TV shows come and TV shows go and while some may hit and others not so much the behind the scenes process of the making of a hit TV show is always filled with opportunities for satire and comedic gold. Out today on DVD is the first and second seasons that spoof the all too common occurrence of taking a hit show from across the pond and translating it to North American audiences under the bright lights of Hollywood. Get ready for “Episodes: The Complete First and Second Seasons”.
Starring Matt LeBlanc, Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan
Created by David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik
In “Episodes” a husband and wife writing team (Mangan & Greig) get the opportunity of their lives, to bring their successful British television series across the pond and make it big in America, however in true Hollywood fashion and several script changes later it devolves into a laughable clichéd American sitcom starring none other than America’s favorite friend Matt LeBlanc. As production moves on Matt not only messes with their beloved creation but he rocks the foundation of their very relationship. Not only do they have to survive the absurdity of Hollywood including awkward funerals, falling ratings and celebrity stalkers but can their marriage survive Matt LeBlanc?
Show creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik who both have extensive sitcom experience with shows like “Dream On” & “Friends” manage to capture that behind the curtain look at the production of a television sitcom. In its truncated seven episode season form it captures both the look and feel of a UK produced sitcom, leaning heavily on sets rather than locations as it slowly unfurls its ultimate purpose. It’s dry and witty, rather than broad and general and focuses on crafting real characters that are funny rather than simply funny people in funny situations. Much more natural humor rather than gag type situations and it makes it much more of a human show subtly playing up the cultural differences as the writing duo tries to adapt to the Hollywood way of living. As the second season rolls on, the situational humor rolls on as they all get involved in The great naturalistic writing is only accentuated by some stellar performances from the ensemble.
It’s no surprise Matt LeBlanc was nominated for an Emmy and won the Golden Globe last year and is nominated for one this year for his portrayal of well…himself! It’s a real, true and funny performance portraying himself as essentially a vulnerable, sensitive yet manipulative and misogynistic Hollywood star, and probably his finest on screen performance to date. Both Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig are both UK comedy veterans and have great chemistry together as they are transplanted across the pond, it works on a natural level because we like these characters and we root for them as they struggle through the TV world that is so different to what they know that will always play second fiddle to the movies. The supporting cast is rounded out with some strong comedic hands like John Pankow, Kathleen Rose Perkins and Mircea Monroe making this a smart and sensitive comedy grounded in a certain degree of reality that still has enough moments to inspire the occasional spit take. The further we get into the second season the show really finds its stride as the characters really crack their emotional levels and we get a chance to really connect to these characters that are being portrayed on the screen.
The special features on this two disc DVD set include Cast biographies and a photo gallery.
With “Episodes” we get a sharply written satire with a real heart that still manages a few spit takes and some real laugh out loud moments. Simply one of the more hilarious shows on television today.
4 out of 5 stars.
“Episodes: The Complete First and Second Seasons” is now available for rent at video stores across the country. You can also find it for purchase at all major retailers like HMV and amazon.ca.
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