What a difference a switch to DirecTV made. The Season 3 premiere wasn't a reboot of the show per se, but it certainly feels ready to forget all of the missteps made last season and focus on some good ol' football-centric stories. Tonight's episode not only reminded me of how amazing this show can be but it was exciting, well-written and well-acted.
The show smartly decided to skip over last season's playoff games (Season 2 was shortened due to the Writer's Strike). It's hard to blame a show for having to work with a shortened episode load, but at the same time, the way the writers eased us back into Dillon life was superb. We learn that Tami has become principal of the school (don't ask me how), Smash injured himself in the playoffs and lost his scholarship as he attempts to heal again and a new QB is in town named J.D McCoy, and despite Coach Taylor's attempt to keep him as QB 1, McCoy has a father with a lot of influence and a strong arm to rival Jason Street.
The football scenes were amazing, as usual, and Kyle Chandler was a powerhouse tonight. I'm not sure how he never won an Emmy for the first four seasons of the show, but this episode was proof of how powerful he is. And everyone else was on their game too. The Taylor family stuff remained strong as Coach Taylor and Tami now have equally difficult tasks to face involving the school. I'm looking forward to seeing how Tami does as principal.
As for the rest of the characters, I was pleased to see that we didn't have as many ridiculous stories going on a.k.a Riggins shacking up with a meth dealer, Street going to Mexico for a weird surgery, Landry killing a rapist). Instead, we get simpler high school stuff, like Riggins and Lilatentativelydating, Smash personally training with Coach Taylor to get back to college and Tyra attempting to up her G.P.A to get to a good college. I just loved the way the characters were interacting tonight and it felt like an early Season 1 episode.
This is a powerful start to Season 3 and I have high hopes for the rest. With a 13 episode season, they have less room to work with but that could be a good thing. It could help focus the writers to keep the story-telling simple and sweet, and that's a great thing.