When the curtain drops on Friday Night Lights tonight (8 p.m. ET, NBC) after five seasons and 76 episodes, it will mark the end of one of TV's more improbable comeback stories.
Left for dead after a problematic, reductive marketing campaign torpedoed its rookie-season ratings, Peter Berg's loose adaptation of Buzz Bissinger's 1990 bestseller traded on a small but fanatical fan base to endure for a half-decade on two different networks. Adored by pundits but largely ignored by wider audiences, FNL's critical mass culminated Thursday with Emmy nominations for Best Actor (Kyle Chandler), Actress (Connie Britton) and Writing in a Dramatic Series (Jason Katims for tonight's series finale) and -- for the first time -- the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama.
But the overdue awards-season vindication arrives long after FNL secured its place among the all-time great TV series.