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NBC
Brian “Smash” Williams (Gaius Charles) talks to his coach (Kyle Chandler) in “Friday Night Lights.”

‘Friday Night Lights’ benefits from ‘refining’

If you’re one of the folks who have been watching the Texas high school football drama “Friday Night Lights” since September on DirecTV, you might think this is not the story for you.

You might be wrong.

Even though the satellite TV provider had the right to air the episodes first, when “Friday Night Lights” returns to NBC on Friday, it arrives looking a little more “refined” and with extra material made available.

“Even though there might be people who saw the show on DirecTV,” executive producer Jason Katims says, “I’m not sure they won’t come back. There’s going to be additional material now that we’re going to be able to put up on NBC.com. We’ll be able to put up deleted scenes and additional material, new things for them.

“We have a tremendous amount of scenes that, over the course of the season, that we’ve had to take out, really good material. That’s always been the case with the show.

“That’s something that has not been made available before. That will be made available as we start airing on NBC.”

As for the episodes themselves, Katims says, “They’ll be slightly different. One of the things that’s been enjoyable about the process, usually you do the episode, and it’s done, and you never get to go back and reconsider it. We’ve gotten to do that.

“We’ve done a little bit of what I would say is refining. I was able to go back and look at the first few episodes, having seen the last episode. Seeing as it’s a show with characters that are constantly evolving and changing, it informs a little bit how you go back and look at those early ones.

“The episodes are as strong, if not stronger, than they ever have been.”

According to Katims, NBC will also be able to air the 13 episodes produced in partnership with DirecTV straight through, without pre-emptions.

For those who haven’t yet seen the show, Katims gives a little preview of what’s to come for the Panthers of Dillon High, saying, “We’re dealing with this being a year of transition and coming of age for a lot of our characters. Four of our characters are seniors and are graduating this year; others have already graduated and they’re growing up.”

Among the characters in transition are graduating player Brian “Smash” Williams (Gaius Charles) and paraplegic ex-quarterback Jason Street (Scott Porter).

“We’re dealing with two of the most emotional things we’ve done this season, which are Smash and Jason Street,” Katims says, “who both came back to do arcs but weren’t there for the whole season.

“It resulted in two very, very powerful story lines. They’re very, very different in their natures, but they’re both about the two of them becoming men and moving on with their lives.”

Another character coping with change is coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), who takes on a new freshman quarterback phenom, J.D. McCoy (Jeremy Sumpter, “Clubhouse”), who unfortunately comes with a rich, overbearing father (D.W. Moffet) and an eccentric mother (Janine Turner).

“Coach is dealing with having a very powerful dad of a player, who wants to control what he does,” Katims says. “What you find out over the course of some episodes is that he has some control. So that’s a big challenge for the coach.”

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