TV Review: Showtime’s “Episodes”

Written by Barfoot March 16, 2011

What’s it about?

‘Episodes’ is about a British award winning (BAFTA) husband-and-wife writing team who are offered their shot at the big time i.e. Hollywood. Shawn and Beverly who write on their on show in Britain, are offered to make an American version of their critically acclaimed show. They move to Hollywood where they soon realize that it is not what it seems. They have to compromise to the whims of Hollywood to survive in it. For instance, changing the entire premise of their TV show and finding a way for Matt LeBlanc to play an all boy’s private schools’ headmaster.

Episodes vs. Entourage:

Entourage was indeed about the struggles of an actor in Hollywood but we saw him struggle after he gained some fame. We never saw the days of Vincent Chase prior to his hit movie “Head On”, which is where Entourage begins. Also a huge part of Entourage was the glamour and fame and the perks that come with making it big in Hollywood.

In Episodes, we get to see the struggles at the grassroots level, when no one in Hollywood knows who you are. The glamour of Hollywood is often lampooned in Episodes and it shows how fake and hollow it is, in a hilarious way. Yes, there is no shameless Ari Gold but we do have the mendacious Mark Lepidus.

Who’s in it that you’ve heard of?

Probably just Matt LeBlanc

Is it funny?

Is it worth your time?
Give it 3 episodes and then decide if it is. Take it from an avid TV viewer, it does deserve
3 episodes.

What I like about it?

–          The show is ruthless; bold; brutally honest: This is show is ruthless when it comes to comedy and its jokes. They take jabs at children affected by ‘turrets syndrome’ and the blind. I can’t wait to see how they push the envelope in the second season.

–          This show looks at the shallow and flaky world of Hollywood through outsiders eyes: Yes, Bev and Shawn have worked in ShowBiz in Britain but Hollywood is completely different beast. We learn how nothing is guaranteed until the papers are signed and the cameras are rolling. Everyone is a “big fan of your work” and a “Yes” with a smile, actually means “No”.

–          This show has two types of humour. The British fast talking, dry humour and American awkward and ruthless humour. It’s great to see it all in one show!

–          Characters are diverse and funny:

o   Matt LeBlanc: plays a cocky, smarmy version of himself. We see the perspective of a washed up TV star’s life and his ‘comeback’ to TV. There are quite a few jabs at the expense of “Joey” and the catch phrase “how you doin’?”

o   Bev and Shawn: The British couple. They have great chemistry; very down to earth and naïve in spite of being in showbiz albeit in Britain. Shawn is immediately seduced by Hollywood while Bev is the cynical one.

o   Mark Lapidus: represents the fickleness, disingenuousness, flakeyness, and shallowness of the real Hollywood. He is shameless. He makes fun constantly of his blind wife.

o   Carol: is right hand to Lapidus. She is incredibly awkward or rather put into very awkward situations.

oTo be honest, I have very little negative things to say about the show and I’m not find something bad to say, just for the sake of being fair. I have watched the entire first season and I am invested in it. I care about the characters and what happens to them. But I have come up with a list of why people might not like this show.

What people wouldn’t like about it?

–          The pilot starts out with a random scene with no introduction to the characters or the show. In fact the scene has no reference to context to the pilot. It comes up later on in the show. I liked the style because it was something new but people you might find it to be “out of the blue”.

–          People might not “get” certain jokes or references because it is a show about Hollywood. It’s not relatable (but Entourage did it!)Only people in the industry or people who follow the industry closely may appreciate the show to the fullest extent.

–          People might not care about the inner workings of Hollywood as much as the creators’ thing they do. Hollywood provides the entertainment people care about but most people probably have more important things to worry about than the “inner workings” of a relatively trivial industry.

–          This show takes a little time to break out the “funny”. It takes its time to set up its characters. A little patience might be necessary but it does reward.

Ultimately this show is about taste and it has its niche audience. It’s not going to be a broad one because of its content. One does need to appreciate both American and British humour to enjoy it. But for its target audience it is going to be very entertaining.

Since I am the targeted audience for this show i.e. I enjoy both British and American humour and find Hollywood very interesting…

I give this show an 8/10.

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