“Episodes” season 1 and 2 – a short review.

“At the risk of sounding a bit melodramatic, I think you’ve broken my heart.”

After running out of Downton Abbey episodes, it was time to go on the hunt, once again, for a new TV show to enjoy.

BBC’s “Upstairs Downstairs” disappointed, none of the characters were of particular intrest, and the storyline is muddled and doesn’t warrant an investment of time. Then again, perhaps I was just too tired of the costume drama thing, because “Borgias” also failed to stir my interest.

So, I decided to go for something contemporary, and so I turned to a British American co-production: “Episodes”. This comedy drama was created by David Crane, of “Friends”fame and Jeffry Klarik, who collaborated with Crane on “Friends” precursor “Dream on”.

The story deals with a British couple, who are lured to Hollywood to remake their hit British sitcom. As soon as they land, their creation slowly slips from their grasp. The network casts Matt LeBlanc as the star of the show…..much to the chagrin of our Brits. Soon it’s not just their TV show that’s slipping from their grasp…

The show is fresh, has a strong central concept and a varied cast of interesting characters. Matt LeBlanc plays a fictionalised version of himself and he is on top form. The casting of the other characters is right on target, and it seems as though everybody thouroughly enjoys making this show.

But the genius of the show is in the writing. David Crane and his writing team succeed in an almost perfect balance of character and plot. They adhere strictly the rule that comedy is suffering; giving te characters no mercy but plenty of love. Every solution precipitates new complications….

By Hollywood standards, LeBlanc is the star of the show, if only because he is the biggest name involved. This is, however, untrue. The show is definitely about the British couple, played brilliantly by Tamsin Greig (“Black Books”) and Stephen Mangan (“Dirk Gently”).

From the off, we believe they are a couple in love, and talented writers being tortured by the powers that be. It is their story that kept me coming back for more, breathlessly. The humor is persistent and clever, rather than laugh out loud funny – although a great fight scene in the final episode of season 1 had me on the floor laughing….

Fortunately, Episodes was picked up by Showtime, rather than one of the major networks. This entails that the strond story isn’t diluted down to 22 episodes per season, in fact the first two season total 16 episodes. Funnily enough, even though the whole atmosphere just breathes Los Angeles, most of the shooting was done in the UK.

Check it out if you can: a wholehearted recommendation: Episodes