Why would anyone let Ted Lasso quit now?
Everyone's favourite cornball coach is bowing out too soon. Plus, Netflix's MH370 doco and everything else you should be watching this weekend.
Kia ora! Welcome to Friday and another healthy heap of recs to get your weekend off to the best possible start. I hate the phrase “guilty pleasure” – it’s such a negative way to describe something designed to make you feel good. For many, that’s exactly what they’d call Ted Lasso, a show built on whimsy, a moustache and corny gags. We all binge-watched Apple TV+’s biggest show to cope with lockdowns, but how does the comedy fare when we’re not dealing with Covid stresses and strains? Let’s find out.
Bad jokes, good vibes and whimsy: Ted Lasso is going out as it came in
Microphones are laid out on the table. Cameras are live streaming every word. The coach eyes the packed press gallery and attempts to crack a joke. “I’m so dumb, the first time I heard y’all talking about Yorkshire pudding, I thought it was a fancy word for dog poop,” he says. Eyes roll. Undeterred, he keeps going. “I’m so dumb, whenever I text someone over here about money, I still spell pounds, ‘lbs’.” That gets a smile, so he doubles down on the personal insults. “I look like Ned Flanders is doing cosplay as Ned Flanders … When I talk, it sounds like Dr Phil hasn’t gone through puberty yet.”
There’s only one character on television who can crack jokes that bad and get away with them. We are, of course, talking about Ted Lasso, Apple TV+’s hit series about a fish-out-of-water American football coach tasked with taking a middling UK soccer team into the big leagues. Those kinds of lame, drunk-uncle-at-the-Christmas-dinner-table gags are at the heart and soul of Ted Lasso. They shouldn’t work. They don’t work. If you don’t believe me, try using one on your friends next time you’re having drinks. Watch their faces scrunch up. They may ask if you’re doing OK.
But, when uttered by a naive buffoon with a heart of gold, there’s something reassuring about this coach’s cornball quips. During those hazy, horrible Covid lockdowns, we needed comfort. We needed cosy nights on the couch. We needed bacon and donuts, trackpants and oversized hoodies, short walks and long naps. We needed homemade sourdough. What we didn’t know we needed was Ted Lasso. Yet we loved it. We loved it so much, Apple TV+ – then struggling to gain a streaming foothold against Netflix and Disney+ – scored its very first runaway hit.
It shouldn’t have worked. An American character from a series of NBC ads is bought by Apple and worked into a fully fledged character. He’s sent to the UK to manage a Premier League football team despite knowing nothing about the sport, then has a classic sitcom structure and a constant stream of quotables wrapped around him. But somehow, a hit was born.
Now, it’s ending. Season three, which begins this week, shows Ted Lasso is back at the top of its game after a dicey second season (and that Christmas episode). The first episode, Smells Like Mean Spirit, is delightfully funny and packed full of belly laughs, yet remains stupendously heartwarming. You feel for these characters. They give you a warm glow. There’s so much heart in Ted Lasso, but it’s also ridiculously weird. At one point, an entire football team is sent into London’s underground sewage system.
Yet these 12 episodes are the last. “This is the end of this story that we wanted to tell, that we were hoping to tell, that we loved to tell,” star Jason Sudeikis told Deadline this week. Rumours have it that, just like Lasso, Sudeikis isn’t much of a fan of decamping to the UK for long stretches of filming, taking him away from his kids.
Apple may beg to differ. Letting Lasso go now, just when the streaming service is finally on a roll, seems like an incredibly dumb thing to do. Apple has big shows coming, including Silo (looks great!), Extrapolations (Meryl Streep!), new seasons of For All Mankind (space!) and Severance (goats!), and whatever the hell this is. Netflix is struggling for the first time, and in May, big HBO hits Barry and Succession will end on the very same night. While it’s hard to see Apple TV+’s end game, there’s no denying there’s room for another streaming service to step up and dominate the void.
Apple needs an anchor for all that content, and Ted Lasso gives it that. It’s a show that delivers numbers. It brings in subs. And it’s really good! It balances the right amount of heart and humour, weirdness and stupidity, and it has a Michael Scott-style boss at the centre of it. Aside from The Office reruns, there’s no other show like it. Hell, there are barely any other comedies left to compare it to. He might be “cornier than Kevin Costner’s outfield” but letting this coach depart after three seasons seems like it won’t happen. Surely we haven’t seen the end of Ted Lasso and his bad gags just yet.
