Episodes Takes A Dramatic Turn

So far this season, Episodes has been enjoyable, but relatively simple. When last week’s episode ended with Merc Lapidus taking a phone call at his own father’s funeral, it’s not surprising that the following episode would be a bit cynical. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t funny. It just got darker than usual. In a way, it’s good for the show. It demonstrates that it can expand its tone. However, those who were looking to laugh without having to think will be disappointed.

The fourth episode of the season opens with Merc and Carole discussing the ratings of Pucks!, which have been steadily declining. This isn’t so much a well directed or well acted scene as much as it is a way to comment that they are in a show about a show.  When Carole says that she and Merc are always running into problems with the show’s that are failing, Merc quips rather angrily,”Why don’t we make a show out of it.” This is obviously meant to call attention to the premise of Episodes, but it doesn’t work well. The running joke continues to be  the network’s disdain at the success of an unnamed show about a talking dog. It can get a little old, but Episodes’ sense of good and bad television premises should be commended.

The episode continues with another story line involving Beverly and Sean. Again, the episodes seems to repeat the same joke over and over, but in this case, it works. Specifically, it seems to be a commentary about how Facebook could damage a relationship. Since separating from Beverly, Sean has joined the popular social networking site and has become “friends” with Beverly’s mother. Beverly has no problem saying that Sean and her mother are not friends in real life to which Sean replies “Somehow, I like her better this way.” This is making the very good point that while a lack a face-to-face communications is easy in modern times, it probably lacks real substance.

Carole comes over to Beverly’s house for dinner in one scene as a gesture of moral support. The show isn’t doing well, but Beverly could not care less about it. After all, she did not want to do the show in the first place. Beverly and Sean seem to have a strong marriage, but Beverly sought to blame her affair with Matt on Pucks! chaos. In the first season, Beverly got the idea that Sean was sleeping with the female lead of Pucks!, Morning Randolph. This was partially because Morning is meant to be much older than she looks and Beverly was beginning to doubt whether or not her husband still found her attractive in the “glamorous” city of Los Angeles. Before the Lincolns were asked to come to LA, Beverly and Sean were used to creating a show for the sake of its art.

In London, if a show is not being watched that much, it’s harder for a British network to really care. British TV is well aware that the money is in America and that seems to reasons  be one of the reasons Beverly did not want to come to L.A. After all, television is supposed to be fun. When an American network seeks to make money off the success of a critically acclaimed British series that only ran a total of 24 episodes, it’s likely that at least some of the artistic integrity gained in the original series will be compromised. In the case of Pucks!, all the integrity was tossed out the window for the sake of money. This may be one of the reasons that the name of the network is never revealed, but it can also be seen as an allegory for the lack of respect paid to British showrunners, e.g., the Lincolns, as they enter the foreign land of Los Angeles.

Beverly is aware of this and has no respect for Pucks! whatsoever. In fact, before her affair with Matt, she was counting on the Pucks! pilot to be a complete failure. Pucks! is meant to be the epitome of bad television. It’s contrived and its plots have been done before in some way, yet prior to Sunday’s episode of Episodes the network let Sean and Beverly believe that network viewers could not get enough of Pucks!.

It was after the ratings were not going up at all, which the network expected, that they wanted less of Matt’s character on Pucks!. Matt never really needs to act ever again. He’s a millionaire and he was on a quality television show that lasted 10 years. As he said to Merc Lapidus, he came back to television because the network said it needed him to star in a show. He has had an unapologetic attitude from the very beginning. He knew that Pucks! was probably not good but he did it anyway, so it’s natural for him to be offended when he’s asked to perform a lesser role on an already bad show.

It seems rational that Matt would quit the show and that is exactly what he was planning to do. He was at a bar, noticeably intoxicated, and about to call Merc when Beverly approached him in what became the most moving moment of the episode. She said that he had to stay on the show. Matt objects and points out that she never wanted to do the show in the first place. She agrees, but then counters by saying that the show is the only thing giving her a chance to win Sean back. This is a very interesting realization, given that in Beverly’s mind, the show destroyed her marriage. Now, she feels like it’s her only shot at saving it.

Posted on July 24, 2012, in Cable, Comedy, Showtime and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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