This summer, I'm looking back at the most recent seasons of some of my favorite shows and posing a few hypothetical questions about their future in this feature, Five Questions. Today's questions are for "Friday Night Lights," which will start its second season in the fall.
- What's happening to the Taylors? At the end of the first season, we still weren't sure whether Coach Taylor was staying with the Panthers or leaving for a college coaching job. I have to assume he'll end up back in Dillon somehow, but how will the show explain his decision? Will the show pick up right at the start of a new football season, or will we see him grappling with his choices in the off-season?
- Will anyone be watching? "Friday Night Lights" has quite the challenge ahead of it if it wants to pull in more viewers, which it almost certainly needs to do to make it through a full second season. It's hard enough just to convince people that this textured, complex show about small-town life and relationships is about more than just football. But getting people to tune in to a show at 10 p.m. on Fridays — otherwise known as TV's barren wasteland — will be even tougher, especially given that the show's core audience might well be spending that time at actual high school football games. Yes, NBC is showing some support with reruns this summer, and I'm sure I don't need to remind you that all the first-season episodes are online, but will it matter?
- What will happen with the baby? I was really not thrilled about the idea of Tami Taylor having a baby; after all, pregnancies have sunk many a good show, and I liked the Taylors just fine the way they were. Besides, I have a hard time thinking of baby-related plot lines that haven't been done a zillion times before. On the other hand, though, much of what "Friday Night Lights" does has been done before; this show just does it better. So maybe the baby will be the impetus for genius new story lines about love and family, not just a tired plot device. Here's hoping.
- Will the whole cast be back? Graduation is the bane of any high school show's existence. "Friday Night Lights" has been somewhat brilliant in not directly establishing many of the characters' ages, but I always assumed that at least a few of the main characters — Lyla, Tyra, Jason, Tim — were seniors, and presumably they'd be graduating before the next season starts. It's still unclear to me whether the show will be jumping right in at the start of football season or whether we'll see glimpses of the rest of the year, but in any case, I think the show would have to either get rid of some of these beloved characters or explain why they're still hanging around Dillon High School. Which brings me to my final question ...
- What will become of Jason Street? Jason started out as the focus of the show, but over the course of the first season, his stories started to feel more and more divorced from the rest of what was happening in Dillon. I think some of that was by design, and making Jason an assistant coach at the end of the season was a way of roping him back in. But I'm not sure how much I want him around anymore; Matt has taken over his role as the most sympathetic of the teens on the show, and I wouldn't be sad if I never saw another Jason/Lyla scene. Is there a way to keep Jason involved that won't take away from the rest of the show?
Three more, so