Monday, July 9, 2012

Episodes on Showtime

Lisa Kudrow is not the only former “friend” to star in a smart and funny cable TV series.  Have you seen Matt LeBlanc in “Episodes”?   Please, see Matt LeBlanc  in “Episodes” on Showtime. 

Just like “Newsroom” is a show about a fictional newsroom, “Episodes” is an ensemble comedy series about making a ensemble comedy series.  And a darn good one. (I mean that the Showtime TV show is darn good, the show within the show is delightfully dreadful.)

Episodes tells the story of a British couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln who wrote a critically acclaimed hit TV series in England. They are the center of the show—the action revolves around their experiences.  I consider them to be the “straight men” of the show—the “normal” people for the other “wacko” characters play off. This is not to imply that they do not have their foibles and quirks as do all the other characters; it is just to say that they are the relatively normal characters that viewers can identify with.

Sean and Beverly have been brought to America to do a knock-off of their British show.  Of course, the American show is tweaked for American audiences until it no longer resembles the British show at all.  Sean and Beverly cope with the indignity of having their show transformed from a high brow comedy to a silly sitcom called “Pucks.”

Sean and Beverly have a lot to cope with.  Matt LeBlanc (played by Matt LeBlanc), the star of “Pucks,” is an egotist with good intuition about what makes for a successful American TV show, but who is rather dense about everything else. But he is essentially goodhearted (in his own selfish way) and wants very much to be friends with the Lincolns.  The Lincolns tolerate him for the sake of the show, but they gradually are warming to him.  At the end of season one, the friendship, and the marriage, is derailed when Matt seduces Beverly.

The characters on Episodes are wonderful.  They are just real enough for us to see them as “real”, and just exaggerated enough to be comical.  Although they are all people behaving badly, we, as viewers, are captivated by them. Every character is perfectly drawn: The producer, Merc, and his show runner, Carol, (who is also his mistress) and his blind wife--literally blind—Jamie; the actors on “Pucks”, Matt, and the sexpot, Morning, and various other co-workers and family members. The complex interactions of these characters are laugh-out-loud funny.

This show is on my I-can’t-wait-for-the-next-episode list.