This was the least funny episode so far, but it did a much better job with the characters. Sean (Stephen Mangan) developed a man-crush on Matt LeBlanc, thanks to his sports car, a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas by private jet, and learning of his abnormally large penis; whereas Beverly (Tamsin Greig) started to detest LeBlanc because he's blanking her during rehearsals of their Americanized sitcom Pucks.
Episodes is developing a rather intriguing "love triangle" between the trio, and I'm growing more attached to the Lincoln's as they try to navigate the disingenuous world of Hollywood. In this episode we also learned that hotshot producer Merc (John Pankow) already doesn't have faith in the Pucks project being a hit, so is eyeing up new ventures for LeBlanc to headline, even if he's still glad-handing the Lincoln's and feeding their ego's with praise.
There's still nothing radical about Episodes' satire of the Hollywood TV system (slimy execs harvest ideas, eulogize the talent, dilute distinctiveness, produce something widely accessible, and have already moved onto the next project when the current one dies with audiences), and I'm a little disappointed by Matt LeBlanc's comic twist on his own persona. Oh, LeBlanc; so you have a massive penis, how hilariously self-deprecating of you!
Still, in treating Episodes less like a sitcom and more like a comedy-drama that has the good grace to end after 30 minutes, it's become a reasonably entertaining but underwhelming series. There are elements of the show I'm enjoying, and I'm surprisingly interested to see what the outcome of the show is. Will Pucks be a terrible sitcom that does astonishingly well with the American audience, turning the Lincoln's into millionaire sell-outs? Or will it flop so badly the Lincoln's are booted back to the UK and LeBlanc loses whatever semblance of credibility he has left post-Friends? Or will we see the Lincoln's rise up against tyrannical Merc, with LeBlanc's support, and produce a show they're all happy to put their names to -- no matter what the reaction to it is?
WRITERS: David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik
DIRECTOR: James Griffiths
TRANSMISSION: 24 January 2011, BBC2/HD, 10/10.30PM