Sometimes I watch these shows while riding my stationary bicycle. That necessitates putting close captioning on unless I want to really blast the sound and possibly disturb my neighbors. Disturbing folks isn’t cool, but then I noticed something: I understood a lot more of what the characters on this show were saying, particularly Keeley. Between my tinnitus and the thick English accents of all sorts, I think I probably missed, like, half the jokes.
And somehow I still enjoyed the show.
Actually, this episode made me think of something, basically a line from Trent, about how this episode and this show as a whole possibly operates. Ted, Coach Beard, and Roy present the “Total Football” concept to the team, something Jamie actually already knows because he played that style on a previous team. Ted says there are four things that the team needs to know that will pull the whole thing off, but he can only name three of them. He says he’ll think of the fourth later. When Trent asks what the fourth thing is, Ted doesn’t know, Beard claims to be an agnostic/atheist, and Roy just growls profanity. Later on, Trent comes along with the theory that Ted’s general decent nature uses small gestures and moments to build trust with the team and leads to success. Sure, both Ted and Beard seem to blow that idea off, but is there something to that in the show itself?
I think there might be. Nate’s whole thing for this episode is asking Jade, the Taste of Athens hostess, out on a date, and since Nate is a nervous guy who isn’t really one for grand gestures, he settles for something small and simple, an idea that comes from a combination of his sister’s birthday gift and what his father did to introduce himself to his mother. It does get Nate that date, but he also drops the gift in the street, leading to its getting crushed.
Meanwhile, there’s just these small things happening all over the place. To get the team used to switching positions, Beard even switches places with Will the kit man, and Beard is a master of handing out water bottles. Roy shouts “Whistle!” because he’s allergic to metal and can’t blow one, and Ted’s offer to get him a plastic one is essentially ignored. Roy even growls when he listens to Ted’s lame jokes and doesn’t object to the various nicknames Ted gives him, all while wondering what happened to make the great Roy Kent act that way.
Then again, Roy’s idea to teach better unity involves tying strings to the other players’ genitals. That…that’s a painful joke that just got more and more painful.
But this is still an episode where Will takes Beard’s seat until Beard comes back, Roy has Jamie pull him through the neighborhood on a bike (nice callback to Amsterdam), frequent shots of the different shops opening up for the day, and Ted’s invite for the fans to come watch practice, a small moment that just gets bigger as more and more fans show up to watch.
Oh, and Nonso Anozie from Game of Thrones and Sweet Tooth pops up as Sam’s father, and I thought, “That’s some really good casting right there.”
Of course, Trent may have a point when, during a game that’s going badly, Jamie points out what the team is doing wrong by not really using him in the Total Football scheme, a simple change is made, and they finally score a goal.
So, is Trent right? About the team, maybe, but it sure does work for the show itself.