As the Apple TV+ show adds dramatic elements to its signature light-hearted comedy, exploring the themes that come with studying the psyche of its titular soccer coach and those around him has led to episode lengths stretching for almost an hour. The shortest episode of this season so far is the first, which clocks in at 43 minutes. For series co-creator Brendan Hunt, who also plays Coach Beard, the decision to make episodes longer came organically.
“It wasn’t that conscious of a decision,” Hunt told TheWrap ahead of the release of Episode 7 (which runs at 57 minutes.) “We just kept writing the stories that we wanted to tell, and Apple didn’t seem to mind if they were longer than expected.
“It’s a great luxury, and it comes from being on a streaming service, and especially a streaming service that doesn’t mind taking a chance or two. We were just going with the flow really.”
Hunt noted that the show’s more dramatic change in tone began in Season 2, when it first started introducing darker themes surrounding Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) issues with panic attacks and Nate Shelley’s (Nick Mohammed) villainous turn. Perhaps not coincidentally, the series hasn’t released an episode under 42 minutes long since the eighth episode of Season 2.
Hunt himself wrote the show’s longest episode of the show to date — Season 3, Episode 6, titled “Sunflowers,” featuring the team’s adventures in Amsterdam — running at one hour and three minutes.
“It’s wonderfully liberating really,” Hunt said, commenting on the benefits of writing for a show on a streaming service like Apple. “To be able to let the story decide [how long it needs to be] is a wonderful luxury and we don’t take it lightly.”
In talking about Episode 6, Hunt said the episode paid tribute to his own time living in Amsterdam. The hour felt almost like a big bottle episode, where most characters got their chance to experience what their temporary surroundings had to offer.
But Beard’s own storyline didn’t get time in the spotlight this time around, as viewers only got a glimpse of what his experience in the city was like when he got back to the team bus in a “Piggy Stardust” costume.
“The Beard storyline was the last to really get decided of the episode. Everything else was in place, but we weren’t quite sure what to do with Beard,” Hunt said. “Would Beard go on his own adventure and try to find his old flame in Amsterdam — but it fell too closely with what was going on with Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). Would Beard and Ted take mushrooms together and go out on the town? But that didn’t seem right for Ted’s journey.”
So Hunt sidelined himself.
“So in the end, it was just ‘Alright, Beard’s gotta go away. And when he comes back, we know that some crazy-ass Beard stuff happened. How best to convey that? Oh, here we go. David Bowie costume.’”
Hunt added there were no other Beard scenes left on the cutting room floor. He credited Season 2’s “Beard After Hours” as the perfect setup for audiences to know the character had a wild night without having to show it.
“When you add the Bowie costume and the pig nose. I mean, I think it’s perfectly clear what happened,” Hunt said.
With Episode 7 released Wednesday, the Apple TV+ comedy is officially beyond the midpoint of what could end up being its final season. It’s unclear when a decision on the fate of the show will arrive, but series star Brett Goldstein previously told TheWrap he’ll be devastated if this is the end.
“I really, really love the show, really care about these characters and I love the people,” he told TheWrap in an interview ahead of the Season 3 premiere. “You wonder if it’s a once in a lifetime thing where it’s such a good group of people to spend your days with. Every day you’re like ‘this is nice isn’t it, that we all get to hang out and make this thing.’ I’ll miss all of it.”
“Ted Lasso” Season 3 airs new episodes Wednesdays on Apple TV+.