Being Liverpool Review: TV Documentary Promises A Lot, Delivers Little

I wanted so much to love the first episode of “Being Liverpool,” but after watching it, I walked away from it feeling like I had just seen a lightweight, puff piece that taught me nothing new. Instead, it felt like a Hollywood wannabee show that was mostly constructed of laid-back interviews and back story that were pieced together to construct a story that showed me nothing new except for some behind-the-scenes walk-throughs of the homes of Liverpool players and manager Brendan Rodgers. And that was it.

Let me be clear. “Being Liverpool” is not a fly-on-the-wall documentary that will reveal any dirty laundry or show you anything that you don’t already know. It feels more like a carefully constructed documentary that promotes Liverpool Football Club. Yes, the laid-back interviews with manager Brendan Rodgers feature honest answers in regards to his expectations for the club and what it means to be in charge at Anfield. But I expected more. A lot more. Or, at least, something different than what was delivered.

First episodes are often difficult to judge since they often spend time telling the back story, or — like in pilot TV dramas or comedies — introducing the characters and setting the tone. The remaining five episodes of the documentary may be an improvement especially if they delve deeper into topics that are glossed over on the first episode.

“Being Liverpool” starts promisingly. The first few seconds of the episode takes viewers into the dressing room before the kick-off of Liverpool’s opening match of the 2012-13 season against West Bromwich Albion. Deep in the heart of the Hawthorns, with the sounds of the crowd wafting into the room, Rodgers gives a stirring speech in the center of the Liverpool staff and players who formed a circle around the Northern Irishman.

But just as the beginning of Liverpool’s 2012-13 Premier League campaign started with a lot of promise, but fell flat on its face after the losses against West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal, “Being Liverpool” does the same. It starts strong, providing us with rare footage of players and manager in the dressing room, but then falls into a warm-and-fuzzy puff piece that gives the back story of how Liverpool got to where they are today, introduces the viewer to the key characters (Gerrard, Leiva, Rodgers and others), as well as providing insight about Liverpool’s tour of North America.

It’s quite possible that the remaining five episodes of the story will delve deeper into polarizing topics, but so far, I’m not impressed. Dalglish’s exit from Liverpool was discussed in great detail in this first show, but were glossed over with relatively rosy interviews with people like John Henry, Tom Werner and Ian Ayre — essentially saying that Dalglish left on good terms and Dalglish knew it was part of the plan all along that a long-term manager would eventually be hired. Dalglish isn’t interviewed in the first episode, nor are there any behind-the-scenes footage of what was said between Dalglish and Fenway Sports Group when the Scot flew to Boston for post-season discussions. Nor is there any footage of what was said in the dressing room at the tail end of last season. I, for one, would have been particularly interested in seeing Dalglish’s reaction to Liverpool’s disappointing end to last season where they lost the FA Cup Final and lost to Fulham and Swansea. Instead, what we get is the cliche footage of Liverpool supporters biting their nails, shaking their heads and shouting their outrage in a Liverpool pub.

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