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TV Review: Episodes Quickly Improved

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With all of the shows I try to get to, it is rare to re-review a show I wrote about a mere two weeks ago. However, I was not at all impressed with the pilot of Showtime’s Episodes, and the second and third episodes were fantastic. Since my opinion has changed so much, I felt it only fair to revisit Episodes, and write what the show is truly about, rather than just leave the bad taste of the pilot as my sole opinion.

First of all, Matt LeBlanc (playing a character similar to himself, not coincidentally named Matt LeBlanc), who I complained was barely in the first episode, is wonderful. He is funny and comfortable with himself, which sometimes makes him seem arrogant, but sweet. This was illustrated best in last night’s “Episode 3″. Matt argued that the librarian at the school (in the show, now named Pucks) shouldn’t be a lesbian. It was easy to see why Beverly (Tamsin Greig) would be upset with that opinion, and fight against it. Matt came across as a bit of a horn dog who just wanted to make out with the beautiful actress playing the role. But when Matt really opened up to Sean (Stephen Mangan) about why he made the suggestion, and how it would help their series, both Sean and I were swayed. Matt cares about what he’s doing! A revelation!

It’s funny, because there are plenty of goofy characters on the series, such as the gate keeper, Wallace (Lou Hirsch), or the Head of Comedy, Myra (Daisy Haggard). I assumed that Matt was going to be one of them. If he had been, he would quickly have fallen victim to the same situation he outlined for Sean about the lesbian. I like the jokes and less developed characters, as they are wonderful recurring one-notes, but I’m glad to see that Matt isn’t one of them, and he actually is a full player in the show.

I had similar concerns about Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) and Merc (John Pankow), who delivered the same type of bits in both episodes one and two. A scene in episode three gave them each depth. Carol had always been Merc’s yes-man in those first couple of shows, but while alone in her office, she suddenly showed him who is in charge, but of their professional and sexual relationships. It was a small scene, but a twist I didn’t see coming. I have to say, it made them both seem much more interesting. I had been assuming that there must be real talent behind Merc’s bluster. Now, I’m thinking maybe not. Maybe it’s all Carol.

Sean and Beverly have fleshed out nicely. I honestly was starting to question their legitimacy as a married couple. They have been shown fighting so much more than showing affection for one another. Their bedroom scene at the beginning of the third show was needed, to demonstrate their ongoing mutual attraction. They are both struggling with this new world they’ve entered, Beverly having more trouble with it than Sean, so of course they’d take it out on each other a little bit. Sean, in particular, has mixed motivations in L.A., so I’m very curious as to how he will play out. But they also have real love.

I definitely misjudged the show by its pilot, which I still maintain was not a very good one. Three episodes in, I will not say the same for the series. It’s wickedly funny, has tight writing and acting, and real talent that know how to handle themselves and their craft. I am a fan. I hope you will soon be, too.

Watch Episodes Sunday nights at 9:30 p.m. on Showtime.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com