EPISODES “Episode 2” Advance Review

EPISODES

EPISODES “Episode 2” Season 1 Episode 2 – I was lucky enough to see EPISODES‘ “Episode 2” early and I’m happy to say it both builds and improves upon the premiere with Matt LeBlanc playing a much bigger role and while tonight’s installment covers two Hollywood standbys: the business lunch and the dinner party, it feels fresh.

We pick up right where we left off at the end of the premiere: Sean and Beverly sitting in slack-jawed horror at Carol’s suggestion that Matt LeBlanc become the Lyman in ‘Lyman’s Boys.’ Luckily that means Matt LeBlanc, who was only seen briefly last week, is now front and center in the show. He is excellent playing a charming, arrogant, and manipulative version of himself who shares next to nothing with Friends‘ Joey. LeBlanc lightly walks the line of likeable doofus and calculating Hollywood player, and Matt’s interactions with Sean and, especially in this episode, Beverly, are delightfully well-played.

We start to learn a bit more about some of the supporting characters. Merc is even more reprehensible than we knew and one scene with his shockingly sweet wife is particularly painful. I much prefer a moment when Beverly briefly makes him uncomfortable enough that the Hollywood mask slips slightly. Carol is much more than the stock assistant character, and she shares a particularly good scene with Sean.

The core of Episodes is the relationship between Sean and Beverly, so tremendously played by Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig, and we begin to see the cracks that will eventually help lead to the blow-out in the first scene of last week’s premiere. I like that this Hollywood satire has such a strong emotional underpinning. Amidst all the silliness, there is something real at stake here and you can see the truth of that in Beverly’s eyes more than once during the episode. Myra the head of comedy development (Daisy Haggard) only appears briefly, but darned if she doesn’t make me laugh every time I see her.

A few choice lines:

“For the erudite verbally dexterous headmaster of an elite boys’ academy, you’re suggesting–Joey?” The mind does boggle.

“It’s ‘History Boys’ meets you saying it’s not ‘History boys.'” Moral: Don’t underestimate Matt.

“No one’s here to have fun.” Ah, Hollywood parties. Kathleen Rose Perkins as Carol steals every scene she’s in, I think.

“Oh, he’s totally wrong, but he has such nice hair.” Even–especially?–Beverly isn’t immune.

“Sean would tell you no. Sean would be lying.” I’m ashamed I had never seen Tamsin Greig before because she’s amazing.

One problem with Episodes is that it feels a bit scattered. We’re getting hints and threads of different storylines but they don’t necessarily connect yet, which is a tad frustrating. Because I’ve seen all seven episodes, I can tell you that everything will fall into place, but it takes longer than it probably should. Additionally, some of the jokes are too obvious and the running gag with Wallace the security guard grows tedious. Still, this is a very enjoyable half hour with wit, bite, and some terrific performances.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch Episodes on Showtime tonight at 9:30pm eastern/9pm central, I hope you’ll come back and post what you think. What do you think of Matt LeBlanc?

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