Happy New Year and welcome to Sport on the Silver Screen. In this series, I will be looking back over sports movies and series that I have recently watched/re-watched and giving my thoughts on them. Getting into the Schmoedown and starting to follow a number of the personalities from the show has given me a much greater appreciation of movies and seen me starting to watch more, while a resolution for 2022 has also seen me making a resolution to watch more series.
Being a fan of both movies and sports, I have taken the chance to start highlighting the sheer volume of sports movies out there, while also now throwing in the occasional series. In each article I will be giving some details about the movie/series and then a quick review, including a section giving a sports fan’s perspective of the action’s realism.
This series has been heavily influenced by Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai of Action Industries, but I will not be looking at the traditional “Fist-pump moment” and “Favourite line” sections due to just how much more content a series provides compared to a movie, instead talking about the prospects for the future of the show. Be aware, there will be spoilers, but I will try to keep them to a minimum.
Back at the start of 2022 I reviewed the first season of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, now I open up the new year with a look back at season 2.
Released in 2022
Distribution (UK) Disney+
Starring Lauren Graham, Brady Noon, Josh Duhamel, Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia
Synopsis When the Mighty Ducks are accidentally invited to an elite summer performance camp in California, they must try to find the balance between fitting in and having fun, while Evan Morrow finds his relationships tested as he looks to prove himself worthy of recognition from the camp’s creator and further his hockey career.
“If season 1 has set the show up well, season 2 feels crucial right now for the longevity of the series.”
That’s how I finished my review of season 1 and look ahead to season 2. Season 1 did a great job of establishing the characters and the team, but the loss of Emilio Estevez (reportedly due to creative differences and a contract dispute) had me worried. Well my fears were proved true: this season lacked the Bombay/Ducks magic.
It very much felt like the writers knew that they wanted Estevez back too, as rather than just carry on by going into the next season, the show was put into a holding pattern by sending them away from Minnesota and to a summer camp in California, allowing them to conveniently explain away Bombay’s absence while leaving the door very much open for a season 3 return. But what it also did was press the reset button, as it went from the Ducks having just proved themselves as the top teamin the district to being the zeroes at the camp, while the characters also appeared to reset to a degree (at least those who appeared, some of the Ducks mysteriously disappeared with no explanation), with Evan once again trying to balance his friendships with the allure of playing for a better team to learn from a better head coach, Alex back to focusing on fun rather than hockey, while Sofi felt like about the only player who continued to progress from last season as she looked to build on her new freedom and reduced responsibility. Meanwhile, it felt like may of the other Ducks were just left for schtick as focus was given to new characters, notably Josh Duhamel’s Coach Cole, Naveen Paddock as Jace Cole and Connor DeWolfe (who you may know from his Tik Toks about his ADHD) as A.J. Lawrence and a host of other supporting characters who are likely to be one-and-done due to the summer cam setting.
Even more disappointing was the lack of historic Duck presence, surely again impacted by COVID affecting filming, as we were left with a blink and you’ll miss it cameo from Fulton Reed and Dean Portman in the opening minutes of the first episode—honestly it was just thrown in there in such a way, my brain didn’t even click that the character with Fulton was Portman until their scene was already over! To make it worse, the series even feels like it is setting up another historic Ducks appearance towards the end of the season to get the new team firing, but it instead ends up with a random nobody telling and showing Alex how the Ducks found their own way to play. Maybe for an audience new to the series it works, but for someone who grew up on the trilogy of movies, this was disappointing.
However it wasn’t all negatives. The games of ice hockey were pretty good (on the rare occasions we got some), and there were some fun moments, while Rich Eisen being the commentator for the matches was a real highlight for me. But to me, the best bit of the series was the story of the Coles and the arc that father and son went on. Yes it was a bit ham-fisted at times and ace’s character grated for a little in the third quarter of the show, but everything ame good and we got a beautiful emotional resolution to their arc. I hope the pair do return in the future, though I’m not sure how it would work.
A few final thoughts on the series:
- A quick scene that hinted at a potential missed romance for Nick felt completely out of place. I don’t know if I’m as oblivious as him, but I saw nothing during the 2 seasons that had hinted to that being a possibility.
- The final 2 episodes saw the return of a character from season 1 that made no sense at all given that there is only meant to be a couple of months between the 2 series, and I don’t even understand the need for it as a new character would have worked equally well.
As of the time of writing, a third season has not been announced, but I would be shocked if Disney does not continue with this franchise at least for 1 more series.
And if it gets that chance, it needs to start moving forward. To me, this show needs Estevez to return, but if that can’t be worked out, the show needs to confidently move forward without him, and an ideal world then would probably see Joshua Jackson return as Charlie Conway to fill the Estevez/Duhamel spot, or at least see more inclusion of the historic Ducks.
The kids are at that perfect age to look at so many personal storylines. We’ve already had one romance within the team, and I think tha romance and sex and puberty could become even more prevalent in the stories as the players go through their teens, while they can also have other pressures associated with growing up in your teens. Similarly with a racially diverse cast and some LGBTQ+ relationships already set up, the show could also look to address important issues like racism and homophobia. But there is also an opportunity here to put the Ducks in a position that we have never really seen them in before: on the top of the pile; the hunted rather than the hunter. For this we would need to see an improvement in Alex’s character to become a better coach, bu could lead to some great situations, as wins would be expected now, but personal issues or on-ice issues (such as a return of Sofi’s knee injury) could cause the team to lose.
For me, there are enough opportunities for a season 3, especially considering the issues that the cast and crew had to contend with for season 2. But season 3 now feels like it could be make or break for the franchise.
What did you think of this series? Let me know in the comments. Until next time!
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