An Unwelcome Detour
After the crushing defeat at the semifinal match at Wembley Stadium, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) decides to head back home on his own and spends a night out on the town.
A catastrophe of epic proportions.Coach Beard
I couldn’t have said it better myself, Coach Beard. What a weird, terrible episode that was. This wasn’t just a bad episode of Ted Lasso, this was a bad episode of television as a whole. We just made so much progress on major storylines in the previous episode, and none of it was even referenced in “Beard After Hours.” Heck, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) and Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) were only in the final three minutes and there was no Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), Keeley (Juno Temple) nor Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster).
I will say, the fact that Ted, after going through what he went through in the previous episode, went home and edited the game film to make it 10x speed and play over the Benny Hill theme song just to make the other coaches laugh and take their minds off the crushing defeat they just experienced is so perfectly in character and something that shouldn’t be glossed over.
In television and film, there is a bad tendency to take something that works in really small doses and try and make it a bigger deal than it is. I call it the Jack Sparrow/Mater effect. Let me explain.
In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is more of a secondary character to Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner and Keira Knightly’s Elizabeth Swann. His performance in that movie is widely regarded as one of his best and the character of Jack Sparrow quickly became one of the most iconic characters in film following the debut of The Curse of the Black Pearl. Critics and audiences alike loved his performance so much–he was even nominated for an Oscar–that the studio decided to make him the centerpiece of the next four films. This was a huge mistake. Jack Sparrow’s schtick and charm works best when it is relegated to the sidelines, operating more as a breath of fresh air to the primary storyline of the film. However, when you make him the main character, it gets old and isn’t as fun to watch.
The same thing happened with the Pixar film, Cars. The first film in the series was a charming look at the differences between Lightning McQueen’s racecar life and the quiet sleepy town of Radiator Springs. Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) was a charming, loveable secondary character in that film, but once again was so beloved by audiences that the studio decided to make him the star of the second film, and what an absolute mess Cars 2 was.
It’s happened time and time again. “Hey, audiences really love this character. Let’s focus just on him for an entire movie or episode!” There is a reason why characters like this work on the fringes of stories, and the truth about those characters is never quite as interesting as our own imaginations make them out to be.
Imagine, for a moment, if this episode never happened, and the next episode started with Coach Beard showing up at the stadium the next day with a black eye and sparkly pants and no one comments on it. That would have been perfectly in character and hilarious. Instead, we were forced to watch 40-odd minutes of weird, joyless television. That’s something I NEVER thought I would use to describe an episode of Ted Lasso: joyless. But that’s exactly what this episode was. I think that was by design, but that just isn’t what this show is about.
That’s not to say that this episode was completely devoid good parts, however. The scene in the gentlemen’s club where Coach Beard pretended to be a retired professor was a highlight, as was the scene at Nelson Road where Coach Beard’s companions got to play around on the pitch. Additionally, the direction in this episode was on point. There are several beautiful shots throughout the run time that quite honestly took my breath away. Two stand-out scenes and some excellent camera work do not make up for the sins of this episode, however.
It is always a gamble to pause the momentum of a season to tell a self-contained story. Ted Lasso did it earlier in the season with the excellent “Carol of the Bells” Christmas episode; but the reason why that episode worked when this one didn’t was because the Christmas episode didn’t forget what Ted Lasso is really about. Ted Lasso is a show about optimism and helping those around you be the best versions of themselves, something the Christmas episode never lost sight of. “Beard After Hours”, however, felt like it came from a completely different television show. If you are going to disrupt the momentum of the story, it better be a detour worth taking. This episode was not a detour worth taking, and here’s hoping there aren’t any more unexpected turns moving forward.
Mark Pereira is an associate writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.