Last year Showtime introduced TV audiences to a new side of Matt LeBlanc in a new series titled Episodes. This show had LeBlanc starring as Matt LeBlanc. Clever, no? Of course this LeBlanc was a little ruder and a lot cruder than the image we had of the actor when he starred in Friends and Joey. This Showtime show had the actor making fun of himself and it worked.
The new series also benefited from having actors Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig playing a married pair of writers. These writers had a hit show in London and were thrilled when television executive Merc Lapidus (John Pankow) wanted to create a TV series based on an Americanized version of their show. To their amazement he hired Matt LeBlanc to star in the show and changed the whole concept to suit Matt's personality.
In the show last year LeBlanc had a one night stand with Beverly Lincoln (Greig) and her husband Sean (Mangan) found out about it. This caused problems all way round and the three still had to work together. That is where last year ended.
This year the three are working together but Sean and Beverly are separated. This is a bit of a downer for a comedy series. Also the uniqueness of LeBlanc playing LeBlanc is getting a little old. We have seen this same type of actor playing "himself" gimmick on other shows. Plus the show just doesn't seem as fresh and funny this year. It still has its moments but overall the laugh count is down.
Also last year Mangan and Greig were unknowns to most of the audience viewing this show. Greig particularly was outstanding with her delivery of the comedic lines in the show. This year she is still a bright spot, forging a look and persona that is half Julie Andrews and half Paula Prentiss. Mangan looks to be a distant relative of Elliot Gould's but he didn't get his comic timing.
There is a running joke on the show about Merc's blind wife Jamie (Genevieve O'Reilly) and how Merc cheats on her with impunity because of her blindness. This is an awkward setup that makes the audience uncomfortable.
LeBlanc can still elevate a scene with just a look and his comic timing is still sharp. He has stayed good but his show has not. Maybe as Episodes progresses through this season there will be improvement.
Episodes airs Sundays at 10:30PM on Showtime.
Jackie K Cooper