Review: Showtime’s ‘Episodes’

Tuesday, December 28 by

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.

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COMMENTS

  1. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Anonymous

    Wow – I completely disagree with this review. Watch it for yourself, folks! It’s not perfect, but it has a lot of funny moments, and Mangan and Greig are at times hilarious. Reminiscent of “Extras” in some ways, but really its own show.


  2. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Francois

    I thought it was terrible. It’s very rarely funny and the Lincoln’s are unattractive and thoroughly unlikeable.


  3. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Evantherainman

    Hey, I caught the delightful complete debut season – seven 30-minute episodes – of Episodes, to start on Showtime, Sunday, January 9, courtesy of a Showtime advance screener. If you’re in the mood for a deft, daft mix of classic droll British humor and California fine ass funny – which, come to think of it, I always am – you’ll love Episodes.

    The basic story: the creators/writers of a successful comedy show in the UK are brought over and out to California to recreate their series right here in the USA. The creators are a young, happily married, breezily and often profoundly witty couple. You know that they won’t be in for smooth sailing over here, just by looking at the opening credits (one of the best I’ve seen in a while), which feature a manuscript picked up in the wind in England, winging its way to California, only to be shot down right over the big white Hollywood sign.

    Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greg, two relative little knowns here in the States, play the “lucky” British couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln, and they’re excellent. Trouble starts pretty much as soon as they’re told that the British actor who played the lead in their comedy will be replaced by an American – none other than Matt LeBlanc, who plays himself, and delivers a performance every bit as a good or better than Joey from Friends. Indeed, the script makes satisfying, explicit reference to all manner of Joeyisms, including at least one on which the somewhat surprise ending hinges. (I saw it coming, but still loved it.)

    Even the secondary characters are striking – Daisy Haggard as Myra Licht doesn’t say much but makes some of the best blond faces you’ll ever see, and Mircea Monroe as Morning is luscious (well, maybe more a primary than secondary character).

    But really nothing about this comedy is secondary. If you like laughs a minute, sarcasm to the max about both American and British popular culture, Episodes will be just your cup of tea – or coffee.


  4. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    jack

    They’re both great comic actors and well respected in Britain. I hate to be ‘that guy’ but I’ll trust our opinion over a country which rates Two and a Half Men as it’s favourite comedy.


  5. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Jack

    Can’t believe I wrote “it’s” as opposed to “its”. Ironic :(


  6. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Forshorn

    I may be the only person avidly following the show because I was a huge fan of ‘The Class,” but… I thought the over-the-top satire of the first episode was spot on. Eagerly awaiting the rest.


  7. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Bachbeet

    I’ve seen the first 3 episodes and thought they were very funny. I liked the subtlety of the Myra(?) character who is head of comedy development yet seems completely wrong for such a position (She says something is hilarious with absolutely no emotion). I like the general “fish out of water” theme for the two Brits in LA. I thought the Tourette’s gag was carried off quite well, especially when capped at the end by the Brit husband explaining that his wife has Tourette’s to the guard at the gate. And Matt may be typed as stupid but he’s quite right about the change in the Lesbian character.


  8. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Bachbeet

    I’ve seen the first 3 episodes and thought they were very funny. I liked the subtlety of the Myra(?) character who is head of comedy development yet seems completely wrong for such a position (She says something is hilarious with absolutely no emotion). I like the general “fish out of water” theme for the two Brits in LA. I thought the Tourette’s gag was carried off quite well, especially when capped at the end by the Brit husband explaining that his wife has Tourette’s to the guard at the gate. And Matt may be typed as stupid but he’s quite right about the change in the Lesbian character.


  9. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    JMCDUB

    Yeah, I’d have to respectfully disagree with this review as well. I enjoy this show immensely! I thought the 2nd episode was a gem–the jokes came full circle and the last scene left me laughing uncontrollably even after it had ended. If you’ve got some time, check it out for yourself….


  10. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    JMCDUB

    Yeah, I’d have to respectfully disagree with this review as well. I enjoy this show immensely! I thought the 2nd episode was a gem–the jokes came full circle and the last scene left me laughing uncontrollably even after it had ended. If you’ve got some time, check it out for yourself….


  11. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Janbkr

    Dislike this show immensely. The sexual innuendos, language and topics are not funny. Just reminds me of another “Charlie Sheen” gone bad.


  12. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Jane

    I may live in that country that rates “Two and a Half Men” as its favorite comedy (not mine, I can’t stand to watch it…) but I absolutely love Episode’s on Showtime. Funny, acerbic and probably pretty close to what actually happens all the time to show business writers and their creations. Love the British couple and even though some of the wit may be a little bit cliche’, I’m still finding it laughable…out loud even!


  13. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    Jane

    I may live in that country that rates “Two and a Half Men” as its favorite comedy (not mine, I can’t stand to watch it…) but I absolutely love Episode’s on Showtime. Funny, acerbic and probably pretty close to what actually happens all the time to show business writers and their creations. Love the British couple and even though some of the wit may be a little bit cliche’, I’m still finding it laughable…out loud even!


  14. December 28, 2010 10:33 am

    cquin

    It’s hysterical. I can believe people don’t get it.