Judge David Johnson is taking a nap, so there will be no witty blurb today.
Is this season a touchdown? Or…a football term that means the opposite of "touchdown," but in a bad way?
You want more Bill Fagerbakke? I've got your Fagerbakke right here!
Facts of the Case
Following the abbreviated inaugural set of episodes, the second season of Coach returns with a larger rollout of 20 episodes. Some of the major plot points deal Hayden Fox's (Craig T. Nelson, The Incredibles) dealing with his daughter Kelly (Clare Carey) and her befuddling relationship with wispy theater major Stuart (Kris Kamm), assistant coach and everlasting student Dauber (Fagerbakke), best friend Luther (Jerry Van Dyke) and his parrot and his topsy-turvy relationship with Christine (Shelley Fabares).
Twenty episodes of jock-strap-wielding high jinks!
Yeah, I'm not feeling this season so much. I remember enjoying Coach when it was on the air, but my nostalgia has been steamrolled by the reality of languishing through this set with only a soft laugh every 30 yards. In short, football fans, this one deserves to be benched.
What agitated me most was the "main storylines," by which I mean of course "TV death." One of the major arcs is Kelly and Stuart's romance, which quickly turns to a marriage within the span of a very special two-part episode. On paper the idea of a the daughter of a burly jock guy dating a sensitive, slightly effeminate wannabe stage actor may seem plum for a chortle or two, but this gag grew tired in the home stretch of last season, which I might add, totaled a paltry 13 episodes. The main problems are the characters: Stuart and Kelly are ultra-dull. Stuart is only mildly funny when juxtaposed with Hayden's macho braying and Kelly, one of the major components of the show, was—in this season—reduced to a shrill defender of Stuart's. How many times did Clare Carey scream "Dadddd!!!!" I have no idea, but it was a lot. Like the number of hairs in Robin-Williams'-bathtub-drain-plug a lot. Add to that, Carey was given DOA lines and isn't that great a comedic actor to begin with. Unfortunately, when this lame plotline comprises nearly a majority of the episodes, everyone suffers. Seriously, I was hearing pity laughs from the studio audience throughout.
The other narrative is the ongoing Hayden/Christine relationship. Again, I see the theoretical appeal of throwing together two people that are completely different from each other (the classy, cultured Christine versus bull-in-a-china-shop Hayden), but in practice, the construct generated few laughs. Fabares is okay, but her character is also boring and the predictability of Christine getting mad at something Hayden does and Hayden rectifying the situation in an interminable five minute end scene before the closing credits just bled my attention span. The few episodes where the relationship picked up steam featured Christine in a more comical position, e.g. "I Have a Secret" where she blows the news of a major recruit Hayden's about to land in his program. Fabares is lithe when given legitimately funny material, versus being pigeon-holed in the quasi-matriarchal role.
Craig T. Nelson is the centerpiece of the show, and he's definitely has the chops to carry the bulk of the comedy. He tends to oversell his shtick sometimes, but usually the guy is on his game. The show is funniest when we see him interact with his dim, but charming, coaching staff, Luther and Dauber. These three have significantly better comic chemistry than any other Hayden relationship.
In the end, I just can't recommend this season, simply because it's not very funny. Like any popular sitcom—and this sucker ran for a long time—with a good pedigree, there are laughs to be found. Too bad you have to endure miles of tedium and dead-ending plot to find them.
Universal's release is strictly economy-class: the full-frame video is no-frills, and suffered from numerous transfer flaws and the mono soundtrack is not awe-inducing.
Maybe the show gets funnier? It has to. I remember liking it. I couldn't have been that stupid when I was younger, right?
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