Episodes Returns Without the Sophomore Slump

The second season of the Showtime original comedy Episodes premiered on Sunday night and the show continues to be fantastic. The production of a low quality television show generally serves as only a minor plot point, but that’s okay. The main driving force remains the character interaction.

The show opens with a scene of Pucks! being shot. After the scene wraps, Sean and Beverly Lincoln exchange some witty banter and it almost seems like all is forgiven. Then, they say goodbye and head off in separate cars. This was a very cleverly written scene. It kept the viewer guessing and then revealed what appears to be the main conflict of this season: that there is still a struggle for everyone to coexist as colleagues.

The next scene features Beverly and Head of Programming for the network Carole Rance. Beverly still needs to vent about her situation with Sean. The situation is hard for her because it is Sean’s birthday. It is their first one apart and it feels weird to her. Sean has gone from her husband to “some boy who may or may not still like [her].” The interaction between Beverly and Rance is very enjoyable. As much as Beverly hated the idea of Pucks!, she still finds a friend in the process. The relationship is an effective contrast between a neurotic person in crisis and a no-nonsense perspective. Beverly adds that “if [she’s] ever feeling like the craziest person on Earth,” she should have dinner with Rance. The rapport between these two will probably get stronger as the season goes on.

Beverly and Sean still bond, but it has a different feel to it now. They read very negative reviews together and now only seem like coworkers. They still find ways to be funny even if it isn’t as spouses.  Sean reads a review that calls Pucks!,”an exhaustive rehash of ’90s sitcom cliches where LeBlanc digs into his old bag of tricks and comes up short.” He slows down and realizes that it is true. The delivery is perfect when says, “It’s like they’re looking into our soul.”

The dynamic between Sean and LeBlanc is explored at a Pucks! viewing party and it finds a way to be both dramatic and funny. LeBlanc tries to talk to Sean but he is stopped immediately. Sean is very clear that he still holds a grudge. Leblanc asks when he is going to stop being “pissed.” Sean says that with him, he is “in a constant state of piss.” Their relationship will be limited to the show and nothing else. LeBlanc apologizes, but then promptly tells Sean that the network president’s wife had a minor affair with him. This leads to a discussion about LeBlanc’s tendency to sleep with other people’s wives. LeBlanc contests that it was not a big deal. Sean correctly points out that he doesn’t think the president will appreciate the distinction. This scene is intense, but can still deliver lines that will make a viewer laugh out loud.

The show opens to huge ratings despite the poor reviews. Beverly has a complete shift in mood about the show compared to the first season. This leads to the one serious discussion that Sean and Beverly have during this episode.  Their marriage may be finished, but at least now they have the show together. It’s awkward for both of them, but it is very well acted.

The last scene of the episode will leave the viewer both enraged and excited for the remainder of the season. Sean and Morning Randolph are discussing the high ratings. Morning is not so optimistic and points out that the ratings could drop just as quickly. Sean desperately wants to keep his calm demeanor and points out that it is his birthday. Randolph quickly apologizes and asks what he’s doing to celebrate. He dismisses the subject but Randolph kisses him as a “birthday present.” Sean seems to enjoy it and kisses her back.

This series seems to be just as good as it was last season. The characters are interesting and leave you wanting to know more. As much as they have trouble getting along, there is still a certain affection. The development of Randolph is going to be interesting to watch. She may be thought of as an antagonist, but she also seems like a very likable person. LeBlanc is also well intentioned. He has a lot of growing up to do, but the viewers will root for that. The relationship between Sean and Beverly is getting more complicated and their interaction is still just as enjoyable. Episodes gives viewers a lot to look forward to this season.

Posted on July 2, 2012, in Comedy, Showtime and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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