'Friday Night Lights': Exec producer Jason Katims teases season 4

friday-night-lights_lAre you ready for some football? No, not Monday Night Football—we’re talking Friday Night Lights! Given that season 4 kicks off just one week from tonight (Oct. 28 at 9 p.m. on DIRECTV; NBC will air these episodes in 2010), FNL exec producer Jason Katims offers up the following teasers to get you fired up. Let us issue a SPOILER ALERT and proceed:

• Dillon will live every week like it’s Rivalry Week now that East Dillon High School has reopened. “The whole idea of this season is about this town being divided in two because of this new team,” says Katims. “And over the course of the season, the lines are literally drawn between these two teams. At times it’s funny but it eventually gets really ugly.”

• Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) will be challenged as he assumes the reins of the East Dillon Lions, who aren’t at the top of their game yet. “He’s got to figure out how to make something out of nothing,” says Katims. “It’s tougher than he can even imagine because with all the obstacles he’s had in the past, it came with a group of football players who all wanted to please this guy. When he walked into a room, they took a knee. These guys don’t…. It becomes less about winning a championship [than] winning a game.”

• Prepare to wave goodbye to Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), the former QB stud who boldly decided to skip school and stay in Dillon with his grandmother Lorraine (Louanne Stephens) and girlfriend Julie (Aimee Teegarden). Alas, now he’ll struggle to find himself. Sample bummer: Delivering a pizza to current QB stud J.D. McCoy, played by Jeremy Sumpter. (Gilford, by the way, will appear in the first six episodes; he’s slated to return for one to two more episodes later in the season.) “Ultimately it’s a love story,” hints Katims about the Matt-Julie arc. “It comes down to: What happens when you find your soulmate too [early] and you realize that the best thing to nurture the relationship might not the best thing for yourself and for your future?”

• Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) will try to sort out his life while working with brother Billy (Derek Phillips) at Riggins Rigs, their new repair shop. After his bedroom is converted into a nursery for Billy’s baby, Tim winds up living in a trailer behind the house of Becky (Madison Burge), an East Dillon student/beauty-queen hopeful who bonds with him after he has a one-night stand with her cocktail waitress mother, Cheryl, played by Alicia Witt. (Yes, Tim Riggins is one Panther who’s not afraid of cougars!) “She has a little bit of a Lolita vibe,” says Katims of Becky. “She and Riggins develop a quirky friendship, and later she becomes embroiled in a controversy that permeates the town, and inadvertently she gets Riggins involved.” As for Tim’s love interest, Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly), who left Dillon for Vanderbilt, she’ll appear in two episodes. “An event that happens to one of the characters in the show is going to bringing her back,” says Katims, “and she and Riggins will deal with this relationship that’s been left unfinished.”

• Wanting to enjoy her senior year, Julie (Aimee Teegarden) faces tension in her relationship with Matt as he’s no longer interested in attending high school parties. Plus, notes Katims, “her desire to get into the next phase of her life and become more of an adult is an ongoing story between her and her mom.” And speaking of mom, Tami (Connie Britton) tries to “figure out how to balance the fact that she’d rather be going to the East Dillon games to support her husband, but as the principal, she has to stand up and cheer for the Panthers,” says Katims. Later in the season, Tami comes under fire when she gets enmeshed in a situation with one of the show’s new characters.

• In addition to the aforementioned Becky, we’ll meet several other East Dillon students, including the talented but troubled football player Vince (Michael B. Jordan). “He’s trying to toe that line of becoming a rising star and at the same time doing whatever he needs to do to support his family while his father’s in prison,” says Katims. “And sometimes that puts him in [the position of] doing very questionable things.” Another new face is Luke (Matt Lauria), a standout last year on West Dillon’s JV team who is forced to transfer to East Dillon when it’s discovered that he’s been lying about his address. “He’s a charming, outspoken, upbeat guy who’s been put into a very difficult situation,” says Katims, adding: “He immediately has conflicts with Vince on the team, and these two guys are like oil and water.” And please welcome Jess (Jurnee Smollett), the daughter of ex-football player Virgil “Big Mary” Merriweather (Steve Harris) who’s “very charismatic, high energy, and knows more about football than most guys know,” says Katims. Juicier still, Jess—who’s had an on-again-off-again relationship with Vince—becomes  “romantically entangled” with Landry (Jesse Plemons), who is zoned for East Dillon High and ends up playing for Coach Taylor’s Lions.

To watch EW’s own Michael Ausiello receive acting lessons from Aimee Teegarden, click here.

Photo Credit: Cast: Michael Muller/NBC; Katims: Glenn Harris/PR Photos

Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • Janie

    Go Lions! This is the show I’ve been most looking forward to all summer. The new characters sound great, but I must admit, I’m really not ready for a Matt Saracen-less FNL. I don’t want to see him delivering pizzas either – can this kid not catch a break?

    • Kirra

      No kidding! I always think the same thing. It seems like Matt ALWAYS gets screwed over. And he’s is basically the sweetest person on the show. When is this kid gonna catch a break? lol.

  • K

    I’m counting down the days. I’m so excited for the season to start.

