Episodes (TV series)
|Created by||David Crane
|Written by||David Crane
|Directed by||James Griffiths
Jim Field Smith
Kathleen Rose Perkins
|Country of origin||United Kingdom
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||25 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||David Crane
|Camera setup||Single camera|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Hat Trick Productions
|Original channel||Showtime (US)
BBC Two/BBC HD (UK)
|Original run||January 9, 2011– present|
|Followed by||[ Friends ]|
Episodes is a British/American television sit-com created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik and produced by Hat Trick Productions. It premiered on Showtime in the United States on January 9, 2011 at 9:30 p.m. and on BBC Two in the United Kingdom on January 10, 2011.
The show is about a British husband-and-wife comedy writing team who travel to Hollywood to remake their successful British TV series, with disastrous results. On December 11, 2013, it was announced that Showtime had renewed Episodes for a fourth season.
Episodes has received positive reviews by critics, with many critics singling out Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig, and Matt LeBlanc's performances. In 2012, Matt LeBlanc's performance in the series won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy.
After happily married couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln win yet another BAFTA Award for their successful British sitcom, Lyman's Boys, they are persuaded to move to Hollywood and remake their series for an American audience. Unfortunately the network starts to make changes, and pressure the couple into casting Matt LeBlanc in the lead role for the sitcom.
A complicated triangle ensues, in which Sean likes Matt, while Beverly is less impressed. With continuing changes to the sitcom it threatens to damage the show, and other pressures result in a rough patch in their marriage.
Cast and characters
- Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc – a fictionalised version of himself, Matt is a wealthy, arrogant, self-centred yet ultimately sweet and flawed actor who was persuaded by the high salary to take the starring role in Sean and Beverly's American adaptation. He develops a friendship with his executive producer, Sean, but retains a frosty and antagonistic relationship with Beverly, which comes to a head in "The Fight", when the two sleep together. In Season 2, Matt embarks upon a relationship with network executive Merc Lapidus' wife, Jamie, and also engages in a one-night-stand with his stalker, Labia. While Matt is an old friend of Merc, secretly the two dislike each other, a fact referenced several times over the course of the show, most notably when Merc learns of Matt and Jamie's affair. Matt has two sons, who spend most of their time with their mother, Diane, with whom Matt shares a volatile yet ultimately caring relationship.
- Tamsin Greig as Beverly "Betsy" Lincoln – the other half of the successful creative team behind Lyman's Boys, Beverly moves to Hollywood with her husband to adapt their show but is quickly overwhelmed by the new business. Over the course of Season 1, Beverly becomes convinced that her husband, Sean, is attracted to the show's lead actress, Morning, which culminates in her sleeping with Matt out of jealousy. In Season 2, while Beverly maintains a professional yet awkward relationship with both Sean and Matt, both relationships improve by the later episodes of the second season. Unlike Sean, Beverly struggles with the people surrounding her, and her only friend in Hollywood is network executive Carol, with whom she often jogs and gets high. While she embarks on a brief relationship with Morning's brother, Rob, this quickly ends when she realises she still loves Sean, and the two get back together.
- Stephen Mangan as Sean Lincoln – a British television producer who found success with Lyman's Boys, a comedy series that he co-created with his wife and writing partner, Beverly, which focused on a stuffy headmaster of a boarding school. Sean comes to America to adapt the show, which is later transformed into a stock-standard sitcom focusing on Matt as a hockey coach. Over the time he spends in Hollywood, Sean's relationship with his wife deteriorates, due to his attraction to Morning and Beverly's subsequent affair with Matt. Sean engages in a casual relationship with Morning throughout season 2, but he reconciles with Beverly in the season 2 finale. Sean's friendship with Matt is also tested by Beverly and Matt's affair, but the two gradually form a solid friendship again over the course of the second season.
- John Pankow as Merc Lapidus – the network executive responsible for bringing Beverly and Sean to America to adapt their show, and subsequently for its deterioration into a stock-standard sitcom, starring Matt LeBlanc. Merc is very two-faced, often telling Sean and Beverly one thing and almost immediately saying the exact opposite to his network team, which is usually filtered to Beverly through her friend Carol. Merc is married to Jamie, who is blind, but is frequently unfaithful to her, his most enduring affair with his underling Carol, who has been infatuated with her boss since they began sleeping together five years ago. In the season 2 finale, Merc receives an award for "Man of the Year"; finds out about Matt and Jamie's affair; is dumped by Carol; and is fired by the network for selling the biggest comedy hit of the new season to a rival network while his own shows struggle in the ratings, all in the same one night, and the season ends with him standing out in the rain, having lost everything.
