There have been several efforts over the years to bridge the gap between the British TV form of kitchen sink soaps and pun-intended humour with the American flash-pan sitcoms and high production value dramas. Very few of these attempts however have ever lead anywhere (besides perhaps the recent remake of Shameless), and even less are the ones which are made as a co-production between the two countries; until Episodes. In itself a parody of both American and British TV at its best, and worst, Episodes achieves to put a smile on viewers faces both here (in the UK) and in America.
Why then would you watch it? Well, refraining from giving away too much, the show is basically about two head writers of a really successful British comedy show which is cancelled after winning a few awards (echoing that British tendency of ending its best, like Miranda and Outnumbered), but our protagonists aren’t failures, and are quickly whisked away to the states, to make a remake newly titled ‘Pucks’.
…they start working in the kill or be killed process of making a pilot episode…
The first season, which ran last year in the states, followed the rather gruesome clashing of cultures which are faced by the two as they start working in the kill or be killed process of making a pilot episode, along with a group of ditsy production house employees, which often steal the show (like my favourite in house producer, Daisy Haggard, who “ums” and “yeahs” through the whole show with a variety of hilarious facial expressions) and then we eventually crash into the key Golden Globe winning star Matt LeBlanc… playing himself!
Yes, if ever anyone had told me that they thought he would be able to surpass Joey I’d haven eaten my hat, because it was basically unachievable, especially after playing the character to death in the Friends spin-off Joey.
…complicated narratives as well as simple gags…
But then again, here in Episodes, the easy slap stick jokes ware off rather quickly, and the previously wasted skills of Blanc are not ignored by the ensemble. His versatility is flawless, varying from the rather frank “I’ll sleep with anything that moves” attitude to his caring ideas of how to solve friendship problems, or his questioning of being a celebrity,which probably peaks when he discusses his fragrance: “why anyone would want to smell like me? Or Britney Spears? Or Elizabeth Taylor, have you seen her lately, that’s what you want to smell like?”
Along with him, the hateful and two-sided executive who runs the show, the writers and other supporting cast varying from assistants to random people that are met on the way (such as the likes of an anti-British gate keeper), the show eases itself into a strong hold show, one which embraces complicated narratives as well as simple gags.
…the ratings prove that this one is a keeper…
My favourite scene which highlights this was in the last episode, in which a crowd of head nodding dolls of the Friends characters bob up and down as the table their positioned on is knocked by a nearby couple who are rather “busy”.
And if that wasn’t a good enough reason, well, I’m sure the ratings prove that this one is a keeper. My only complaint would be the short seven episode seasons, because it could serve very nicely with a longer running.
Images courtesy of Showtime