I have already reviewed the first movie separately (in English, and in Serbian on my "YU/Serbian Movies" list), so I won't be touching on the same basic subjects I mention there. This comment will focus on the three seasons as separate entities, especially S2 which doesn't have its own movie.
Generally, there is quite a difference quality-wise between the segments directly related to the delegation (and the game of football) and the various sub-plots concerning non-football side-characters such as family, girlfriends and politics. This discrepancy is especially obvious in S2 which is hence wildly uneven. For this reason there are two different ratings per season.
SEASON 1: INTRO & PREPARATIONS. Football-related scenes: 7/10. Other stuff: 5/10.
While people who liked the movie were definitely pleased to have a TV series come out as well, I have to point out that most of the best material is in the movie anyway, and that S1 isn't as good as the feature film. The reason for this is mainly the non-football side-characters who get a lot more undeserved space. The romantic sub-plots, which were essentially the movie's weakest point, are expanded; the plot-devices utilized to artificially STRETCH Tirke's and Mosha's affairs are even more annoying, and quite frankly too far-fetched, even for a comedic TV show. Valeria's character which was so absurd and irritating in the movie now gets to annoy a lot more, and by the 3rd or 4th episode I had a strong urge to fast-forward every scene with her in it.
Considering that this is supposed to be somewhat of a family picture, a feel-good movie about a nostalgia-evoking by-gone era, I was very disappointed by that very cheap, sleazy, utterly unconvincing, unsuitable lesbian kiss between Valeria and Rosa. I do not doubt for a second that Dragojevic is the writer responsible for this ugly screw-up, given his tendency toward lewdness. Valeria slips Rosa a kiss – and remember that Rosa is a totally naïve country girl from 1930 – in an absurd manner at an absurd time, and yet Rosa reacts with a smile. I half-expected her to burst out into Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl". The writers/directors/producers should have known better than to inject their own porn-inspired personal obsessions into a story that is supposed to be about innocence.
SEASON 2: THE TRIP. Football-delegation-related scenes: 8/10. Other stuff: 3/10.
If the gap between the football plots and the non-football plots seems fairly obvious in Season 1, wait till you get to Season 2 when that difference in quality makes this series almost schizophrenic – in the sense that one gets the feeling one is watching two different TV shows: on one hand a very entertaining sports-comedy TV series about a group of footballers traveling to a tournament, and on the other hand a fairly dull, stupid and even annoying soaper about their relatives and girlfriends, most of whom are burdened with a script that emphasizes their stupidity more than anything else. This other – totally inferior – half of the series even includes a needless, baffling sub-plot about a Russian terrorist that bored me senseless. Kiril has absolutely zip/zilch/nada to do with football, and is thrown in just so he can romance Tirke's awfully confused, somewhat dim girlfriend, and in order for the writers to throw in some politics.
The writers used commonplace, very cliché plot-devices which served to throw a wedge in the Tirke-Rosa relationship; over and over and over. The writers were unable to make the romance iffy in a natural way, so they forced the issue with lame shticks. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. But that I mean: if it wasn't one daft misunderstanding, it was another daft misunderstanding: wrong people receiving letters and telegrams, messages being misunderstood, communication problems, etc – the usual TV nonsense, and it all gets old pretty quickly because it reminds me of cheap farce. By the time Tirke receives Karadzic's nonsensical telegram about "Rosa being lost", I had stopped caring whether Tirke marries this wishy-washy country bumpkin or not. To make things worse, the girl can't act that well. She is practically the only attractive female in S1 & S2 in a cast of disappointing-looking, mostly nepotist, third-rate actresses – and that IS something – but she is incapable of conveying emotions in such a way as to draw the viewer in. Certainly, she is as much a victim of her one-dimensional character as her lack of talent.
As I mentioned, the female cast is mostly sub-par, appearance-wise, with the exceptions of Rosa and Erzi. Especially that "American" with the un-American accent whose skirt every player starts chasing.
SEASON 3: MONTEVIDEO. Football-delegation-related scenes: 8/10. Belgrade scenes: 7/10.
The first 6-7 episodes of S3 are excellent, but then a lot of nonsense sinks the quality drastically.
The "how-are-things-back-home" scenes are almost entirely related to football itself and much better than in S2. The soppy romantic interludes in Montevideo are more easy-going and less relevant than in the previous seasons, so the romantic stuff/fluff isn't a burden for the viewer anymore.
Due to the nature of the location, S3 is also the most colourful one, and there is an even stronger emphasis on humour. The women are better-looking, though not stunners. Additionally, there is more of an authentic feel because of native Spanish-speaking actors, as opposed to Serbian actors playing foreigners. The one obvious exception to this is "Frenchman" Dragan Nikolic who is badly dubbed, but he is a minor character so this is only a small criticism.
Armand Assante's laughably over-the-top mumble-pose performance is a minus, as is the entire hostage-crisis segment which belongs more in a soaper or a cartoon. There is much needless exaggeration in the 2nd half of S3.
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