“Being: Liverpool,” the TV documentary series from FOX Soccer has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism in the past several weeks — most of it, to coin a FOX term, has been “fair and balanced.”
Now that we’re on the verge of the final episode of the series (scheduled for Sunday for viewers in the United States), it’s a good opportunity to share our thoughts regarding the series thus far. What have you liked or disliked about it? Did it meet or surpass your expectations? Are you still watching the series?
My own opinion is split. I personally believe that FOX made a mistake by hiring Scott Boggins to produce the series. The hiring of the veteran producer, who is best known for his work on HBO’s “24/7″ series, raised my expectations that the series would be of the quality that we expect to see on HBO, where it isn’t a glossy, fluff-piece documentary. But instead, it’s a hard-hitting series that is quite revealing and sometimes naked.
But if I base “Being: Liverpool” on its own as a soccer series rather than a traditional documentary, the show is more appealing to me. I’ve watched every episode so far this season. And while it hasn’t been a show that I’ve rushed to watch each Sunday, I’ve taken time out of my schedule to enjoy it. The show has succeeded in revealing glimpses of what life is really like inside a Premier League football club — from the inner-workings of the medical team, to the training ground, to the groundsmen and coaching staff. It has revealed what life is like for the players outside of the game. And most importantly, it has brought us into the inner sanctum of the Liverpool dressing room.
The scenes in the Liverpool dressing room are the best thing about “Being: Liverpool.” It’s not that those scenes are particularly revealing. But they do provide us with a rare look at what goes on before a match, at half-time and after a game concludes. That’s something we’ve never seen before. And while I was surprised by how silent the dressing room is (I always pictured in my mind something closer to the Crazy Gang from Wimbledon FC), those scenes in “Being: Liverpool” are worth the price of admission.
Overall, I think a lot of the criticism of “Being: Liverpool” in the blogosphere has been unfair. It’s easy to criticize. It’s hard to create. Just because the series was about Liverpool FC, the show was an easy target for laughs, criticism and derision. Had it been about Manchester United or Manchester City, the series would have been more warmly received, I believe.
FOX Soccer (and Liverpool FC) should be applauded for having the motivation and willingness to try something different. While “Being: Liverpool” isn’t what I wanted it to be, the series has been worth watching nonetheless and I hope that the executives consider continuing the series. My only hope is that they find a club who is willing to be just a little bit more open to being self-critical of itself in front of the camera. I’d love to see the series profile other clubs, warts and all.
For Liverpool and FOX Soccer, I would say the series has been a success so far. But a lot of the long-term success will be based on how Liverpool finishes this season. If Brendan Rodgers succeeds in turning around this Liverpool side that has a lot of challenges, then I believe that “Being: Liverpool” will be fondly remembered. If the season turns into a sour one and Rodgers ends up getting the sack, then the Northern Irishman’s emphatic speeches could come back to haunt him.
For FOX Soccer, they’ve improved their brand recognition across the globe and have instantly elevated the caliber of programming that it and FOX Sports produces. They’re no longer the fledgling network running its operation out of a tiny studio. They’re a force to be reckoned with. And ultimately they have raised the bar for soccer coverage in the United States.
What’s your verdict about “Being: Liverpool”? Share your feedback in the comments section below.