Episode Tite: "Episode 3"
Writers: David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik
Director: James Griffiths
Previously on "Episodes":
Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly Lincoln (Tamsin Greig), a husband and wife writing team behind a hit British TV series called "Lyman’s Boys" were hired for an American adaptation of their show starring former "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc. Although neither Lincoln thought he was right for the part, Merc Lapidus (John Pankow) and his network minions loved the idea of getting Matt on board. When the Lincolns met him a second time at Merc’s dinner party, he surprised them by being intelligent and charming.
However, Beverly soon fell out of favor with him after she scolded Matt for repeating a tasteless joke. As a result, Matt went behind their backs to get Merc to change his character and the premise of the series to better suit Matt’s acting talents. Horrified that they are now writing a Hockey themed show called "Pucks," Sean lashed out at his wife for making things worse. The Lincolns also learned that Merc was cheating on his blind wife with Carol Rance (Kathleen Rose Perkins) from the network.
Sometime later, Sean and Beverly awaken in bed together and she tries to convince him to play hooky with her. At the set, they arrive barely in time for the first table read of "Pucks;" which gets off to a rocky start thanks to Merc’s slurping of the various breakfast fruits. Although the rest of the reading appears to go smoothly and Merc’s initial appraisal is positive, he later tells Carol that his opinion is that the show is "meh." Soon after, Matt approaches the Lincolns about changing the character of Nicola from a lesbian to a straight woman so that Matt’s character can eventually get a shot at her. Beverly then accuses him of homophobia.
When Sean warns her not to repeat the mistake that led to their current Hollywood hell, she tells him that he can deal with Matt from now on. Matt refuses to let the discussion go and drags Sean out for a quick trip to Vegas… and he even lets Sean drive his incredibly rare car on the way to the private airport. At the network, Merc tries to get inappropriately intimate with Carol but she refuses his advances. He also casually suggests that they use Matt on a different pilot now that John Stamos has dropped out on them, but Carol defends "Pucks" and may have inadvertently saved it.
In Vegas, Sean and Matt bond over great food and the celebrity treatment they receive. At one point, Matt boasts about the size of his cock and invites Sean to see it. Despite his initial refusal, Sean soon follows him into the bathroom. When they get back to Los Angeles, Matt makes a much more compelling case for changing Nicola by pointing out that if it is impossible for Nicola and Matt’s character to ever get together then it will come back to haunt them if the series is a hit. Beverly is put out when Sean starts to agree with Matt and wants to make the change. Sean also shares the story about seeing Matt’s cock and describes it as a creature that could attack a city.
The next day, Matt defers entirely to Sean, which infuriates Beverly. After bumming a cigarette from one of the child actors, Beverly sees Matt in his dressing room to complain about the lack of respect that he has shown her. Unfortunately, Matt is wearing sweatpants and she finds herself unable to stop glancing at his crotch. Matt agrees to treat her as an equal with Sean, but he then calls her out for staring at his junk and ushers her out of his dressing room. Stung by the sudden humiliation, Beverly walks off.
This was definitely a step in the right direction for "Episodes" and hopefully a sign of better things to come. Matt LeBlanc continues to be surprisingly charming while playing himself as an a**hole. Matt and Sean’s side trip to Vegas was the most fun this series has been since it started. LeBlanc’s caricature of himself is also more devious and two-faced than I expected. Matt’s sudden friendship with Sean may really be his way of controlling the series even further. And the way LeBlanc plays it, Matt’s initial insistence that Nicola be straight seems like his attempt to form a convincing excuse to make out with Morning Randolph (Mircea Monroe); the actress who portrays Nicola.
Tamsin Greig’s Beverly is still a little too shrill for me to really enjoy her delivery and she was sidestepped for most of this episode. But her final confrontation with Matt was really funny. Beverly also got some amusing moments when she sparred with the wardrobe man about his Dr. Seuss inspired clothing for Nicola and also when Beverly experienced shock and then fast acceptance of the underage smoker. Beverly has the potential to be a much more engaging character when her stock response isn’t a high pitched squeal.
However, Merc is fast becoming the breakout character of the series. He lies so casually that his rare moments of candor are hilarious. He is also by far, the most reprehensible character on the show… and yet John Pankow still manages to make him likable. This week also offered a little character rehabilitation for Carol, who was little more than the network’s mouth piece prior to the end of the last episode. Her rejection of Merc’s advances and the way she defended "Pucks" actually gave her a point of view. As far as network executives go, she’s also been relatively forthcoming with the Lincolns… which means she might be the only real human being in Hollywood.
The main drawback for this installment of "Episodes" was that it ended just as it was getting really interesting. But as a weekly show, it’s not a bad idea to leave the audience wanting more.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.