‘A Season With Notre Dame’ – Episode one recap
Miko Malabute | Thursday, September 10, 2015
“A Season With Notre Dame” premiered on the Showtime network this past Tuesday, leaving viewers — fans and foes — purring for more. Going into the season premiere, I held my own reservations about the show: Would it try to be too much in the likeness of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series? Would we see enough of the players on and off the field? Would we even get to see all of the players, or would it just be the stars on the squad? Lo and behold, the 30-minute premiere kicked off what is sure to be a smash-hit season covering this year’s squad.
First off, there is something to be said in how this series is “only” TV-14. The language was mild, which is surprising considering how many (fairly or unfairly) expected Coach Brian Kelly to really not hold back (á la Coach O’Brien of the Houston Texans). However, anyone who watched the first episode saw that Coach Kelly — especially when interacting with his quarterback Malik Zaire — didn’t need to get his point across with a constant stream of F-bombs or anything like that. The cameras caught Coach Kelly speaking with an air of directness and determination, which translated to his players’ performance on the field.
Being the first episode, a large portion of the 30 minutes was dedicated to showing the storylines of the players heading into training camp. Practices were fast-paced and intense, and viewers felt like they were directly sitting in on the practice to witness the team start to gel as a unit — as well as feel the weight behind Sheldon Day’s devastating tackles.
“A Season With Notre Dame” also offered plenty of opportunities for viewers to take part in the off-the-field lives of the different players. Jaylon Smith’s passion for bowling was thrust to centerstage, which finally shed some light behind his on-the-field celebration (the large sweeping “bowling” motion). The cameras also followed the well-publicized, touching moment where Josh Anderson, senior walk-on running back, was surprised with a scholarship. However, where the episode really shined was in following Anderson as he went into a private area to call his father and mother, trying to hold back tears of joy while he informed them of his success. It was honestly impossible to not get choked up listening to his mother congratulate him on his hard work and sending her love. Joe Schmidt was front and center as one of the team’s captains, but still maintained a down-to-earth attitude when cameras followed him on his “last first day of class.”
There were many other players who were covered, too many to list — although personal favorites of mine were seeing Jerry Tillery shine after being thrust into a large role following Jarron Jones’ injury, as well as seeing Corey Robinson playing the ukulele and singing. But the episode brought the focus back to where it all started, with the football. The episode ended covering the Irish victory over the Texas Longhorns last week, providing excellent camera angles and production in an already-sweet victory.
Even after one episode, it already feels like this season has all the makings of being a success. The show was concise, but still felt full with content and plentiful storylines. Viewers at home were afforded the opportunity to see through the eyes of the players and coaches without it feeling overly exposing. And the show never forgets its bread and butter, as it beautifully captures the hard work, frustrating struggles and beautiful accomplishments that surround the game of football.