You already know the good news: Friday Night Lights will indeed return for a third season — on DirecTV — starting Oct. 1. (NBC will air those 13 episodes again in 2009). Now here’s some better news: FNL exec producer Jason Katims gave EW.com a sneak peek at his playbook for the upcoming season. It’s some pretty good scoop, so we’ll have to put out a SPOILER ALERT for those who wish to avert their eyes at this time.
• The action will skip ahead about eight months to the fall and the final year of high school for several main characters, including Lyla (Minka Kelly), Tyra (Adrianne Palicki), Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch, pictured), and Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford). “This season is going to be a lot about their senior year, the coming of age,” Katims says. “Who are they going to be? What are they going to do? Are they going to go to college or be stuck in Dillon? Or do they choose to stay in Dillon?”
• There is a possibility of increasing the length of each episode — and including slightly juicier content — for the run on DirecTV, but nothing has been determined yet.
• Tami (Connie Britton) has received a big promotion at school — from guidance counselor to principal. “It starts out with Coach [Chandler] loving it,” Katims says. “Tami’s bringing home this big paycheck. But at a certain point, he realizes that this woman is now technically his boss. It definitely tests them a little bit.” Especially when they don’t see eye-to-eye on certain academics-versus-athletics issues.
After the jump, Katmis previews season 3 romances: "[O]nce they’ve actually gotten involved, they both realize that they’re a complete odd couple."
sc• A couple of new faces (not yet cast) will pop up in Dillon, and one will cause a quarterback controversy. Said newcomer is “a freshman phenomenon who has been moved to Dillon from Dallas by his very wealthy parents to play on the Panthers and take Matt Saracen’s job,” Katims says. Also complicating Matt’s life is the sudden appearance of his mother. “He hasn’t seen her since he was probably seven years old,” says Katims. “One of the really interesting arcs this season is the very, very slow reconnection between Matt and his mother.”
• On the love front, Tim’s pursuit of Lyla has apparently paid off, as the two are now dating. “They are trying to have a mature relationship despite the fact that once they’ve actually gotten involved, they both realize that they’re a complete odd couple,” Katims says. Landry (Jesse Plemons) must cope with the fact that he and Tyra (Palicki) are in the Friend Zone as Tyra finds herself in a “hot-and-heavy, smoldering romance” with a local rodeo star. “The question we’re raising is whether he’s going to sidetrack her,” says Katims of Tyra’s new man. “She is adamantly trying to get into college and buck the odds and not become her mom and her sister.” As for Matt and Julie (Aimee Teegarden), the exes are spending more time together. Will there be a romantic reunion? “It starts as just reconnecting as friends and then it becomes potentially more than that,” Katims hints.
• The decision to say goodbye to graduates Smash (Gaius Charles) and Jason Street (Scott Porter) is “very sad, but it’s tempered for me by the fact that their stories are so strong,” Katims says, referencing the four-episode farewell arcs that each will have this season. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these two incredible actors dig into them.” Katims teases that Smash hits some kind of “bump in the road,” loses his scholarship, and is working at Alamo Freeze when Coach attempts to help him get back into a college. Meanwhile, to support his baby and prove to Erin (Tamara Jolaine) that he’s a worthy mate, new dad Jason tries his hand at the home-flipping business (and it involves the Garrity house).
• By the way, don’t rule out a return for Charles and/or Porter down the road: “We would love to have them back,” notes Katims. “Should either of them be available and want to come back — whether it is next season or the end of this season — that’s something we’re definitely going to want to pursue.”
For more on the ‘Friday Night Lights’ season 3 game plan, check out the Ausiello Files.
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