The new AppleTV+ comedy series “Ted Lasso” (premiering Friday August 14th) comes from “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence. It’s based on a series of NBC Sports promotional segments starring Jason Sudeikis as the title character. Now, you’re probably wondering a few things:
Can you really take a character from short videos and make an entire, worthwhile 10-episode season out of him?
Haven’t there been enough TV sports comedies lately?
And how did a show based on an NBC character that’s also produced by Warner Bros. Television not end-up on Peacock or HBO Max?
Well, to my surprise (based on the first three episodes I screened), the “Ted Lasso” show amounts to a great deal. It’s also WAY better than “Brockmire” and “Ballers”, and AppleTV+ should be grateful to have it.
This is the best thing Sudeikis has ever done. His Ted Lasso is an upbeat, energetic, go-getting former college football coach who heads with his assistant across the pond to coach a Champions League soccer team. You think that the characters we meet in the first episode (including the team’s owner, her assistant, the ball boy, the aging athlete and the cocky star player) are going to be one-dimensional and stereotypical.
But they’re just not. And their interactions with Lasso (who’s got some layers of his own) make for consistently good entertainment. Sudeikis is terrific with the clever wordplay dialogue and delivery timing. He also gets to show a rare dramatic side in the Pilot’s quite good final scene.
Another standout is Juno Temple as the star player’s girlfriend, who’s also a complete 180 of what you might expect. That’s what Lawrence does with “Ted Lasso”: he takes you down some familiar paths but is able to pack-in scenes we really haven’t seen before. Not all the jokes land, but they don’t need to when there’s such a positive spirit throughout.
In the third episode, Lasso is followed around by local sports journalist Trent Crimm (played by James Lance), who jabs Lasso a little bit at press conferences). This entire storyline is filled with rich, authentic details and a satisfying conclusion.
I hope the next seven episodes of “Ted Lasso” live-up to the first three. As of now, I’d say AppleTV+ has its first true live-action comedy series winner.