Review by Sean Boelman
Ted Lasso is one of the jewels in Apple TV+’s crown, so it’s intriguing to see that they played with the formula this time around. Something is certainly askew in this new season, and while it is yet to be determined if this is for the better, it has to be admired for taking such an ambitious swing.
One of the things that makes this season stand out from prior entries is that it has a darker tone. Although the darker undercurrents — like Ted’s divorce and panic attacks — always served to ground the show, they really take center stage this time around. When coupled with the new storyline of the rivalry between Ted and Nate (teased in the last moments of season two), this season has an almost cynical feel to it.
The show picks up with AFC Richmond having been promoted to the Premier League, and are facing the challenges that come with playing at a higher level. Whereas season two was an inspiring redemption arc as the team struggled to regain their position, this one is more anxiety-inducing, as they worry about trying to live up to their image.
It’s interesting how the show has evolved from a half-hour comedy to what is now effectively an hour-long drama with comedic elements. As one would expect, there’s plenty of drama both on and off the pitch, and these first four episodes are mostly planting the seeds for the conflict to come to a head throughout the rest of the season.
The most compelling character arc in the season is that of Nate, but of the first four episodes, he only features prominently in two. Obviously, we get to see more from Ted, Rebecca, Roy, and Keeley, but — for better or worse — it simply feels like a continuation of the conflict we saw explored very similarly in previous seasons.
Of course, the returning cast is still firing on all cylinders — Jason Sudekis, Nick Mohammed, Brett Goldstein, and Hannah Waddingham are all top-notch — but this season is missing memorable newcomers. There’s a new diva player meant to threaten Phil Dunster’s Jamie Tartt, much as he did to Goldstein’s Roy Kent in season one, but the actor who plays him isn’t all that impressive.
The first four episodes of the new season don’t contain a ton in the way of soccer scenes, but those soccer scenes are quite great. Soccer is an extremely fast-paced and difficult-to-follow sport, but the makers of this show know how to shoot them in a way that is consistently engaging and exciting.
The new season of Ted Lasso takes the show in a unique new tonal direction, and it will be fascinating to see if this ambitious choice pays off. Still, it’s the very definition of a crowd-pleaser, and fans will be overjoyed to see more of the AFC Richmond team.
Ted Lasso streams on Apple TV+ beginning March 15. Four out of twelve episodes reviewed.
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