Extraordinary in just about every conceivable way — but especially in the quality of its cast — NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” expands upon and extends the 2004 movie of the same name about high school football in a Texas town where the game is only nominally a game. It’s also a community obsession, a religion, a way of life, a source of energy and an excessively cherished institution.
Onto the harshly lit field of dreams each Friday night come the young Panthers — the No. 1 team in the state — in whom the townsfolk place entirely too much importance. Even though “Friday Night Lights” exposes the banalities of the central ritual and its reverberations, it isn’t judgmental or prone to ridicule. The production is so skillfully done that even skeptics, even people who hate football, could easily be caught up in the drama and the melodrama, the grand opera and the soap opera, that come with the game and with the territory.