Now that we’re two seasons into this series, we know what to expect going forward, don’t we?
The stars of Episodes are Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig), successful British comedy writers transplanted to the USA to make a Hollywood version of their successful British show, and, of course, Matt LeBlanc (a hopefully distorted version of the real Matt LeBlanc, who is playing the role). Although every actor on the show does great work, the rest of the cast are in supporting roles, orbiting our main three.
As Season 2 ended, there was a huge, comical brawl at Merc Lepidus‘s (John Pankow) “Man of the Year” ceremony. Merc was out as president of the network, and Carol Rance (Kathleen Rose Perkins) believes she is replacing him.
As Season 3 kicks off, we find out that Carol didn’t get the position and Merc is, instead, being replaced by someone named Castor Sotto (Chris Diamantopoulus). When Carol finally meets Castor, he seems to be a high-energy network maverick. She’s able to talk him out of cancelling Pucks!, and moving its time slot instead. Of course, Carol begins an affair with Castor, but it turns out he is certifiably crazy and he’s using her because his antipsychotic medication has cursed him with priapism, and Carol is a convenient and willing source of relief. By the end of the season, the complete scope of Castor’s mental problems is common knowledge and he’s out as president.
The good news is that Sean and Beverly, after spending a rough season separated as a couple, are back together again. Beverly slept with Rob (James Purefoy), Morning Randolph‘s (Mircea Monroe) younger brother, prior to the reconciliation and, wanting to begin their new relationship with a clean slate, she has to tell Sean. The two spend much of the season working on their relationship, even going to a sex therapist recommended by Carol. When Pucks! is pulled from the schedule, Sean and Beverly are preparing to go home when one of their old scripts is submitted to FOX. This new script begins a bidding war between several networks and could jeopardize their plans to return to London.
Matt LeBlanc continues to stay in trouble this season, beginning with a DUI he gets while his children are in the car. He tries to get off Pucks! in order to get on a new NBC show, where he’s been offered a part. The writer on this new show is Sean and Beverly’s writing nemesis Andrew, which causes some friction with the Lincolns. Matt confronts Merc Lepidus about stealing all of his blind wife’s paintings from her. After Pucks! is pulled from the schedule, Matt is angry to discover that his brilliant NBC part has already been casted. Morning’s sister comes to visit, but it turns out she’s actually Morning’s daughter. Matt, being Matt, sleeps with her. The role on the NBC drama comes available again, but Matt is being told he has to audition for it, and this angers him. He plays a game of chicken with NBC and ultimately prevails.
Things seem to be going favorably for all of our main characters. Sean and Beverly are getting to go home. Matt is going to be able to take the role at NBC. Then, the head of the network pulls a wild card, ordering up six additional episodes of Pucks!, which will certainly affect our stars, setting up the drama for Season 4.
I like Episodes a lot. The show is witty and fast-paced, and the series creators don’t feel the need to slow down and explain the jokes. It provides a behind-the-scenes peek at what goes on in the creation of network television shows, while providing contemporary commentary on the nature of relationships and trust.
I would liken this series more to Frazier than Friends. However, with three seasons behind us, the story arcs and potential sources of comedy become a bit more predictable. Hopefully, Season 4 will come with a few more surprises.
Firewater’s Season (or Series) 3 Report Card: A-