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Tom Vs. Time

Tom Brady by Maize & Blue Nation is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tom Vs. Time

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Tom Vs. Time is a brand new documentary series running on Facebook Watch.

As Facebook joins in the race to create native content, we get our first glimpse at what that content might look like. It looks like they’re putting all of their money into getting a current behind the scenes documentary into the life of Tom Brady. And with that looks comes all the glits, glammor, training, learning, grinding, and controversy of the QB superstar. This article covers the first episode of Tom Vs. Time. I highly recommend you check it out. I will not go into detail of the second episode in this article but I may write another one about it. It’s a lot of fun. But, as promised, here is a detailed breakdown and review of the first episode of Tom Vs. Time.

In the opening shots of ‘Tom Vs Time,’ we get our first glimpse of what daily life for Tom Brady looks like. It looks like an assortment of fatherly duties and work calls much like any young working dad.  It isn’t until our first Tommy voiceover that we really get that unique Tom Brady brand of winner’s mentality.

“What are you willing to do
and what are you willing to give up to be the best you can be.
You only have so much energy and the clock is ticking on all of us.”

Now, I realize this is not unique to Tom and that my usage of the word ‘unique’ is a little calculated. Tom is not the only quarterback to have figured out you have to sacrifice a lot to win. But, he has taken it to the next level. In the same opening shot, we can also see his perfectly set table ready for what will be his perfectly curated meal. It will be made by a personal chef and designed by a personal dietician. But, these are just tools of the rich and I honestly think this TV show would be boring if it were just Tom Brady living his rich dude life that makes him good at football.

So what makes the show itself good? Where in this decadent 1% lifestyle do we get a superstar football player who is also oddly good at talking to a camera? In my opinion, in the work.

Right before the title sequence we hear Tom in voiceover again lay down the reality of his show.

“So If you’re going to compete against me,
you better be willing to give up your life.
Because I’m giving up mine.”

And, in a way, he has ‘given up his life’ for this. However, I would be more inclined to use the phrase ‘built his life around this’ but that’s really semantics. For the majority of the rest of the opening episode of Tom vs. Time we do get to see Tom Brady grind away at the details of being the world’s winningest QB. And it’s a damn fun time.

Starting with the very next scene, we see Tom pull out two separate binders, each of which are inches think.

When he opens them it is revealed that each binder seems to have a year of notes and plays and quotes from Bill Belichick. With this scene, we see our first glimpse of the homework that Tom is putting in. He ends up pulling out a single page and reveals to the camera that it is covered from margin to margin with Tom’s own notes. It is fitting that this scene becomes intercut with the Patriots most recent Super Bowl victory. We the viewer begin to understand the correlation between the work put in and the reward gained.

In the next few scenes, we see the spoils of victory. Tom’s many diamond Super Bowl rings. The party he attends with Giselle. The celebration of a season of work. But then it’s back to work.

“The Joys of winning are great
but I sweep those under the rug so fast.
That there’s a brief moment in time where I enjoy the experience of winning.”

What comes next in the opening episode of Tom vs. Time becomes a subtle superhero-esque montage. We do hear a few clips of antagonist remarks by a bunch of football commentators about how Tom’s play is going to decline. But, for the most part it is Tom training at the TB12 center and getting worked on by his personal trainer. It’s a cool section.

It involves Tom’s, actually unique, pliability training. We see a seasoned athlete training his body in a very different way. Preparing him to take hits, preparing him to be 40 and even preparing him to push back retirement as far as it can go so that he can maintain a level of play often reserved for men 15 years younger. And the best part about this hum drum section is that it transitions into the first game the Pats played in the 2017 season. Where they got stomped on by the Chiefs in their home opener.

This is an interesting story telling device (editing choice) that makes for a terrific first episode. Yes, The Chiefs did beat The Patriots but to highlight that after a sequence of Tom training creates an arch to the season opener.

To put it in basic terms the episode goes like this.

  • You take a guy and put him up in a tree. The guy tries as hard as he can to get out of the tree.
  • You throw rocks at him.
  • You get him out of the tree.

It is a basic three act structure of a hero coming up against controversy. It mirrors this opening episode fairly well.

  • You take Tom Brady and say he is over the hill. Tom trains as hard as he can to not be.
  • You highlight his loss to Kansas city showing his efforts are worthless.
  • You see Giselle help Tommy move on.

Now that last part with Giselle helping Tom decompress is an awesome ending. First, because when we listen to Tom Brady swear when he is pissed off is F*cking awesome and hilarious. Second, because it shows that Giselle is amazing. She’s a world-renowned ultra superstar entrepreneur model (worth $400 million) and she’s consoling her hubby cause he lost a football game. It’s a very sweet moment where we are reminded that even with all the money, all the routines, all the talent, you can’t control everything but your winners mentality. I think this scene will make Tom Brady haters and Tom Brady lovers equally happy.

And this is how it ends. The first episode anyway. It does a really solid job of introducing us to the behind the scenes life of Tom Brady. But, it’s not nearly as good as the second episode. This first episode falls into the expected plot defaults of an introduction. It’s the unfortunate truth of a pilot that it is often overly expository. But It gets me excited to see where the season is going to go and that does its job. What’s interesting is we also have the added benefit of having seen so many of these real life moments unfold in real time. We already have the context of whether the Pats won or not. And we know they’re about to play in the Super Bowl which makes for a very excited ‘Stay Tuned’ real life hook. So, stay tuned.

Charlie Forray is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles. He's also totally a New England Patriots fan but he's wearing a Bronco's jersey in his headshot because orange looks really good on him. Charlie will mostly cover the NFL post season but will also be covering sports that feel emotionally similar to football...but are different...

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