We are on Lockdown.
No socialising. No public gatherings. No sport.
For some of you, Lockdown may represent something akin to Christmas, i.e. spending way too much time in the company of loved ones, leading to simmering tensions, leading to declarations of war.
For the rest of us, Lockdown means something bigger. It means going on a journey that very few have ever undertaken. It means binge-watching Dream Team.
Will we be entertained? Possibly. Will we go certifiably insane? Definitely.
READER’S NOTE: I am not here to re-watch Dream Team, or re-acquaint myself with the television show. I have never seen it, and shall be reporting on my findings as if I am blazing a trail, getting the first ever look of this hip new show.
The first rule of Lockdown is to ease yourself into Lockdown, so today’s viewing involves just one episode of Dream Team (Season 1, Episode 1) because - let me be very clear about this - one episode of twists and turns is enough for one day.
I don’t mean twists and turns in the suspenseful narrative sort of way. I mean twists and turns in the RON FUCKING ATKINSON is Harchester United manager sort of way.
Why has no one ever told me about this before? Why did the biggest managerial appointment in the history of football slip by my radar? Wikipedia has a lot to answer for here, with no mention of Harchester in Atkinson’s “teams managed” section.
“Get your hand in your pocket chairman, or we’re going down!” is Atkinson’s “Here’s looking at you, kid” moment in this episode. He plays the role of Angry Football Manager so very well and his performance deserves a BAFTA. You don’t get picked up by Celebrity Big Brother producers for being talentless, you know.
Atkinson’s tirade is directed at the chairman of the club after Harchester are beaten in the Coca-Cola Cup by a Chelsea team with Zola, Di Matteo and Mark Hughes. You can see why he wants more money. His team is made up entirely of fictitious players. Chelsea have real-life legends of British football.
It appears the fictitious Dean Hocknell is the de facto main character of Dream Team. He is the youth team captain who gets his senior debut in this game against Chelsea. We meet him for the first time as he is wandering around the stands of the stadium on his own. Quite why he has shown up to the game hours before his teammates is unclear, but here we are.
The diligence does Hocknell no harm, as he scores a consolation goal to mark his debut, and what better way to mark a debut goal than a night on the tiles with the boys at Studs Nightclub?
“We lost, but I’m feeling supersonic!!” Hocknell announces to his teammates. This can be taken as one of two things:
1. The clunkiest, most awful Oasis reference ever shoehorned into a sentence.
2. A genuine use of the word “supersonic” to describe one’s emotions, which is just weird.
Hocknell’s evening is uneventful*. He calls it a night early. His girlfriend shows up to find that her other half is a sensible soul, and has gone to rest his tired body.
*Not uneventful at all - Hocknell has run off with a young one!
Here’s what actually happens: Hocknell’s supersonic tendencies go too far this time. After chatting to a woman at the bar, he feels the full force of his Harchester United Pull and they go off home together in a taxi before his girlfriend arrives on the scene.
So, bearing in mind Dean Hocknell is now about to cheat on his other half, does he:
A. Tell the taxi to drop them off at his place
B. Tell the taxi to drop them off at her place
C. Tell the taxi to drop them off at Harchester United Football Club (Wait, what?)
This is the strangest universe of decision-making we've ever witnessed, so option C it is, and the newly-acquainted lovebirds go straight off to the Boardroom (!) , where Hocknell sips some whiskey and gets ready to regret his life choices.
Now, I don't want to come across as preachy to Dean Hocknell here, but bringing a partner back to the boardroom of the football club for which you have made one senior appearance is possibly not the most sensible course of action. But maybe, I'm just a complete and utter bore.
Before the pilot (was this a pilot? ‘Pilot’ would suggest this episode had to be approved before the rest of season one slipped through the cracks) episode wraps, we are shown the scene from the security room. A man is sitting there watching CCTV, seeing the raunchy scenes unfold in the boardroom. He clicks record on a VCR player.
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you end an episode of television. Nothing like a good dollop of creepy voyeurism to provide a sense of fear and intrigue about what episode two has in store.
I went into Dream Team expecting it to be a crap TV show loosely connected to football. It turns out it is a crap TV show, loosely connected to football, but with a load of bonus weird things happening in it. Am I already hooked? God yes.
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