- Kathleen Rose Perkins as Carol Rance – the network executive immediately underneath Merc. Carol is shown to be much more competent at her job than her boss, but her undying loyalty to him prevents her from taking his job when Merc is fired in the season 2 finale. Carol has been conducting a secret affair with Merc for over five years, and their relationship seems to be asymmetrical: she loves him more than he loves her. While also dishonest and two-faced, Carol shows more emotion towards Beverly and Sean than Merc does, and admits that she still believes Pucks! can be a viable hit for the network, even when Merc doesn't.
- Mircea Monroe as Morning Randolph – the leading actress employed by the network to play against Matt's character on Pucks!. A running gag throughout the show is Morning's age, implied to be much older than she appears, due to extensive plastic surgery. There is a lingering attraction between her and Sean throughout season 1, which is acted on in season 2 when the two begin a very casual relationship, based entirely around sex. She maintains a solid relationship with Matt, whose self-centred and vain personality matches hers, and Merc, who believes Morning to be one of the only draw cards for Pucks!. Beverly makes her dislike of Morning known, but the two manage to develop a professional relationship.
- Chris Diamantopoulos as Castor Sotto
- Genevieve O'Reilly as Jamie Lapidus
- Richard Griffiths as Julian Bullard
- Daisy Haggard as Myra Licht
- Sam Palladio as Stoke
- Joseph May as Andy Button
- Lou Hirsch as Wallace, the security guard
- James Purefoy as Rob Randolph, Morning's brother
- Fiona Glascott as Diane, Matt's ex-wife
- Sophie Rundle as Labia, Matt's stalker
- Michael Brandon as Elliot Salad, network head
- Demetri Goritsas as Director, director of Pucks!
- Oliver Kieran-Jones as Andrew Lesley
Development and production
In May 2010, the BBC announced that seven episodes had been ordered and that filming had begun, with James Griffiths directing. Sean and Beverly Lincoln are played by Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig, who previously co-starred in the British sitcom Green Wing (2004–2007).
Beverly was originally to be portrayed by Claire Forlani, but she left the cast in April 2010 when the series was in pre-production. LeBlanc was to play a "larger than life version of himself" as character Matt LeBlanc. Thomas Haden Church was also to have a role in the series as Merc Lapidus, the American television executive who commissions the remake, but he left due to scheduling conflicts, and was replaced by John Pankow.
Although the majority of the show was set in Los Angeles, it was mainly filmed in the UK, including the £35 million mansion Updown Court as the house of Beverley and Sean Lincoln, with inserts shot on location in LA.
The response of the American critics was mixed. Robert Bianco of USA Today called the show "easily the best new sitcom of the season" and The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert said that "Each of the season's seven half-hours is a little sliver of pleasure." A Boston Herald review by Mark A. Perigard was lukewarm; he said he feared that the show would never achieve a broad audience and David Wiegand from the San Francisco Chronicle praised the performances of the actors but felt that the series simply was not funny. Alan Sepinwall of HitFix went further declaring the show to be one of the worst TV moments of 2011. The UK critics' response to the first episode was broadly lukewarm while remaining optimistic. More screentime for Matt LeBlanc was eagerly anticipated by some, with The Independent's Brian Viner believing that this might improve the series. The second season received similar reviews to the first season. USA Today said of the show "As smartly written as it is played, Episodes offers the comic pleasures, not just of clashing cultures, but of contrasting comic styles. On one side you have LeBlanc, who handles the big laughs and the broader humor, and does it so well, it serves as a reminder that he was under-appreciated during his years on Friends." On the Firewall & Iceberg podcast Alan Sepinwall and Dan Fienberg commented on the second season, saying that the "self-congratulatory, obvious" show that is "oddly tone-deaf about the business that is was trying to satirize" is "not about anything" and "as a result is better for it", but is still "groaningly unfunny".
In the UK, episode one of the series premiered with an audience of 1.86 million, an audience share of 8.5%. Episode two received 1.53 million viewers (7.4%), and by episode four viewing numbers were down to 1.09 million (5.3%). Episode five saw a slight rise in viewers to 1.33 million (6.6%), but numbers once again fell for episode six to 1.12 million (5.5%), and the season ended with the lowest number of viewers, 1.06 million (5.1%), tuning in for the final episode. The second series in the UK began with 1.34 million, audience share of 6.8%, but by episode seven had steadily declined to 0.68 million viewers and an audience share of 3.3%. Like in the US, the UK's reception to the second series was positive with The Arts Desk saying "There were some very funny industry-related gags, not least network boss Merc (John Pankow) and his PA-cum-mistress Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) having sex on his desk while roaring the ratings figures back at one another. The cast are excellent value but at the moment only Greig seems to be playing for genuine emotional stakes. Portraying an exaggerated version of his on-screen persona, LeBlanc’s sweet, sex-obsessed shallowness is all that's required, but Mangan – a terrific comic actor - seems constantly to be toying with a smirk, devaluing some of the emotional currency you sense Episodes is striving for. Together, they've proved they can make us laugh."
