TV Review: Staged, Series 2

Michael Sheen and David Tennant return for Series 2 of Staged, accompanied by an all-star supporting cast and not always for the better

“Oh cock-a-doodle-bum-tits, not again”

The first series of Staged was a triumph of lockdown creativity, Simon Evans’ wryly conceived meta-drama featuring Michael Sheen and David Tennant as larger-than-life versions of themselves Zooming away merrily through quasi-existential crises. So of course a second season has arrived, hoping to recapture the magic.

One of the lovely things last time around was the sprinkling of guest stars to bring a surprise element to several episodes. And so here, they’ve seriously doubled down on that by using the storyline of a Hollywood adaptation being made of Staged, but recast without Sheen and Tennant.

And so (spoiler alert) we’re hit with no less than Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, Christoph Waltz and Ewan McGregor, Hugh Bonneville and Ken Jeong, Jim Parsons and Josh Gad and Cate Blanchett and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, plus Whoopi Goldberg and Ben Schwartz as the guys’ agent and her assistant, which is an impressive roll-call to say the least.

But there’s just so much of them, which dilutes that which made Staged so watchable, the verbal noodling and needling between Sheen and Tennant about the mightiest of molehills. There’s still a great deal of humour here but it’s just not as clever, the repeated attempts to ‘get’ the characters is essentially the same joke over and over again. Some things are best left locked down.

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