The second season of Showtime’s Episodes - a send-up of the television industry starring Matt LeBlanc as his fictional self - debuts tomorrow night (July 1) at 10:30p.
Episodes has been called Entourage-lite. It’s true. Episodes can be a little slow and a little dry, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch.
The premise: the writing duo of Beverly and Sean Lincoln (Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan) are lured to Hollywood to recreate their acclaimed British comedy. Naturally, the concept is mangled by TPTB (the powers that be) and the series morphs into Puck, a sitcom about a high school hockey team starring LeBlanc as the coach. (Think hints of Coupling, the popular British series that sank after crossing the pond.)
Last season, in a drunken stupor, Beverly slept with LeBlanc. As season two opens, Beverly and Sean are separated and coping with the emotional aftermath while Puck gets a series pick up. LeBlanc, ever the charming narcissist, struggles to restore his broken bromance with Sean.
There are laugh-out-loud moments in Episodes. To highlight just a few: the women chatting about relationships over white wine, a joint, and a single bowl of edamame; a sexposition scene where network head Merc Lapidus (John Pankow) and his second-in-command Carol Rance (Kathleen Rose Perkins) boink on his desk while discussing the hot premiere ratings. In another, Lapidus’ elegant wife Jamie (Genevieve O’Reilly) explains her involvement in the “Save The Honeybee” campaign.
The fictional LeBlanc clearly loves to be liked and he’s rather desperate to worm his way back into the hearts of the Lincolns. He buys them both a sporty, tricked-out Infiniti. Unfortunately, the storyline comes to a screeching, smoking halt due to what appears to be a product placement deal with Nissan. Ep two is an extended advert for the car, with LeBlanc saddled with the task of delivering a two minute recitation on all the cool features. LeBlanc just stands next to the car and gives the sales spiel.
We learn all sorts of stuff we really don’t need to know, for example: this Infiniti has “3.7 liter V6 with traction control and an electronic stability control program” and a “sound system with 13 speakers.”
At least a BMW makes a cameo appearance.
Side note: some of the fashion is awesome and I spotted a pink hoodie I’d really like to have.
The season two premiere is somewhat tedious at times. LeBlanc was often flat and the writers seemed off their game.
I’m glad I didn’t let the weaknesses of the season opener deter me. In spite of the (apparent) product placement, by the end of the second episode, LeBlanc seemed to have found his comic footing and he’s hilarious in the scene in which he finally convinces Sean to accept the Infiniti. To be honest, the writers finally gave LeBlanc some material he could work with.
By the end of ep two, I was hooked on the show. Episodes is no Entourage but that doesn’t mean the series isn’t worth watching.