The series premiered in Australia on Nine on July 3, 2012, with season two returning on September 4, 2012. The first two seasons were replayed by subscription television network BBC UKTV (as opposed to Nine which is a free-to-air network), premiering January 28, 2014. Unlike the first two seasons which premiered in Australia on Nine, season three will premiere on BBC UKTV in 2014.
Awards and nominations
|2011||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Matt LeBlanc (Episode: "The Fight")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik (Episode: "The Fight")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Main Title Theme Music||Mark Thomas||Nominated|
|Satellite Award||Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Matt LeBlanc||Nominated|
|Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|2012||Golden Globe Award||Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Matt LeBlanc||Won|
|Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|2013||Golden Globe Award||Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Matt LeBlanc||Nominated|
|Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Matt LeBlanc (Episode: "The Affair")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik (Episode: "The Award")||Nominated|
- "Press Packs: Episodes". BBC. December 17, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- "Biggest Sunday Ever on Showtime! Shameless, Episodes & Californication to Premiere January 9th", Showtime press release, September 22, 2010, via FutonCritic.com. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
- "'Episodes' Renewed For Fourth Season by Showtime". Deadline. December 11, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- "Episodes Season 1 Metacritic Reviews". CBS. Interactive Inc. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Gay, Verne. "'Episodes' review: Matt LeBlanc's a star". Newsday. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig star in David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik's Episodes" (Press release). BBC. May 13, 2010.
- Wightman, Catriona (April 29, 2010). "Church, Forlani quit Matt LeBlanc show". Digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- "LeBlanc's 'brave' move on to British TV", BBC News, January 10, 2011
- "Exciting News:...". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- "Guess which show is coming back on 11 May!". BBC Comedy. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- "Delighted to inform you that #Episodes will be back next year for another 9 part series. Filming starts in the spring.". Twitter. 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- Mangan, Stephen (April 5, 2013). "@SinJohansen Filming in June". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Robert Bianco (January 6, 2011). "Experience great 'Episodes' of laughter, thanks to LeBlanc". USA Today. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Matthew Gilbert (January 7, 2011). "A clever satire about the travails of adaptation". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Mark A. Perigard (January 6, 2011). "Big names, little roles". Boston Herald. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- David Wiegand (January 6, 2011). "'Episodes' review: High on ego, low on laughs". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Sepinwall, Alan (December 26, 2011). "Lumps of coal: The worst TV I watched in 2011". HitFix.com. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- Sam Wollaston (January 10, 2011). "TV review: Episodes". The Guardian. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Jane Simon (January 10, 2011). "Episodes - BBC2, 10pm". The Mirror. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Keith Watson (January 10, 2011). "Episodes is a sharp and slick take on Britain's inferiority complex". Metro. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Brian Viner (January 11, 2011). "Last Night's TV - Episodes, BBC2; Shameless, Channel 4; Baking Made Easy, BBC2". The Independent. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "Metacritic: Episodes (US): Season 1".
- "Metacritic: Episodes (US): Season 2".
- Bianco, Robert (June 28, 2012). "Showtime's 'Episodes' mocks TV marvelously –". USA Today. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- "Firewall & Iceberg Podcast Episode 136 - "Episodes" (00:40:10 - 00:53:00)". 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- "Episode 1.1". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- "Episode 1.7". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- "Episode 2.7". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- Graeme Thomson (2012-05-12). "Episodes, Series 2, BBC Two | TV reviews, news & interviews". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- Knox, David (June 23, 2012). "Airdate: Episodes". TV Tonight. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- Knox, David (August 28, 2012). "Returning: Episodes". TV Tonight. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- UKTV Australia (January 28, 2014). "Twitter/UKTVausttalia". Twitter. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- Newsome, Brad (January 23, 2014). "Episodes". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- Knox, David (March 6, 2014). "Season 3 Episodes to air on UKTV". TV Tonight. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
- Official website for Showtime
- Episodes at BBC Programmes
- Episodes at the Internet Movie Database
- Episodes at the British Comedy Guide