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TONIGHT'S TV: Episodes (BBC2 10pm)

Posted by Michael Moran
Michael Moran
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on Friday, 11 May 2012

Sean and Beverly Lincoln, the writers at the heart of Episodes, would barely give this show’s premise a second glance.

Bickering couple? Check.

Fish-out-of water scenario? Check.

The loopy vapidity of Hollywood? Check and check again. Episodes is a veritable shopping list of sitcom ‘easy wins’.

 

 

But somehow it just works. I think it's the way the brittle, terribly British banter between Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig contrasts appealingly with Matt LeBlanc’s laid-back Hollywood charm.

Throw in a few improbably ridiculous situations dreamed up by real-life writing couple David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik and you have some near-perfect Friday night television.

The setup, if you missed series one, is this: Sean and Beverly Lincoln are the writers of a very successful, very British situation comedy called Lyman’s Boys. They are hired by a US network to recreate the show for an American audience.

The culture-shock as they are forced to make compromise after compromise including the casting of Matt LeBlanc (playing himself) fractures their relationship and very nearly their sanity.

 

 

Series two picks up where series one left off, amidst the fallout of Beverly's disastrous one-night stand with Matt Leblanc.

The humour ranges from fast-flowing wisecracks to slapstick to the kind of toe-curling comedy of embarrassment that Larry David has made his own.

The show’s secret weapon is Leblanc’s willingness to send himself up, playing a character that may not be exactly himself but hews closely enough to the public perception of his persona that it seems entirely natural.

 


Episodes isn’t going to make sitcom history, but with the addition of a decent bottle of wine and perhaps some premium-quality crisps it could well be the making of a top-notch Friday night in.

(Incidentally, if you do find yourself on some sort of gala night out tonight, Episodes is repeated on Sunday at 11pm)

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