‘Hannah Waddingham: Home For Christmas’ Review: Waddingham Dazzles In A Pointless Ted Lasso Reunion

The term “milking” is used to describe the exploitation of a certain thing to a shameless level. I prefer not to use the word when I’m writing an article about something, but Apple TV’s Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas has compelled me to do so. I am not a huge fan of Ted Lasso. For my personal taste, the megahit Apple TV show mostly comes off as saccharine-sweet. But the impact it has created on pop culture is undeniable. Naturally, from Apple TV’s perspective, milking something as celebrated as Ted Lasso makes sense in terms of business. But why not make a proper Christmas special instead of the staged extravaganza that Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas is? I mean, when you have the entire cast of Ted Lasso at your service, then why not make them play the parts they’re known for? 

Instead of that, we get a bumbling Nick Mohammed, who tries his best to bring in the Nathan personality. Not the evil Nathan of later seasons, but the rather loveable one from the beginning, if you must know. The other Lasso members, however, appear to be out of sync with the characters they play in the show. Brendan Hunt, aka Coach Beard, pleads with Waddingham to give him an opportunity to sing. Hunt doesn’t get to, but Phil Dunster does. And he seems quite good at it. Richmond captain Isaac, star player Colin, and your favorite football journalist turned author, Trent Crimm, all rally to cheer for Waddingham, and they find a place on the stage for a considerable amount of time. Sam Obisanya, aka Emmy-nominated actor Toheeb Jimoh, can be seen smiling like a kid in a candy store in the audience, but he doesn’t get to perform, sadly.

What works out in the holiday special’s favor is having Hannah Waddingham at the center of it. The actress, who once played a meme-worthy character in HBO’s Game of Thrones (she was the Septa Unella, in case you have forgotten or failed to realize it back then), got a huge career boost after playing AFC Richmond owner Rebecca Welton in Ted Lasso and also for her role in Netflix’s Sex Education. Her “girlboss” character was a fan favorite, so it makes sense that Apple TV would have her as the showstopper of this razzmatazz. But here is the thing: even if we take Ted Lasso out of the equation, Waddingham deserves to be the star of the show, given what she has managed to pull off here. The actor has a brilliant, extremely comforting presence, and she sings really well, which was a mandatory thing here. Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas is actually more about the person in real life than the character she played in the show. We find the actor’s mother, Melodie, who had been a mezzo for three decades at the English National Opera Chorus, present in the audience, all happy and glowing in the VIP box. The London Coliseum, where the holiday special is set, has practically been a second home for Waddingham, thanks to her musician mother. The actor’s daughter is also here to see her superstar of a mom enthralling a huge audience. John Bradley, who you know mostly for playing Samwell Tarly, is also seen in the same audience, and Waddingham doesn’t forget to give Game of Thrones a nod.

While Waddingham is inarguably the star of the show, there are other performers who help keep this thing afloat. Leslie Odom Jr., who needs no introduction, performs a fantastic duet with Waddingham and sets the tone. Next in line is Sam Ryder, who lit the stage on fire. The surprise package, though, has to be Luke Evans, whose singing talent usually gets overshadowed because of his acting career, but here he gets to show why his singing should also get recognition. However, the greatest guest performance award should go to the London Gay Men’s Chorus, who ably support Hannah by delivering absolutely marvelous performances throughout the show.

However, make no mistake, Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas is still a Ted Lasso extension, and it intends to be that as well. I find it rather sad because this would have worked better if there was no Ted Lasso hangover, but clearly the Apple TV executives thought otherwise. The best of all the big-ticket cameos come from none other than Roy Kent, though, and it works only because of how it is done. I’m not sure whose genius idea it was to put Brett Goldstein in a hot tub and make Hannah Waddingham drink champagne with him in between costume changes, but the person certainly deserves a pat on the back at the least and a good raise at most. While Goldstein’s cameo works like a fine wine, the one from Juno Temple should take home a Razzie award. Just like Mohammed, Temple channels her inner Keeley Jones and does something that her character would do for Waddingham’s character in the world of Ted Lasso. Appearing as Hannah’s secret Santa is a genuinely wholesome idea, but Temple hams it so much that you can’t wait for the torture to end.

In case you are wondering whether the main man, aka Lasso himself, makes an appearance or not, then let me spoil things for you by telling you it does happen, but the man we see is mostly Jason Sudeikis and not your favorite football coach. If you are a fan of Ted Lasso, then you are certainly going to marvel at Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas. It shares the same DNA as Carol of the Bells, the widely popular Christmas episode from the second season of Ted Lasso. The humor is of the same hit-and-miss kind, which mostly falls flat, except for Brendan Hunt being cheeky about Apple TV allowing “long” things, which is clearly a reference to Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. In conclusion, I don’t mind the existence of something like Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas. I would probably enjoy things like this if I were in the live audience, but watching it on Apple TV doesn’t make much sense to me. If it does to you, then I wish you a merry Christmas!

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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If you are a fan of Ted Lasso, then you are certainly going to marvel at Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas.'Hannah Waddingham: Home For Christmas' Review: Waddingham Dazzles In A Pointless Ted Lasso Reunion