  • DW

    I’m soooo excited for this!! I’m also happy to hear JD will be back. And is anyone else surprised that Alicia Witt is apparently old enough to play someone’s mom?

    • Ceballos

      That’s exactly what I thought. Unfortunately, it also means I’m getting old.

    • Jelana

      I had the same “oh no!” moment when I realized she could, indeed be old enough.

    • Eva

      I had the same reaction. Looking forward to having her own though.

    • rachel

      She is 34 so it is possible, if she had her daughter while in her teens.

    • Kathy

      I love her! Glad to see her on my favorite show in any context, mom or not!

    • mike

      Wasnt it about a week ago, she was Cybil Sheppard’s youngest daughter on her sitcom.

  • couchgrouch

    I switched to DISH and saved a buttload of $$$. then I remembered FNL. D’OH!!

  • Jelana

    Ok, I’m a lawyer, so I’ll just say this, because it’s be grating on me since the season finale. Coach Taylor had the most ironclad employment lawsuit I’ve ever heard of. You cannot demote someone for reporting a criminal act — it is illegal retaliation and it could have been easily proven. Sorry, I’ve been holding that in for months.

    • Mike

      No need to apologize – you’re among friends here who understand.

    • Kathy

      You are so right, and glad you mentioned it. I do think, however, that Coach Taylor realized that he was no longer wanted at Dillon High, and his life, if he sued and won, would be hell, so why go through all that, especially with Tami being Dillon’s principal. He’s too good a guy, and now he can build a team, HIS team, somewhere else. Just my thoughts.

  • natalee

    I do hope that JD’s parents will be back. His dad is a villain I’d love to hate and Janine Turner is awesome as his mom.

  • Sheralyn

    I was hoping Riggins would be helping out Coach Taylor with the new Lions. :(

  • Kyle

    Hey wait–I thought us DirecTV-less fans had to wait until SUMMER 2010 to see season 4 on NBC–but according to the above it says ‘early 2010’? Has NBC changed their minds?? Please please please!

    • Kristen

      Yeah, I thought the same thing. If it really is coming on in spring instead of summer, I’ll just wait to watch it instead of trying to find it online. Anyone know for sure when it’s airing?

    • mike

      Last year, directv showed the episodes first. They own the show. Then NBC showed them. I assume its the same this year and next.

  • Jayne Hasselroth

    We are looking forward to the new season to begin. No other TV show is as compelling as “Friday Night Lights” and we are so happy we have DirecTV. Looks like Wednesday nights will be party night at the Hasselroth’s house. Just want to mention that we will be Lion’s fans this season because where Coach Taylor lives we call the Home team.
    We just love that wonderful man and the actor Kyle Chandler as well.

    GO LION’S!
    The Hasselroth Family in Chicagoland

  • David T

    I’m sorry, didn’t Landry graduate along with Matt and the rest?

    • Kathy

      No, he’s the same age as Julie. A year younger than Matt. He and Julie were freshman season one, the year that Jason Street graduated.

      • Angela

        See, I have a probably with this unless Landry was help back a year because in the first season he was driving Matt to football practice because Matt did not have a car. If I remember correctly you do not get driver license when your 15. I really hate the whole age thing because Riggins should have graduated and so should have Lyla when Jason was injured. I did not get the impress Tim was a sophmore the first season.

      • Brett

        Yeah, that’s the only issue I have with this show. In the first season, I thought that Tim and Lyla were either juniors or seniors, and that Matt, Landry and Julie were sophomores. We all knew Jason was a Senior. Then, when the 3rd season started I remember being surprised to see that Matt and Lyla were still in high school. Since the show gives the impression that Jason, Tim and Lyla are childhood friends, I thought they couldn’t have been more than one year apart, so it didn’t make much sense to me that Jason is two years older than them. I suppose it’s possible, but that’s a fairly substantial gap at that age. But then I got over that and just figured it was the writers’ way of prolonging these characters’ tenure on the show.

      • Ronnie

        Since it’s set in Texas, maybe they got hung up on the TAKS state tests! LOL

  • Matt

    They’ve stretched the whole age/grade thing a bit, but I haven’t found I’ve had to suspend my disbelief overly much. Landry should be gone, but the show needs a certain % of Texan actors, and you could do worse than Plemons. I don’t see him being an important factor on the football field, though.

  • Mo

    CAN.NOT.WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!! Me and my bf broke up, but I played it cool because he has Direct TV (and hence the commercial free FNL) and I cannot wait for NBC to re-air it. FNL…bringing people together. LOL

    • Anne

      Best FNL story ever!

  • Zooey

    I’m in trouble on Wednesday nights now. I can only record one channel and watch another and I have 3 good ones, Glee, Modern Family and FNL. I think I’ll let Glee go and catch it in re-runs. :-(

    • RD

      Zooey- have you ever checked out Hulu.com? Glee episodes go up the day after they air, and you can watch the last 5 weeks’ shows! I highly recommend it so you don’t have to wait too long and risk spoilers!

  • Alex

    I’m worried that we’re now going to lose the “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts can’t lose” slogan now that Coach T is at East Dillon. No-one says it like he does…
    I am foaming at the mouth for Season 4.

  • Tom Hoeg


    Just curious will the shows be available on Universal HD as in the past?


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