urx unit loader Touchdown! The third season of 'Friday Night Lights'

It is with clear eyes and a full heart that I ask you, no I beg you, to watch the third season of Friday Night Lights, which begins its run on NBC this Friday at 9 p.m.

As most of you know, the this season already ran on DirectTV  (and if you have DirectTV you can watch the season finale Wednesday at 9 p.m.) and now will repeat on NBC. I’m on a little bit of a FNL high since NBC sent out the first 11 episodes of the season and I was able to experience the season in a back to back to back episode love affair.

There’s no way that any critique I provide of the series could even begin to tell you how completely, for lack of a better word, awesome this season is. The cliché “I laughed. I cried. It changed my life.” almost immediately comes to mind. This is a transformative television series. NBC is a better network just by airing it. TV is a better medium because a show like Friday Night Lights exists. I know I’m gushing but I can’t help myself.

In many ways, Friday Night Lights is the most difficult type of drama to do. There are no crimes to solve or patients to cure. There is no overarching mystery to be unraveled. No day to be saved. No scheme to be plotted. It’s just the small, delicate nuances of every day life that this series delicately and beautifully explores.

Many of you have written me that you feel like the series pretty much ignored much of what happened in the second season and that you were okay with that. I completely agree. The third season returns the show to its season one glory (no wayward story lines like Landry committing murder) while advancing the characters, deepening the relationships, and having some of the most honest moments ever in a scripted series. In the age of Gossip Girl and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Friday Night Lights also offers up a heartbreakingly realistic take on the high school experience.

Here’s what else I think you need to know about this season:

1. If you haven’t watched the show since the first season or at all, it’s easy to pick up. Kyle Chandler, in the best role of his career, stars as Coach Eric Taylor. You don’t need to even understand football to watch the series. Football serves as the backdrop. The town of Dillon, Texas and its love of the sport and the Panther football team may be unique but the shows themes about growing up, moving on, loving your family and making difficult choices are universal.

2. The series says goodbye to both Smash (Gaius Charles) and Jason Street (Scott Porter) because, as in life, these characters have graduated from high school and it is time for their next chapter. Each gets his own four-episode story arc that sets the stage for his departure. Their storylines are so compelling you’ll find yourself wishing they were both headlining their own FNL spin-off.

3. Tami (Connie Britton) and Eric have the best marriage on TV. She’s feisty. He’s stubborn. They love each other but have disagreements that are palpably believable.

4. Tim Riggins. Tim Riggins. Tim Riggins. Although this is one of those shows where every five minutes I switch my mind about who my favorite character is, Riggins, the most complex bad boy on prime time, always prevails as my favorite.

5. In the age of Momma’s Boys (I’m still trying to erase the memory of this awful show), we need to do our part to encourage NBC to actually air scripted shows. This drama is so good it doesn’t belong on the NBC that exists right now but that’s where it is so that’s where we need to go to watch it.

So please tune into Friday Night Lights. Have I ever steered you wrong before? (I know, I know. Do we really have to bring up Windfall again?) If you tune into the show Friday night you won’t be disappointed.

And if you watched the show on DirectTV in the fall, I say watch or DVR these episodes again. The series needs all the support it can get.

Talk about Friday Night Lights below.

Highlights of the Week Ahead

All times listed are Eastern Time for January 12-18

The CBS comedies are all new tonight. Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Kendra and Kim Kardashian all play themselves in an episode of How I Met Your Mother (Monday, CBS, 8:30 p.m.) that finds Robin and Ted deciding to become friends with benefits. Under the Britney Spears Doctrine of 2008, I’m totally okay with this parade of reality stars. I’m for this show doing whatever it has to do to bring more and more viewers to one of the best comedies on prime time. And if you missed Neil Patrick Harris hosting Saturday Night Live, click here.

The four-hour two-night season premiere of 24 concludes Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX. I think there are some people you will be very happy to see. And how do we feel about the new season so far?

You don’t even want to know how much I used to love Duran Duran. Apparently someone at Samantha Who? must have loved them too because John Taylor guest stars as rock star Tommy Wylder at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

Kyle XY is back for a third season on ABC Family at 9 p.m. Monday night. I don’t watch the show regularly but I did like the premiere and I have a question for you guys — do we want Kyle with Amanda or Jessi?

A little show called American Idol is back Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on FOX. Kara DioGuardi is being added as a fourth judge. I can’t wait to see how she interacts with Simon. And the good news is this season will feature more of Hollywood week, bring back the group try out during Hollywood week and the return to letting the judges have a Wild Card round to get down to the final 12. Still, despite the show’s new kinder, gentler “Share Your Voice” campaign, this week’s auditions (the show also airs Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is bound to feature more bad singers who think they are talented than good singers who actually are. That’s why, no matter how much I actually enjoy this cheesy show, I sit these first few weeks out.

Lost is back next week and to catch up, you can watch the last three hours of last season this Wednesday at  8 p.m. on ABC.

As if Thursday night wasn’t stressful enough, Bones moves to Thursday at 8 p.m. on FOX. Andy Richter guest stars as an owner of a travelling circus.

Patrick Swayze and Travis Fimmel star in the new A&E series The Beast Thursday at 10 p.m.  Swayze is quite good as the undercover FBI agent who may be playing for the wrong team but the series is incredibly dark both visually and tonally and not that compelling.

Sure it would have been more fun if Alex Kingston had stopped by County General when Anthony Edwards did but I’m still happy to see Dr. Corday one more time as the parade of returning characters continues on ER (Thursday, NBC, 10 p.m.).

It’s the beginning of the end of Battlestar Galatcia. The series returns for its final run Friday at 10 p.m. on the Sci Fi Channel.

I can’t quite figure out what Brothers & Sisters (Sunday, ABC, 10 p.m.) is up to with Robert. He’s suddenly becoming a bit of a jerk and I’m not sure why. Anyone have a theory?

That’s all for today. I’m back on Wednesday with a look at this week’s familiar faces, a review of The United States of Tara and all the gossip I can gather up from the Television Critics Association Press Tour in LA. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com. Talk to you on Wednesday.

Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal