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Several second seasons

Published April 29, 2022

The number two in a circle, with overlaid stripe colours

Recently, I seem to have watched a lot of second series of things, either because they’ve just been released with much fanfare, or because I’ve done a bit of a catchup. Four of the shows I’ve watched recently have all had second series’ that differ quite significantly from their first, and it’s been very interesting to watch them myself and also see the reaction to them in the wider world. I thought I’d put my own thoughts down on paper (digital screen paper, obviously):

Space Force

The first series of this was a quirky and ambitious comedy, featuring Steve Carell and John Malkovich heading up a team of military personnel and scientists aiming to get astronauts back on the moon. It came out of a particular time in the US administration, and had some hilarious moments alongside oddness. Rockets blew up, there was an astronaut standoff in space, Lisa Kudrow was a convict ex-wife on the run in a helicopter.

The second series had a serious tone shift, from ambitious space show to the more traditional workplace sitcom - but where I use the word traditional, do not read mundane. It was hilarious, perhaps even better than the first series from that point of view, some great character development and excellent quips. Plus, Ben Schwartz, who is my current favourite human, absolutely stole the show - particularly in the episode where he was denied access to his phone. Brilliant.

Russian Doll

Again, the first series of this was something unique - the wonderful Natasha Lyonne in an exaggerated version of herself, caught in a time loop that ends in her death and reawakening on her birthday over and over again. It’s no secret that I love a time travel story so this appealed to me on many levels. And it was brilliant.

The second series was different, and it’s not necessarily gone down quite as well. It took quite a long time to arrive and has a different central idea - this is not so much time loop as time-travelling train travel (similar to Last Train to Christmas), and I wasn’t really sure what the point was… I quite enjoyed what I was watching as I watched it but it was so disappointing that Nadia and Alan spent so little time together. Alan’s story seemed to arrive and disappear and have little effect on anything at all.

It was always going to be a difficult series to bring back and unfortunately, I think it’s one of those that might have done better as a single series show.

Bridgerton

There was so much hype about this second series, I think it almost managed to live up to. I felt there was a bit of deflation now knowing who Lady Whistledown is, there was a whole mystery element no longer in existence. It also was toned down in some of the explicit scenes, which is fine but a change, to my mind. But the things it does well - the wonderful costumes, the bright outlook, the fantastic music adaptations… you can’t go wrong, really.

It was interesting to me that the Duke, who was a central part of series 1, was only mentioned a couple of times and never seen. The actor has effectively been dismissed from the Bridgerton universe for now. And then couple that with our new heroine Kate, whose actress is ready to concentrate fully on Bridgerton-land to the expense of other shows. I guess she’s read all the books and knows what’s going to happen next?

Upload

I don’t think there was a big kerfuffle about this show for either the first or second series, but I stumbled across it and really enjoyed it. The concept of a personality being uploaded to a digital life after the human body dies isn’t new, but it was a good futuristic comedy-drama with two good leads and lots of twists and turns and an underlying mystery along the way. Fun. The second series suffered from that problem where the two main characters were separated for too long. It was still good and managed to continue the repercussions of the first series without feeling contrived, but I missed the banter from the first.

There’s that phrase about the difficult second album but I think the difficult second season needs to be included too. It’s hard to replicate the success of a first series, especially if there was no bigger plan for multiple series’ to tell the story. But it can be done and done well, and that’s why we just keep on watching!

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