Review: Episodes – Series Premiere (& S.1) on Showtime

Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan & Tamsin Greig in Episodes

Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan & Tamsin Greig in Episodes

Show: Episodes (Showtime)
Episode: “Episode One” – Series Premiere (Season 1)
Premiere Date: Sunday, January 9th, 2011
Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Stars

Synopsis: An award winning British comedy writing team and married couple are approached to bring a version of their hit series to an American network. After being praised and having promise made about what the series will be, they decide to take the journey to Hollywood. But, not soon after things start to unravel, as changes begin to be made, like who will star in the show.

Review: Episodes is a comedy that looks to give you a behind the scenes look at a hit British TV series being adapted for an American TV network. This is a great idea for a show, given that remaking hit foreign shows here in the U.S. is all the rage. You have to look no further than Shameless, which follows this tonight.

I loved this show from tonight’s first episode all the way through its full run of seven episodes. It skewers actors, Hollywood in general, network television, and how shows can turn into the mess we see all too often hit our TV screens.

Much of the cast is good, like John Pankow (Mad About You) as the head of the network, but is also just about what you’d expect for this type of show. Yet, there are three standout performances by Matt LeBlanc (Friends), Tamsin Greig (Love Soup), and Stephen Mangan (Green Wing).

Greig and Mangan play Beverly and Sean Lincoln, a married couple with a hit British TV show. They are great together. Their reactions to everything that ends up going on around them is just, well, brilliant. Not the way they mean it, they really are brilliant. I sure hope we get more of this series, cause I want to see more of these two characters.

In that same regard, LeBlanc plays an extreme version of himself and it’s a wonderful thing to watch. He’s plays an aging actor looking for another chance at a hit series, but isn’t really right for the part. Yet, the network wants him and it is just one of the many things that goes wrong for the Lincolns and their show. Note: LeBlanc doesn’t actually appear until “Episode Two.”

While Episodes is not an improvised comedy like HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, it feels very similar. They both have actors playing versions of themselves and each episode plays as the setup to a punchline that ends each episode. While its funny throughout, each episode builds to a very funny ending and each ending leaves you wanting to see what is going to happen next. Also, the music fits perfectly to move things along and transition between scenes, just like Curb it’s very memorable.

Overall, Episodes is very much worth checking out, as the comedy writing duo of David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You) have a winner on their hands. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts after tonight’s premiere.

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Jason the TVaholic
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