Staged Season 3 [7/10]

The opening season of “Staged,” a quirky six-short-episode conceit about a theater performance on Zoom, was both a pandemic lockdown highlight and a perfect showcase for the comic improvisational talents of David Tennant and Michael Sheen (my review). The second season (eight episodes) turned all meta and threw in guest turns by Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench, among others (my review). Now, in the post-pandemic world, eight-episode Season 3 spins an intricate ultra-meta tale of a mooted performance by the two fractious stars of a script by series creator/writer/co-star Simon Evans. Season 3 is as inventive as the other two but shows its age, with the comedy fraying badly in a few of the episodes. The support cast from the families of Tennant and Sheen are game but lack the flair of the two raconteurs. But a couple of the middle episodes sparkle and the finale is a tour de force of manic improvisation that is hilarious yet strangely moving. Three seasons is a perfect lifespan for this fecund, low-budget affair and viewers of the first two seasons should wrap up with Staged Season 3.

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