Michael Slezak
October 04, 2006 AT 08:48 PM EDT

So I sat down for the premiere of NBC’s Friday Night Lights much like I used to do with a plate of broccoli back in second grade: I had something icky and foreign and clearly not dessert in front of me, but I wasn’t getting up from the table till it was finished. The funny thing is, though, much as I’ve come to discover that I actually enjoy the green vegetable often maligned by today’s yoot, I also found Friday Night Lights to be a surprisingly tasty Tuesday-night treat.

As I found with Ugly Betty, though I’d never crossed paths with the show’s source material (in this case, H.G. Bissinger’s book, and the 2004 movie of the same name), there wasn’t a plot point in Friday Night Lights that I didn’t see telegraphed from 100 yards away. (Did I just make a football reference? No?) The second they showed earnest backup QB Matt (Zach Gilford) practicing out in his yard, you knew superstar first-stringer Jason was gonna get carried out on a stretcher. Yet despite its predictability, I still found myself getting misty-eyed as the Panthers rallied to victory and poor Jason headed for the ER.

Maybe that’s because the show’s cast is uniformly solid, particularly the lived-in interplay between very appealing leads Connie Britton (pictured) and Kyle Chandler, as Mr. and Mrs. Coach. But is that enough to get the show a season pass on my DVR? Considering it ranks beneath Betty, Heroes, Smith, and The Nine (don’t miss its premiere tonight! seriously!) on my new-series pecking order, that’s doubtful, but if one of those shows gets benched, Friday Night Lights has a chance at intercepting my attention. That is, if it doesn’t get sacked itself (Mediaweek reports it drew a paltry 7.2 million viewers last night). What’s your call, PopWatchers?

addCredit(“Friday Night Lights: Paul Drinkwater”)

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