Showtime sent out the first seven episodes of their new comedy “Episodes,” which is the entire first season. It certainly gets better once you get past the plodding set-up, but never good enough to add to your DVR queue.
The big teaser is an angry Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly Lincoln (Tamsin Greig) arguing about “wanking,” as the Brits call it, and complaining about the voice of their home security system. Matt LeBlanc’s voice activated dialer calls mom instead of Bob. Groan. That’s LeBlanc’s only appearance in the pilot too. It takes a whole episode to get to him.
The real show begins seven weeks earlier. The Lincolns win a BAFTA for their show “Lyman’s Boys.” Their banter with the American producer Merc Lapides (John Pankow) is full of attempts to make witty the exposition about remaking the show in Hollywood. Sexual metaphors alone are not wit, and it’s not a British thing.
This will be a show about the culture shock of British producers in Hollywood, and the laughable attempts of Hollywood to meddle in great art. The humor is all the same kind of lame though.
When the Lincolns try to get into their American house, the security guard pulls a really lazy act about not having the Lincolns on the list and no knowing who they are. If you think that’s funny, you’ll love it when they repeat it every time the Lincolns enter the gate.
When they get inside, Beverly enjoys the security voice. That’s ironic because we saw that later she’s annoyed with it. I would think it’s funny that the Lincolns wait forever for their lavish new bath to fill with water, but the show had already exhausted my good will by then.
For insightful industry laughs, head of comedy Myra Licht (Daisy Haggard) is actually a humorless bore. How could that person ever be in charge of comedy? No wonder Hollywood makes bad shows. That explains everything.
It turns out Merc hadn’t actually seen the show, so now he wants to recast the American version. Promises are not guaranteed, executives won’t watch the properties they’ve optioned, yes men support stupid ideas, Americans make British stereotypes like “’allo gov’na.” By the second episode, we also learn that executives are selfish, insensitive to the blind and slurp food during table reads. Also, even assistants watch their weight and the Lincolns don’t know who Eliza Dushku is.
LeBlanc has a good time playing the D-bag version of himself. The delight he takes in texting profanity and laughing at Tourettes is real comedy. The “Matt LeBlanc Acts Like a Douche” show would be great. Everything else David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik wrote around that is not funny.
“Episodes” premieres Sunday, January 9th at 9:30PM EST on Showtime.