You Really Should Be Watching Ted Lasso

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce my novelist’s blog. As you may know I am taking a short break from my stories and doing the groundwork for the next one which will be a bit different than Alanna the Piranha. My novelist meanwhile is going to discuss some outstanding television shows available on streaming during the next few weeks that you may or may not have gotten a chance to see.

It is raining more than usual here in the northwest. May can be a beautiful month, but we are getting none of that. There have been breaks where there is sun but a lot of the time the place is living up to its reputation of having downpours. I was supposed to go on walkies today but that is looking unlikely. I do detest getting wet. I do my best work on walkies as I mull over ideas for writing.  

That said, perhaps tomorrow there will be a break and I can return to my brilliant musings. In the meantime, I will keep the Maltese company and snarl and charge him when I get bored. Here my novelist’s post. Nasoloditisya!

You Really Should Be Watching Ted Lasso

Apple TV+ has been making strong headway in the streaming market especially with taking the Academy award for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for CODA. And its television shows are outstanding as well which is partly why I wanted to give Gigi a break and talk about a couple of them over the next few weeks.

Although it is not my favorite dramedy of all time, Ted Lasso is clearly a fantastic show. It’s a big breath of fresh air in a swamp of mediocrity. The plot is high concept. A successful American college football coach named Ted Lasso (brilliantly played by Jason Sudeikis) whose marriage is on the skids agrees to take a job across the pond as head coach for British soccer team AFC Richmond (the greyhounds). The team is own by recently divorced Rebecca Welton (also brilliantly played by Hannah Waddingham) who wants nothing more than to thwart her menacing ex-husband Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head of Buffy the Vampire fame) who cheated on her constantly during their marriage and ran off with a younger woman also named Rebecca. Rebecca’s plan is to annihilate the soccer team her husband adores by driving it into the ground and hires Ted who clearly knows little to nothing about soccer to help her achieve that goal. Although the show has dark themes running through it, it manages to be charming and upbeat.

Ted is an infectious and likeable character who tries to look at the positive side of everything even when things are at their worst. A modern-day Pollyanna if you will. Armed with only his good nature and his assistant coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) he lands in England to a storm of dislike and distrust. The press is against him, the players don’t trust him, and the fans think he is a wanker, a term they say to his face. But Ted stays the course and little by little begins to win over the team, the press, and the fans.

Rounding out the cast are team captain Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), star player Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), Head of Marketing and fashion model Keeley Jones (Juno Temple), Director of Communications Higgins (Jeremy Swift) and ambitious kit man Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammad).

Many writer/directors out there have a consistent theme that runs through their movies. The Cohen Brothers write about greed. Quentin Tarantino writes about honor. The writers of Ted Lasso focus on fathers. Ted is a father who has been separated from his little boy and it’s killing him especially because he harbors a dark secret about his own dad. Rebecca also knows uncomfortable secrets about her father. Not to mention her ex-husband never wanted to have children with her but he’s perfectly fine having one with his young girlfriend. Roy knows the father of his niece is a jerk, so he steps into the role of her dad. Jamie’s father is an embarrassing lowbrow ass who treats his son abysmally. And no matter what Nathan does or what he accomplishes he can never please his. In fact, the only person who seems to have a healthy relationship with his dad is rising star soccer player Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh).

There are some strange character choices at times that don’t work for me especially in the second season. They don’t seem to add to the character’s persona. In fact, some of the choices weaken the characters’ intelligence and integrity and makes them a little less appealing. It also interferes with the flow of the major storylines.  At the same time there are also some brilliant choices, one being the journey of Nathan’s character. Another is season two episode nine which ironically is the episode with the lowest ratings on IMDB. Probably because it is the least emotional and most imaginative and off-beat of all the episodes. I would like to see the writers stretch themselves more like they did with this one from time to time and see where they could go with that kind of creativity. I wouldn’t mind if all the unusual episodes focused on Beard whom we don’t really get know enough about. The trick might be to add a touch more seriousness to the surrealism. Maybe they could call in Glen Gordon Carron for writing advice who is a master of thinking outside the box for television episodes.

That said season two does end on a strong note with the emergence of a well set up villain, an Iago of sorts. It puts the show in a great position to build a strong trajectory plot for season three which I look forward to with bated breath.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: FRESH (1994)-Paramount+, Pluto TV & ScreenPix

Finally, finally, finally I have been able to find this film on streaming. One of my favorite movies of 1994 and of the 1990’s in general this brilliant, underrated masterwork tells a grittier more tragic version of Searching for Bobby Fisher. It is written and directed by Boaz Yakin whose work is outstanding here on all levels.

Fresh a.k.a. Michael, (a then twelve-year-old Sean Nelson in a phenomenal performance) is a boy genius and chess prodigy who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He runs drugs for a man named Corky (Ron Brice) and for a man named Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and The Mandalorian fame). Fresh is serious about his education and dreads being late to class especially when he must wait for indifferent drug dealers. He is also cautious and frugal with the money he earns, keeping it in a can he has hidden in a ground pipe in a wooded area near abandoned railroad or possibly subway tracks. He dreams of getting out of the violent and impoverished world in which he is stuck.

His father Sam (Samuel L. Jackson) is a chess master/hustler who lives in a beat-up trailer outside a building and has several chess boards set up inside where he is playing against famous master chess players. He has taught his gifted child everything he knows about the game. Fresh does not live with his father but rather in the projects in an apartment with several other kids. His older sister Nichole (N’Bushe Wright) is a drug addict who has taken up with Esteban much to Fresh’s dismay.  

When one of Corky’s right hand men Jake (Jean-Claude La Marre) shoots and kills another twelve-year old on an outdoor basketball court our of jealousy, he inadvertently also shoots Fresh’s friend and sweetheart Rosie (Natima Bradley). The event starts Fresh on a harrowing journey involving a whole new kind of chess game. One that puts him on a path to take down Esteban and Corky.  

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