Back in the depths of the 2020 lockdown Ted Lasso’s first season felt like a tsunami of goodness amid all the death and despair.
A true word-of-mouth success, the AppleTV+ comedy has returned for second season and I’m pleased to report it’s just as good, if not better, than the first.
For those who haven’t succumbed to the feelgood delights of the unashamedly optimistic show, Jason Sudeikis plays the US coach transplanted from Kansas to England to lead the struggling Premier League team, AFC Richmond.
In the first series his appointment was a devious plot by club co-owner Rebecca Welton to scupper the team, but over the course of the season she grew to love Ted’s folksy life lessons (“Takin’ on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong”) and left-field team talks (“Your body is like day-old rice. If it ain’t warmed up properly, something real bad could happen”).
Get swept along and fall in love once again with the most feelgood show on television.”
Although the second season sets up some conflict for Ted in the form of Dr Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles), a sports psychologist brought in to help the team overcome a seven-game stretch of only draws, it deepens our understanding of what makes Ted tick and shows the hidden costs having such a positive persona when the world around you can be so trying.
As someone who is clinically averse to cheesiness and schmaltz, I’m hyper-aware of the fine balancing act that Ted Lasso walks. Remarkably though, it almost never puts a foot wrong.
Whereas some (British?) shows might find irony in Ted’s warmhearted and optimistic outlook on life, Ted Lasso never mocks him for it.
Even the most cynical viewer – ie me – can’t fail to get swept along and fall in love once again with the most feelgood show on television.
Ben Miller as Professor T
New crime-solver is a hodgepodge of quirks
As I was watching Professor T, the ITV remake of the Belgian crime drama, I was taken aback by just how unapologetically it stitched together parts of other detective shows.
Other TV series only have the nerve to give their titular crime-solver one quirky bit of behaviour, but Professor T (played by Ben Miller, and not related to The A-Team’s Mr, as far as I’m aware) is a veritable smorgasbord of personality traits that have been nicked from other, far better, shows.
He’s an OCD-suffering (Monk) misanthropic (House) genius (Sherlock) with a dark back story (every crime show going) who butts heads with authority at every turn (ditto) and who solves crime against the backdrop of an Oxbridge uni campus (Morse).
Telly at its laziest.
Overcooked and underwhelming
ITV’s Cooking With The Stars is not just a celebrity cooking contest – it’s an M&S celebrity cooking contest.
As soon as you see the P logo after the credits you know you’re going to see some product placement, but it doesn’t get more blatant than this.
Host Emma Willis refers to the dishes as “M&S” dishes, pots and pans are emblazoned with the M&S logo and there’s even plastic tubs of food products propped up on the worktops to remind viewers where they can get the ingredients.
I understand that product placement is here to stay, but Cooking With The Stars feels like an hour-long advert rather than a proper show. It’s too much.
A fascinating glimpse of a secret world
Given the sensitivity and secrecy involved, it never ceases to amaze me the level of access granted to camera crews by police forces.
Taken: Hunting The Sex Traffickers (Channel 4) was the latest show to lift the lid on undercover work to tackle organised crime and was packed with moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie.
Only one episode aired this week, but I devoured the lot on All 4.
Movie of the week: Nobody (available to stream online)
When it comes to action heroes, I mean no offence when I say that Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk wouldn’t be my first choice.
But then again, I didn’t think the star of Schindler’s List would be an action hero either, and look how Liam Neeson’s career turned out.
Actually, it’s Odenkirk’s inappropriateness that makes Nobody such a joy.
He plays everyman Hutch Mansell, who is stuck in a monotonous job and considered a weakling by his family after he lets a couple of burglars go when they break into his home.
But that event reignites something within him and soon he’s on a rampage of revenge, battling Russian gangsters and his own past.
While Liam Neeson action films are annoyingly straight-faced, Nobody is delightfully tongue-in-cheek.
Turns out, Odenkirk is the perfect action hero – and one I’d love to see again in the inevitable sequel.