'Friday Night Lights' returns on NBC

"Friday Night Lights" (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14) returns to network television for a fourth season, featuring the same top-notch acting and documentary-style melodrama that have made it one of the most highly praised series of any TV season.

Last season's "Lights" ended with a wedding-reception scene among the most beautifully shot and artfully nuanced moments I've ever had the pleasure to watch on the small screen.

Season 4 begins with the district rezoned into East and West Dillon High Schools, with coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) demoted to the down-and-out East Dillon squad, whose locker room is festooned with gang symbols and infested by at least one raccoon. His wife, Tami (Connie Britton), remains the principal of West Dillon. She deals with the fallout from the new arrangement and faces down the wrath of parents of students reassigned to the "ghetto" school.

On other fronts, Taylor's former players, Matt (Zach Gilford) and Tim (Taylor Kitsch), adjust to the awkward letdown of watching life go by as underemployed high school graduates when a new football season begins without them. This sense of small-town suffocation and dislocation recalls scenes from the epic 1971 Texas drama "The Last Picture Show," a classic that has clearly inspired "Friday Night Lights."

• The popular and intriguing series "What Would You Do?" (8 p.m., ABC) returns for four episodes over the course of the late spring and summer. As the title suggests, it combines elements of "Candid Camera" with thought-provoking questions about morality, ethics, privacy, generosity and just plain common sense.


Along the way, we see perfect strangers react to peculiar and challenging situations. A provocatively dressed and apparently inebriated woman is "helped" by a man at bar who offers to take her home. Will people come to her aid or just mind their own business? Other folks see a convenience-store clerk pocket lottery winnings. Do they intervene? In an even more dire scenario, strangers see a woman who appears to be bruised, accompanied by a loud and apparently violent man. Do strangers get involved in what seems to be a situation of domestic violence? Should they?

Other highlights

• A kidnapping case puts Melinda in peril on "Ghost Whisperer" (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG,V).

• The hospital goes on lockdown on "House" (7 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14).

• A seagoing Australian couple (Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman) encounter a shipwrecked psychopath (Billy Zane) in the 1989 thriller "Dead Calm" (7 p.m., TWC, TV-14). Yes, it's on the Weather Channel.

• Ariel becomes unstuck in time on "Medium" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

• Something smells rotten in a Danish restaurant on "Kitchen Nightmares" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

• The team needs advice from Earth on "Stargate Universe" (8 p.m., Syfy).


• A bully at a festival fills the wards on "Miami Medical" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

• Russell Crowe, Reginald D. Hunter and Dizzee appear on "Friday Night With Jonathan Ross" (9 p.m., BBC America, TV-14).

• Catrina assumes first lady status on "Merlin" (9 p.m., SyFy).

• A catered orgy proves to be a bit of a letdown on "Party Down" (9 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

• Director David Lean lends his widescreen epic touch to Boris Pasternak's novel "Doctor Zhivago" (9 p.m., TCM), starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. From 1965.

Cult choice

Big stars (John Huston, Shelley Winters and Henry Fonda) can't rescue the 1977 shocker "Tentacles" (2:45 a.m., TCM) from its B-movie roots. The classic 1951 Cold War short film "Duck and Cover" (4:30 a.m., TCM) follows.

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