Friday Night Lights heads to ESPN channels for another lap around the field

Friday Night Lights is like a cockroach. A clear-eyed, full hearted cockroach. Nothing seems to be able to kill it -- not incompentent network execs, not a train wreck of a second season, not even a nuclear apocolypse.

friday night lights

FNL will air its series finale on NBC this Friday and I assumed that this would be last we would see of the fine folks of Dillon, Texas (at least until ABC Family inevitably picks the show up in a couple of years). Fortunately, it appears that we won't have to wait that long.

ESPN will begin airing the football drama in its entirety begining tonight, The Wrap reports. The sports network will broadcast the first two episodes of the first season back-to-back this evening starting at 8pm. For those of you who missed FNL's original run on NBC or the later seasons that first aired on DirecTV, tonight's episodes on ESPN are must-see TV. The debut episode is hands down one of the top ten pilots of all time. I defy you to watch this episode and not be completely hooked.

After the first two episodes, the show will be moved from the "mothership" to ESPN Classic. Classic will burn through the entire first season in a marathon starting on July 14th. Then on July 21st the show will begin its regular schedule, airing on ESPN Classic every Thursday night at 9pm. In August when ESPN launches the Longhorn Network, a channel dedicated to Texas sports, the new network will carry every episode of all five seasons.

ESPN is putting on a full-court press to promote the show, something that NBC could never be bothered to attempt. Bill Simmons, sports writer and a long-time FNL advocate, will publish an "oral history of the series told through the words of the entire cast and crew" to run on his new sports/pop culture website, Grantland.

For ESPN, a channel that has struggled to find scripted programming that complements its brand (and doesn't completely piss off the NFL), Friday Night Lights is a perfect fit. Connor Schell, Vice President and Executive Producer for ESPN Films and ESPN Classic, said in an interview with The Wrap, "We were attracted to it because the quality of the show is so strong and it has such a passionate and loyal following. It's just incredible long form storytelling in and around sports."

By Lucas High

About the author

Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at lhigh2@gmail.com, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/LucasHigh.

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