* Season three of Ted Lasso is available to stream through Apple TV+.
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Why you need to see: MH370: The Plane That Disappeared
What happened to MH370? Nine years on, the greatest aviation mystery of our time continues to confound: a red eye flight disappears, and so does everyone on board. It should be great fodder for a doco, but this Netflix three-parter spends far too much time chasing conspiracy theories than dealing with facts. Episode one is a timeline of what we know, and is the best of the bunch. By the time it got to Russian hackers supposedly flying the plane from a laptop in the cargo hold, my patience began to wear very thin. (On Netflix)
Why you need to see: Meet Me in the Bathroom
If you don’t get chills watching Karen O tear it up during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ very first live performance, you clearly weren’t around in the mid-2000s. Meet Me in the Bathroom is a documentary about the explosive wave of New York bands that took over the world told through expertly curated home videos. The footage they have here is incredible: behind the scenes of The Strokes’ first UK tour, LCD Soundsystem’s very first show… There are no talking heads, just voiceovers of scuzzy bands living up to their potential. I loved the shit out of this all-in rock doc. (In theatres now)
On the Spinoff: Mukpuddy on keep local animation alive for 20 years
Animation studio Mukpuddy creates cartoons that are loved around the world, and stand on the precipice of a monster global adaptation of Spike Milligan’s Badjelly the Witch. But this moment did not come easy, co-founders Ryan Cooper and Alex Leighton tell Duncan Greive in the latest episode of The Fold.
All the new stuff you can watch, right now…
The third and final season of Ted Lasso is this week’s big new release. If you want to remember why you watched it in the first place, it seems to be going out exactly as it came in: whimsically. If you’re reigniting your Apple TV+ subscription for that one, stick around for Extrapolations, a climate change sci-fi drama from Scott Z Burns (Contagion) with the best cast list in like forever? It goes on and on: Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Kit Harington, Daveed Diggs, Edward Norton, Tobey Maguire, Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Marion Cotillard and Forest Whitaker are all in this thing. Here’s the trailer…
Elsewhere, Netflix follows last week’s MH370 doco launch with another one. Money Shot: The Porn Hub Story story gets in behind who runs the world’s biggest porn site and finds a very dark side to it all. Amazon Prime has the first season of Donald Glover’s Swarm, a twisted horror about fandom gone very wrong that looks to be borrowing from Get Out and Them’s vibe and intensity.
Elsewhere, Gotham Knights is available for viewing from today but the reviews are awful, with many declaring it far too soapy (“It’s possible to dip into the Batcave once too often,” quipped a CNN wag). Apple TV+ debuts Monster Factory, a docuseries about pro wrestlers trying to make it into the big leagues. Black Books fans won’t want to miss Stuck (TVNZ+), Dylan Moran’s new couples comedy that, according to this five-star review from The Guardian, is “vintage Moran”.
If you’re heading out to theatres this weekend, Shazam: Fury of the Gods is this week’s big new superhero caper and while reviews have been embargoed until the last moment, many are predicting this will be a big hit. Meanwhile, Meet Me in the Bathroom is an excellent documentary about the rise of New York indie bands like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Warning: it also deals with the downsides of fame.
Everything you need to know…
Wondering how you can watch all the big Oscar-winning films like Everything Everywhere All At Once and All Quiet on the Western Front? Sam Brooks has some streaming links for you.
Wondering what really happened in that brutal finale for The Last of Us? We break down what it means, and how it compares to the 2013 video game, here.
Tara Ward watched Seven Sharp and Married at First Sight and has reason to believe they’re exactly the same shows. Her arguments are solid!
Quentin Tarantino is readying his final film.
Here’s the first trailer for the fourth and final season of Barry (sniff!).
And finally, some talking points…
It’s so bonkers that in this day and age a big budget film starring bonafide A-listers can make its way onto a streaming service and be completely missed by everyone. I recently stumbled upon The Pale Blue Eye (Netflix), a dark murder mystery caper starring Christian Bale and Gillian Anderson, and kind of loved it. I also just finished Poker Face and wow that really picked up in its last couple of episodes. I’m still buzzing about the orgy of carnage that is John Wick 4. More on that next week…
That’s it for Rec Room for this week. If you liked what you read, why not share Rec Room with your friends and whānau.