It was the Showtime/BBC series Episodes that finally made me a Matt LeBlanc fan. Not Friends.
I mean, Joey Tribbiani was okay, in a vacuous meathead himbo sort of way. And his most famous catchphrase—”How you doin’?”—remains a part of my personal repertoire. But, Joey was strictly B-team on Friends, the sidekick, the friend-of-a-friend, never the lead. His character, frankly, just wasn’t that interesting. Good for the occasional one-liner, or in situations where a character doing something stupid was called for. That’s about it.
Matt LeBlanc playing the distorted, funhouse-mirror-reflection version of Matt LeBlanc in this series is a completely different thing. This is an older LeBlanc, and certainly a wiser version, even if he’s still capable of doing incredibly stupid, self-sabotaging things. At least, I hope this is a distorted version of the real LeBlanc, because this character is self-centered, conniving, and, in general, a bad friend. He’s also a force of nature on the show, generating turmoil at every turn and keeping things from getting boring.
The final season of Episodes does nothing to redeem the fictional Matt LeBlanc. He remains as shallow and sneaky as he was in the first season. For that alone—and for not trying to make Matt seem more everyman and sympathetic—I would recommend this series.
As the show ends, however, I have to point out that it’s no longer the series that I began watching. That was about Sean and Beverly (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) bringing their hit British television show to America, and their trials and tribulations in trying to get repeat success on this side of the Atlantic. LeBlanc was a huge portion of their trials and tribulations, of course. The last episodes no longer seem to be about Sean and Beverly as much as they are about LeBlanc, even though the finale attempts to spin things so that everything seems to be about our favorite British writing couple. All of the side characters are trotted out to take their final bows, and LeBlanc continues to get into one ridiculous scrape after another. All funny, in a cruel beat-up-your-characters kind of way.
It was time for the show to end, though. That feeling pervaded the entire season, in my opinion. Our main story had run its course. Sean and Beverly’s journey had reached an end. Several endings, in fact, the new beginning of the finale episode notwithstanding. Their second act in the show seemed cruelly prolonged, and rather than making their mark on Hollywood, Hollywood seemed to have marked them up pretty good, too.
I liked this series. And I still recommend it.
Firewater’s Last Season Report Card: B+
Maybe not as good as the best seasons of the show, but still pretty good.