***If you live in Britain, this episode does not air until tonight. Beware: spoilers are below! Of course, you guys also get the DVD release next week, so I’m jealous!***
Seven episodes of Showtime’s / BBC Two’s Episodes is not nearly enough! Despite a weak and confusing premiere, the following six episodes are gems of comedy genius, delightfully played by a very gifted cast. Matt LeBlanc’s Matt LeBlanc is funny, but not over the top. Stephen Mangan’s Sean is the exact combination of neurotic and faithful needed. Tamsin Greig’s Beverly is the right mix of jealous and uptight. Kathleen Rose Perkins’s Carol is pitch perfect. Even John Pankow’s Merc is a deliciously sleazy, yet not quite villainous, boss. I know a couple of those parts were recast as the show was being made, but I can’t imagine anyone else in any of those five roles.
Which makes me incredibly sad that the series has not yet been picked up for a second season. The finale may have ended with the show-within-a-show, Pucks, getting a series order, but the fate of Episodes still hangs in limbo. I am most displeased, as it is a clever and unique show, and I see no reason at all why it shouldn’t be renewed. Except for ratings, of course, which have been so-so, despite mostly good critical reviews.
The characters are mostly realistic. I can definitely see how Beverly ends up in bed with Matt at the end of “Episode Six”, believing as she did that her husband Sean has been cheating on her with Morning (Mircea Monroe). I can also see why Matt doesn’t try that hard to set her straight, as the show’s Matt is very much a horn dog, and the detestation Matt and Beverly had for each other would likely make very passionate intercourse. Their hatred also didn’t let me see it coming, unlike other hate-duos before them, since I didn’t think the straight-laced Beverly would ever stray outside of her marriage, no matter the circumstances, until I saw it unfold that way it did. The writers managed to find the only set of variables that could have driven Bev to do the act.
I’d also like to heap praise on the way that Sean discovers the indiscretion. Matt and Tamsin both mix the right balance of guilt and dishonesty that Matt and Bev would show. But neither confesses. Sean puts together the pieces as anyone would be able to. It wasn’t a stretch that Sean figures things out, or that Bev and Matt seek to get away with it. Other shows would have lowered themselves to spell things out more explicitly, but not this one. I have a hard time finding just the right words to write this, but somehow the whole series of events seemed more natural and true than I’ve ever seen the situation done before. And boy, has that situation been done over and over before!
Which is why I want to see more Episodes. It somehow scratches an itch I didn’t even know needed attention. It’s comedy at its best, and simply one of the best made shows on television. Please, please, please renew Episodes!