The Bottom Line
- Engaging stars
- Intermittently funny jokes
- Limp satire full of Hollywood stereotypes
- Recurring bits run out of steam quickly
- Inconsistent characterization
- Airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. EST starting January 9, 2011, on Showtime
- Stars Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig, John Pankow, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Mircea Monroe
- Created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik
Guide Review - 'Episodes' Season 1
The vehicle for that satire is a British couple, Sean and Beverly Lincoln, who are persuaded to come to Los Angeles to adapt their popular U.K. sitcom for American television. At first thrilled to bring their vision to a new country, Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) soon find out that Hollywood is full of vapid morons whose only goal is to pander to the lowest common denominator. Their lead actor (a wonderful and underused Richard Griffiths) is replaced by former Friends star Matt LeBlanc (playing himself), and their main character of an erudite school headmaster gets turned into a hockey coach. Crane and Klarik play the Lincolns’ journey into Hollywood hell for broad, sitcom-style laughs rather than anything really dark or cutting, and the domestic comedy is pretty formulaic.
LeBlanc is charming enough, but his portrayal of a fictionalized version of himself shies away from real self-parody (one of the recurring jokes is that the show’s LeBlanc has a really large penis), and Crane and Klarik can’t seem to decide whether the character is a shallow showbiz narcissist or a surprisingly savvy player. The Lincolns are more consistent, and Mangan and Greig, who’ve worked together in British TV, have nice chemistry. But the show strains way too hard to seem daring, like Crane and Klarik want to prove they’re not stuck in the world of old-fashioned sitcoms. One of the great things about Friends, though, was how well it worked the classic sitcom formula. By rejecting and mocking that format, Episodes only proves how inept it is at transcending it.