Ted Lasso’s third (and final?) season is a game of two halves

Ted Lasso, Apple TV+; new episodes Wednesdays

If the team behind soccer dramedy Ted Lasso are to be believed, the third and latest season will be the last. Unless, of course, this pulsating match ends in a draw, goes to extra time, and is decided on a penalty shoot-out. In other words, it gets a fourth.

Much as I have raved about the show in the past, having seen the first four episodes of the new season I’m in two minds about whether more would be better.

Nathan (Nick Mohammed) comes face to face with Ted (Jason Sudeikis) as Rupert (Anthony Head) watches on. Credit:Apple TV+

The show has always been at its best when it balances the sunny optimism exemplified by Ted (Jason Sudeikis), the know-nothing American who inexplicably ends up coaching a second-tier English team all the way to the Premier League, with the darker elements represented by hardman player-turned coach Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and assistant coach Beard (Brendan Hunt).

But as this new season opens and Ted moons over his young son’s return to his mother Stateside, the balance is out of whack. We’re practically drowning in treacle, and given the real-life issues surrounding the breakdown of Sudeikis’ relationship with Olivia Wilde and subsequent custody battles, it leaves a funny taste in the mouth.

The antics of club owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and glamour model-turned PR maven Keeley (Juno Temple) seem underwritten and overplayed, too, with the ladies cast as hamfisted comic relief. It all feels slightly misjudged.

Comic relief: PR maven Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) and AFC Richmond owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham).Credit:Apple TV+

Thankfully, balance is soon restored. First, Nathan (Nick Mohammed), the former junior coach lionised as a wonder kid (“I think it’s wunderkind, actually”, he insists), emerges as a venomous, hate-fuelled nemesis.

He’s the Vader-like Yang to Ted’s Obi-Wan, with Rebecca’s ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head), the new owner of West Ham United, lurking in the background as his Palpatine.

The silliness (and, it has to be said, enjoyment) steps up a notch with the arrival of star recruit Zava (Maximilian Osinski, husband of Nepalese-born Australian actress Dichen Lachman). Clearly modelled on the Serbian-Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he is a footballing genius, a goal-scoring machine, and a one-man love-in, with himself as both subject and object of his affection.

He’s also a bit of a Zen master, and his impact on the team is instantaneous and powerful. Picked by every pundit to be relegated at the end of the season, AFC Richmond are soon riding high, and challenging West Ham, improbably tipped to “win the lot” in a bit of punditry that could only have come from Americans with little knowledge of or interest in English soccer, for top spot.

New recruit Zava (Maximilian Osinski) shares his considerable wisdom with his new teammates in season 3 of Ted Lasso.Credit:Apple TV+

But throughout it all, the real battle is inside. Ted’s wife has hooked up with the marriage counsellor, the club psychiatrist (Sarah Niles) has moved on, and even occasional lover Sassy (Ellie Taylor) thinks he’s in no state to go on a “real” date. Ouch.

With Nate eaten up by resentment and self-loathing, Ted by self-doubt, star player Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) torn between narcissism and team ethic, it’s clear the real subject of Ted Lasso is self-belief. Too much, you’re a Zava. Too little, you’re a mess.

I’m not going to predict how this all turns out, after all, comedy-drama is a game of two halves, but I suspect there’ll be tears aplenty before the final whistle.

Find more of the author’s work here. Email him at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

Most Viewed in Culture

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article