Scott Ellington's Blog

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Ted Lasso

Like Friday Night Lights, it’s an engaging television show that is NOT about football. Nor futbol. I’m not sure what it’s about, but I’ve noticed something interesting. Sherlock introduced me to text messages on tiny little smartphone screens WAY BACK in 2010 in novel and interesting ways that moved the story swiftly forward while I sat back and marveled at the intelligence that imparted information so very well.

In 2023, Ted Lasso also relies on text messages on tiny phone screens, but the text isn’t legible to me unless I use my remote control to pause the forward progress of the show, lean forward and cock my head (because the smartphone screen will always be canted off-axis to disturb my viewing pleasure). The text will always be too small for me to read. The text will always be presented too briefly for me to read. Thirteen years ago, Sherlock got this text message thing right. Ted Lasso gets it wrong, like unintelligent design and devolution.

Ted Lasso also gets English wrong. True, there are eleven players on a futbol team, but this show isn’t about the sport, and most of the players aren’t featured actors. The team is a chorus of slightly familiar faces and attitudes and quirks, but the central cast is quite large and EACH of them speaks English with a different accent, many of which are English, but Nigerian, Dutch, German and South American accents also require decipherment. In fact, the only two American characters, Ted and Beard speak with similar midwestern lilts reminiscent of Friday Night Lights, but everyone else warrants the use of a Secret Decoder Ring to debug their particular flavor of blither — because they all speak very fast and at volume levels that are dissimilar to one another. I’ve modified my AppleTV remote control so that I can find the stupidly-camouflaged control buttons in the dark, but my modifications don’t account for the variations in volume between undiaphragmatic muttering and screams of fans and special effects and a musical score that pops up on odd occasions to manipulate and obscure dialogue. Nor is there a consistent and reliable result when I trust my remote control to take me back ten seconds to replay the text message I didn’t understand whether the platform I’m watching is NetFlix, Max or Apple+ on my AppleTV distribution system…because the remote control behaves differently from one platform to the next.

Unlike Friday Night Lights and Sherlock, people don’t get crippled nor murdered on Ted Lasso. It’s a show about…

actually. I’m not at all sure what it’s about, and the harder they make it to follow the several trivial soap-opera narratives about who likes who and whether X will ask Y to the big dance and so on, the less I care, season over season. And the disturbing thing is that Ted Lasso is a big award-winning success among the current crop of television shows and movies about nothing much. I guess this show is a triumphant victory of style over substance, communication and other things of greater importance. There’s an awful lot of that in progress now that most of the overwhelming mass of recorded entertainment is accessible (unlike the way it’s always been [preVHS]) tons of schlock has to be sampled and spurned before tasty entertainments can be discovered and enjoyed. There are no reliable indicators. No red flags warn against garbage, and it’s taken me three seasons to smell pointless garbage seeping out of Ted Lasso.

Subtitles are a mixed blessing that draw the eye away from a few key channels of information actors use to inflect story. I’ve resorted to subtitles since the 90s, when Mutant Enemy put delightful words and ideas into the mouths of young people whose elocution lessons got skipped or taken by sound engineers who failed to use them. So, it’s not just getting old that prompts me to whine like this. It’s actually a valid shortfall Strother Martin recognized in1967 and articulated in Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here…is failure to commun’cate.” And it truly is. worse.

28 Apr 23 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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