Episodes – Season 1
First of all, I’ll admit that I watched Episodes because of Matt LeBlanc. But after the first season ended, I also liked Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan a lot.
Episodes is a 7-part British-American satirical sitcom created by David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You). The show portrays the process of adapting British shows and retooling them for American audiences.
After happily married couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Mangan and Greig) win yet another BAFTA Award for their successful British sitcom Lyman’s Boys, they are persuaded by American network executive Merc Lepidus (John Pankow) to move to Hollywood and remake their series for an American audience.
“For the erudite, verbally dexterous headmaster of an elite boy’s academy, you’re suggesting… Joey?”
Things get worse for the Lincolns once their actor of choice, Julian Bullard (Richard Griffiths), wasn’t given the role and the network cast Matt LeBlanc, of all people, instead. Away from their beloved London, not only do Sean and Beverly struggle with drastic creative changes, such as writing a show about a hockey coach called Pucks!, but their marriage also gets wrecked during their stay in LA.
Yes, Matt LeBlanc plays himself in Episodes, but he plays an asshole version of himself. He comes across as charming, likeable and funny as he was in Friends, but not as goofy and dumb as the Joey Tribbiani character that skyrocketed him to fame. He actually seems kind of smart and shines well in this show.
Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan are excellent additions to watch. Both make their characters very credible, humorous and endearing (Mangan’s character is optimistic despite the changes; Greig’s character is critical of most things, yet seems adorable while whining), but Greig is the main star of the show for me. She shows brilliant comedy timing during the season without much effort. She should be considered as a serious candidate for Emmy and Golden Globes nominations, along with LeBlanc and Mangan.
The main reason why Episodes is worth the watch is not only the solid blend of British and American humor, but the interactions between Matt, Beverly and Sean is very entertaining and engaging to watch. Their supporting cast works well too. It isn’t your typical 30-minute comedy and it’s easy to watch and understand. However, like all shows, it isn’t perfect.
The first episode can be a turn-off, given that it reveals that Matt LeBlanc plays Lyman and LeBlanc is barely used. You may also find the idea of Sean and Beverly not fighting hard against Merc screwing around with their BAFTA-winning successful show as logic-defying too. But once you get past those flaws, Episodes gets fun to watch.
I’m hoping for a second season, but there are a couple of problems with that happening. One of them being that TV ratings haven’t been stellar for the show both in the UK and the USA. The other problem is how you can watch a show with the three main characters despising each other by the season finale, which can either be hit or miss.
Despite that, I have faith in LeBlanc, Greig and Mangan to properly work out for a second season.