out among the other actors who aren't in the above or below categories, however. (Especially Brad Leland.)

  • Jesse Plemons as Landry Clarke
  • Scott Porter as Jason Street
  • Aimee Teegarden as Julie Taylor
  • Derek Phillips as Billy Riggins
  • Brad Leland as Buddy Garrity

    The Not So Great

  • Adrianne Palicki as Tyra Collette -- Unlike the other female on this list, Palicki is not a bad actress. She's good (not great) but she's just wrong, wrong casting for this role. I know that casting agents often cast actors in their 20's as teenagers and generally it's because they pass enough that viewers can easily suspend their disbelief. That doesn't work here for Palicki. The actress is 23, however, unlike most actors cast at that age who look younger, she actually looks older. I honestly was surprised to find out that she wasn't at least in her mid-twenties. I just don't buy her as a teenager AT ALL. And it certainly didn't help when they had a few episodes featuring her with older characters ... because it made it that much more obvious what age she was. And then there's the fact that I imagine I'm supposed to feel some sympathy for Tyra, but I don't. She comes across as a smug, selfish bitch and I know the vulnerability is "there," but I see it only because of the script and direction, not through her performance. Not a bad actress, just a very bad fit for this role and unable to bring to the forefront the complexity of the character.

  • Gauis Charles as Brian "Smash" Williams -- Same goes here. Charles is not a bad actor, he just so does NOT work as Smash for me at all. It was different when I thought he was going to be like Matt's friend Landry, someone who we saw often, but didn't have a major storyline. I thought the role we saw him in before this whole high-profile turn in the last three or four episodes was fine for Charles and I had no problem, but now? I don't like his Smash. He is probably a lovely young fellow, but he doesn't have the vulnerability or charisma to make me feel sympathy for him. With every passing episode, I grow to dislike Smash more and more and more. I don't feel sorry for him and I don't want him to get better; I want him off of my screen. Like Adrianne Palicki, Gaius Charles is not a bad actor, just a very bad fit for this role.

  • Minka Kelly as Lyla Garrity -- Finally, the true horror in the horrific. Minka Kelly? IS a bad actress. Playing the sweet, loving girlfriend she was okay, but once she had to actually emote ... good Lord! Not good. At all. She's fake and false and obviously "acting" in every moment -- which is such a contrast to the "real" we get so many others. I'm sorry, but I don't care how many close-ups of a tear shimmering on her eyelash they give me, she's not a good actress. And if they are building up to some star-crossed lovers thing with Riggins ... it's not working for me at all. She at least has some chemistry with Porter's Jason, but she has none with Kitsch's Riggins. And their storyline is the kind that normally gets the fangirls going and it's doing nothing for me (definitely a fangirl) and I sure haven't heard much gushing elsewhere. I think that's because Kelly and Kitsch don't have any chemistry. And it doesn't help that her limited acting skills make me feel no sympathy for Lyla. And I should be! Especially after the last episode, but gah, she's just so flat and one-note and just bad. Very, very bad.

    It truly does boggle my mind that the casting of this show could have hit the bulls-eye with four of their actors and come close enough with a few others, but completely miss the shot in not one or two, but three other cases. Tyra is one thing, she's not a huge character, but Lyla is and her off-casting is just not good for the show at all, and with Smash's growing storyline the lack of sympathy that Charles is generating is hurting that aspect of FNL as well. This is a great show, but they really fumbled the ball in some of their casting choices. Because of the above three (especially Minka Kelly and Gaius Charles), Friday Night Lights is not one of my MUSTWATCHNOWSHOWS!, and sadly, I do think it would be were the casting not so wrong in these cases. It's a shame.
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    sowell: Hee! by twt for imaginariumsowell on December 14th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)
    I agree with you on every single point except for one: Tyra. I actually think the girl who plays her is quite good in the role. She does look too old, but I haven't had problems buying her as a fucked up teenager.

    But WORD on the lack of chemistry between Lyla and Tim. Although I'm really starting to love this show, I'm honestly not rooting for those two At All.
    Arabian: Peace_VMarabian on December 14th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC)
    I agree with you on every single point except for one: Tyra. I actually think the girl who plays her is quite good in the role. She does look too old, but I haven't had problems buying her as a fucked up teenager.

    Of all of them, I could see people disagreeing with my thoughts on Tyra the most. Like I said she is good, but the role is a cliche and I don't think she surpasses the cliche. (And it doesn't help that she and Kitsch don't have chemistry either. The recent storeroom sex did nothing for me, no heat whatsoever.) The big thing is the age though -- she just looks so much older than the other "teenagers," it makes it damn near impossible to suspend disbelief.

    But WORD on the lack of chemistry between Lyla and Tim. Although I'm really starting to love this show, I'm honestly not rooting for those two At All.

    AT ALL!! There is NOTHING between them. They may even have a higher anti-chemistry percentage than KB and TD (and that's impressive!); they don't work and Minka is so very bad, which might not be so obvious if most she worked with weren't so much better.