With "Keeping up Appearances," FNL struggles a bit, under the strain of both trying to set up next week's send-off of Jason (Scott Porter) and carrying together a theme of fatherhood. In turn, the series loses some of the momentum it gained from last week's remarkable turn ("It Ain't Easy Being J.D. McCoy"). That's not to say it wasn't an enjoyable hour of television, because while we somehow lost the Julie/Matt storyline this week (WTF?) there was still plenty to be enamored with -- like more Crucifictorious! (We'll get to that later).
The theme here was obviously fatherhood, and the different ways that fathers bridge the gap with their sons. On the football field, the fathers profiled couldn't be more different. Joe McCoy (D.W. Moffet), we've established, is the controlling "stage mom in jeans," a regular Marv Marinovich, who probably even presides over young J.D.'s bowel movements. And if it isn't obvious enough that he's this season's villain, who do we hear singing during the McCoy hosted dinner with the Taylors? Why that's none other than Chris Mulkey (singing "Blue Highway"*) who played one of last season's villains (Coach Taylor's replacement).
*Keep your day job, Chris!
Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, we meet the father of fullback Jamarcus, who didn't even know his son plays football. Coach Taylor serves as a second father to both JaMarcus and J.D., filling in the blanks at both ends for the over- and under-parenting. Meanwhile Buddy's kids are back in town, and the distance between he and his Californicated kids is felt immediately. There's a bit of Texas versus California nonsense here, and knowing that we likely won't see these kids again makes this part of the story kind of annoying, but it fits well in the theme, especially paired with the straits that Jason faces.
The strings through this episode arc are obviously pulling Jason out of Dillon, as we know the character is being written out, and an episode like this is tough to judge knowing 80% of it is set-up for next week's send-off. Like Buddy, Jason's lady has taken his offspring far away, but unlike Buddy, Jason actually has a shot at putting the family together. The house flip storyline, while a weak plot device in and of itself, served well in showing how far Jason will go to provide for his son.
The resolution to all the father's problems unfortunately arrives in a contrived fashion, a sort of Friday night version of dues ex machina, where going to a game ultimately solves everything. Joe realizes he's over-parenting, Jamarcus' parents are inspired by their son on the field, and Buddy's family comes together to root on the team. Even Jason gets a little closer to home, by the convenient meeting of a sports agent, who plants a seed that there's a future there for him if he wants it. If Josh Schwartz had written it, someone would have to chime in with "It's a Father's day miracle!"
And yes, there was more Crucifictorious this week, as they performed the Flaming Lips song "She Don't Use Jelly," which is now officially a teen drama classic. Why that song, you say? Well, just look at one of the major sponsors of this fine program (Vaseline) and you'll see it's just another clever product placement for NBC ("She uses, Vaaaaseline ...").
1. While there was no Julie for Coach and Mrs. Coach to show off their parenting skills on, both were parenting like crazy throughout. Whether it was the sit-down with Jamarcus' parents, or Tami's touching guidance to Landry. Even when they're not parents, they're still parenting.
2. I'm not sure what to think of Devin (Stephanie Hunter) yet. It kind of feels like we're getting some characters introduced just in case FNL gets a (deserved) renewal.
Playlist: Friday Night Lights - Episode 3.07
1. "Blue Highway" - Chris Mulkey (video) - Coach and Mrs. Coach dinner at the McCoys
2. "She Don't Use Jelly" - The Flaming Lips - Devin tries to cheer up Landry, reprised during band practice
3. "The Gospel Song" - Colourmusic - football practice
4 "Let U Know" - Plastilina Mosh - second half of the game
Previously: Make Some Memories (Episode 3.06)