In the first season of Episodes, the Lincolns’ marriage fell apart. Throughout this season, their communication has been awkward, yet they certainly bond over work and their mutual disappointment in Matt. As Sunday’s episode opens, Matt wakes up with Labia at his side and immediately puts his hands over his eyes in despair.. His remorse shows that he can show human qualities, but also has a personality that Sean and Beverly feel compelled to chastise repeatedly. Sean, Beverly, and Matt are able to enjoy each other’s company, even though at the main reason is to point out Matt’s shortcomings.
It’s very clear that Matt cannot take control of his own life. Sean goes into Matt’s dressing room and sees that Labia is in the room. He walks out quickly and calls for security, only to have Matt tell him that he brought her into work. Once again, Matt cannot understand the consequences of his actions. Sean jokingly reflects fondly on the memories of Matt ruing the Lincoln’s marriage. Sean and Beverly seem to have a civil and enjoyable relationship within the work setting. It’s been enjoyable to watch the Lincolns’ relationship evolve, but it hasn’t been smooth.
Episodes doesn’t have to have a complicated story in order to be funny. Sometimes the most innocuous issue exaggerated to the point where the story works extremely well. This was the case on Sunday night. The episode opens with Sean and Beverly in a meeting with Merc and Carole. Merc and Carole are their usual passive-aggressive selves and try to act as pleasantly as they can toward the Lincolns. Of course, Sean and Beverly know something is wrong. Carole asks them how they think the show is going even though they clearly don’t care about Sean and Beverly’s perspective. Beverly is smart enough to know that Merc and Carole are only asking so they can say what they think about the show.
Merc and Carole finally reveal that they are concerned that Matt has gained weight. Beverly seems hesitant to respond at first and then says that he might have put on a couple of pounds. This might simply be to appease the network, but it is unclear. Sean more obviously disagrees. He says that he doesn’t see any change in Matt’s weight. Beverly says playfully that Sean doesn’t notice those types of things. This behavior between Sean and Beverly is very curious. After Sean halted their sexual encounter at the end of last week’s show, it’s surprising they are able to so fluidly act like a couple and playfully chide each other. Commenting on personal flaws is not common for a professional relationship, especially in a joking matter. It is hard to believe that they are so good at putting personal feelings aside. For some reason, they prefer to deny that they want to give their marriage another try. Of course, Sean is terrible at suppressing his pain and Beverly does not even try to hide it. The Lincolns’ dynamic proves that sometimes things are not better left unsaid.
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.
Episodes premiered its third show of the season last night. The show continues to provide laughs, even in the most uncomfortable way. The father of network president Merc Lapidus has died and the episode dealt with the awkward ways the Pucks! staff would provide condolences. It was clear how completely inappropriate everyone’s behavior was, which is exaclty what makes it hilarious. There were parts of the show where viewers should not laugh, but they laugh anyway because Episodes runs on cringe comedy. It is a challenge to find humor in the fact that no one cares about someone’s death, yet the show makes it work.
When Lapidus’ father died, everyone’s main concern was appeasing the president of a network and not Lapidus as a person. Everyone in the show is acting selfish and morally questionable. Even so, it never fails to be funny. Their biggest concern is not to make sure Lapidus is happy, but what would be an appropriate thing to send as a condolence. An ongoing joke centers around Matt insisting that a muffin basket is not a big enough gift. He insists on a huge catered dinner, which Sean rejects. Still, there’s a stubbornness to appease Lapidus, or rather conform to “funeral” behavior.
The second season of Episodes has been superb so far. Sunday’s show was only the second episode. Considering how good the series has been, it’s probably not slowing down. The main arc of this season is about repairing damages and it’s working very well. The main issue is simple in that it is very difficult for everyone to move past the turmoil of the first season. The biggest struggle is not for the civility of Sean and Beverly Lincoln, but for Matt LeBlanc to win Sean over. Everything came together extremely well.
The episode opens with Sean and Morning Randolph in bed together. Randolph is leaving and Sean seems confused. He feels that their sleeping together deserves more attention. He asked if they should talk about what happened and Randolph simply said “I had fun.” Sean was confused again, and he asks, “That’s it?’ This really highlighted the emotional states of the characters well. Sean isn’t used to the dynamic of the one night stand. After all, he’s been married for several years. Sex that doesn’t mean much is new territory for him. That being said, the subtexts of the scene were executed very well. There were a few moments of silence between the two as if to communicate an uncertainty that they are both getting comfortable with. In this sense, there is still a feeling of emptiness. He’s separated from Beverly and he isn’t cheating. Out of familiarity, he almost seems to crave for the situation to be more complicated than it actually is. Instead, Randolph has the right idea, simply telling Sean she would see him tomorrow.
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.
The Showtime original comedy series Episodes is returning for a second season tonight and there’s a lot to look forward to. The first season was excellent. This series follows husband and wife comedy writing team, Sean and Beverly Lincoln. The couple comes to Los Angeles to remake their hit British sitcom Lyman’s Boys. The problem is they lose control of the show along the way. The network retools the premise without their permission.
Assuming the star of their British show will continue to perform the role in America, the Lincolns offer him the part. He is asked to audition anyway in an American accent and fails miserably. With no star lined up, the network goes a completely different direction by getting Matt LeBlanc to play the lead. Instead of following a headmaster at an elite prep school like the original, the U.S. version follows a smooth-talking hockey coach and is retitled Pucks!. The pilot gets worse every day. This show has done a great job of satirizing how difficult it is to work with a television network, but that isn’t what makes the show. It’s the characters’ chemistry.