Review | Episodes 2×01

Episodes, a joint venture from UK channel BBC and US network Showtime, was a curious little enigma last year, creeping in with much fanfare but getting little attention after the initial flurry. Ironically, or intentionally, this episode details the ins and outs of a US comedy launch, as Pucks finally hits the airwaves. Like the sitcom within a sitcom that Episodes builds itself around, the main attraction has always been Matt LeBlanc, and the show owes him everything.

But LeBlanc seems to have stepped back to allow co-stars Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig a chance in the spotlight. Their marital issues were a big part of the first season, and the cliff-hanger rested on their separation after Beverly engaged in some rumpy pumpy with LeBlanc. The character, a skewed version of the Friends stars actual persona, was a complicated antagonist who represented various obstacles for the couple last year, and this season looks as though it’s ready for him to redeem himself.

Where they can go after the trio come film circle (if, in fact, they do) remains to be seen, but this episode marked a step in the right direction. Pucks is hilarious in the way intended, with 30-year-old actors inhabiting the parts of the hockey team and a filming sequence so obviously left open to an inserted laugh track. We knew it would be a hit, as we wanted Beverly and Sean to stay in the US, but wouldn’t it be interesting if at some point LeBlanc and co. had to visit the UK television studios? The opportunity is right there, and it would open up a new avenue for a series that could easily become stale.

Episodes has to be good to allow the inherent joke to fly, and the first season had its problems. The humour is incredibly sly and British, and it’s nice to see that the writers have held on to that strangeness in a sea of Pucks-like shows airing in the US right now. All in all, we welcome the return wholeheartedly, as it’s sometimes nice to poke fun at the machine, even if we, and the show, are knee deep in its dealings.

Tell us what you thought of Episodes in the comments below.

Caroline Preece

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