This column tri-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” appears every third Wednesday.
Not very often does a television program come along that tells a great story. Sure, a lot of what is written for television is quality. But when the shows go off the air, we are sad because we have become attached to the characters. Or perhaps we have become attached to sitting our asses down at the same time week after week for years to see these people entertain us.
Just take a look at the shows I have been passionate about: Coach, Seinfeld, The West Wing, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and countless others that I can’t recall at the moment. I most distinctly remember the ending of Friends and Seinfeld.
Those are two of my all-time favorites (and I own the entire Seinfeld series). When Seinfeld ended it was an event. Millions watched. Some were upset at the ending but for a show about nothing, we weren’t attached to the story, we were attached to the comedy.
As for Friends, I cried during the final episode. I had grown up with the friends and as they all placed their keys on the counter and began their next journeys, we would not be going with them. But I did not desire to have them continue. They had run their course.
For five years I lived the ups and downs of Friday Night Lights. The show that NBC tried to kill only to hear from the show’s small, but forceful fan base. I was attached to the people, the team, the school, the town. Lucky for me, and the many other fans, NBC teamed up with DirecTV to team-produce two more 13-episode seasons.
Aside from being a huge fan of the show, I have written about it in the past. One of the re-used phrases on the show came from Coach Taylor and it was simple, yet deep. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.
Someday I will have that slogan, that motto, hanging for my kids to see. I’m not sure what it was meant to mean exactly, but I take it to me that if you have a clear vision, if your hearts are full of love and compassion, there is no way you can come away a loser.
As coach and his players completed their fifth and final season on television, I was struck by how different it felt. I wanted more. They made me believe. They made me dream. They made me cry and scream and sit on the edge of my seat.
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.
What other television show can tackle the issues of underage drinking, teenage sex, homosexuality, absent parents, marriage, abortion and live to tell about it? Not many, but Friday Night Lights did all that and more.
In my now favorite scene of the finale – and possibly the entire series – coach and one of his student assistants are talking in his office when she says, “This has been the greatest experience of my life.” The camera pans to coach and he smirks and replies, “You know, I think it’s been mine too.”
That is all I will ever need to know about this show and these characters. That no matter the opponent, the challenge, the obstacle, if you believe in your dreams and you love those around you, you can not lose.
Say it with me: Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.