After being away from the small screen since 2004 (I refuse to count the Joey years) Matt LeBlanc returns in the new Showtime series Episodes. Well he kind of appears. I mean he is there and he is in the show but if you are wondering if this is his comeback show I doubt you will be able to garner much from his 2 minute appearance. Oh sure the promos have been advertising it is the show where Matt LeBlanc is playing Matt LeBlanc but in the premiere he doesn’t do much more than get in to an accident with, coincidentally, the creator of the show the “studio heads” want him to audition for. Which by the way we don’t actually learn this bit of information until they are showing the previews for next week’s episode.
If they chose to have purposefully left Matt out of the premiere so as to allow the leads Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig a chance to establish themselves in the minds of the viewers before the “Hey, that’s Joey” wonderment began then they chose right. Because I must admit that I too wanted to see if he could step beyond “How you doin?” and finally come in to his own. But instead we were treated to perhaps the best bathroom non-love scene ever. Every beat in that scene was hit perfectly.
While watching John Pankow’s scenes as studio head Merc Lapidus (Ah Frank sniff, sniff) I couldn’t help but wonder if this was really how foreign shows got remade into American ones. They win an award here or there, a couple million (if they are extremely lucky) watch it, and BAM a pompous studio head who has never seen your show wants to pay you more money then you know what to do with to put it on for an American audience? I mean can that really be how it’s done? I suspect that although a lot of what we will see in future eps. will be played for laughs it will only be because deep down there is a grain of truth to it all.
The only downside to the entire premiere were the minions. After a few minutes, the schtick got old. I just wanted to tell whoever wrote those characters that I got the joke and ask them if it would it be possible to move on before they became annoying. Ok I was wrong there were two downsides; the minions and Richard Griffiths. Not his performance mind you but the fact that other than establishing his character as the actor who played the original character that the studios will eventually want Matt LeBlanc for, he had no reason to be there. Ok so he had a reason but the way they used him to establish that reason was just well it was just wrong. I mean come on, a British actor comes in and nails the audition just to be made to redo it in an obviously bad attempt at an American accent? Really, no I mean it, really?
While I enjoyed the established deadpan style I have a feeling this show won’t be for everyone. There is a reason dry humor is a difficult style to master and it isn’t because everyone in the room gets it. No its because most of the people in the room don’t get it. When a comedy or a comic has a dry sense of humor, well let’s just say they are aiming for a particular audience and it probably isn’t the folks that watch Girls Behaving Badly. Call me a snob if you want too, but you know it’s true. That isn’t to say that people who watch GBB aren’t intelligent enough to get why dry humor is funny I’m just saying shows like Episodes are not going to wonder why they have not been able to get those people to watch their shows. The problem with these types of shows isn’t that their humor comes with a certain amount of wry intelligence the problem is that sometime they fall into their own trap.
Episodes, although I found to be an extremely funny as well as endearing, could potentially become too smart for it’s own good. Which in my opinion would be a great disservice to the fans it earned during the premiere and the fans it may earn in the future. My final rating is:
Time to start keeping up with this could be classic. If you don’t you’ll have no clue what all the cool kids are taking about.
Until next time,