'Episodes' Season 1, Episode 2 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Jan 17th 2011 2:00AM
['Episodes' - Season 1, Episode 2]
Episode two of 'Episodes' gives us our first good look at Matt LeBlanc, and boy, is he a douchebag.
Of course, I'm talking about the version of LeBlanc from the series, as I have no idea what he's like in real life. But what we're learning about the 'Episodes' LeBlanc is that, just when you think he has the capacity to be smart and charming, he says something that completely makes you want to throttle him, at least if you're Beverly Lincoln.
But what we're also learning about him is that he's been around Hollywood long enough to not let a couple of writers from across the pond get in the way of what he wants.
Just like last week, this episode is likely to try the patience of even the most tolerant of TV fans. Things move a little more quickly this week with the introduction of LeBlanc into the mix. "For the erudite, verbally dexterous headmaster of an elite boys' academy, you're suggesting... Joey!?" says an incredulous Sean at the beginning of the episode.
All we see this week is a fairly unproductive dinner between the Lincolns and Matt, where the naive couple find out more of the reality of Hollywood. No, Matt LeBlanc didn't see your show. Yes, he'd rather take calls from his agent than talk to you. Yes, you're show isn't much different than the movie and play 'The History Boys.' Yes, the only reason he's taking it is the "money truck" that the network is backing up to his house; he wants to open a restaurant. And when the network tells you to meet with the completely incompatible star for your project as a courtesy, it's a courtesy to him, not to you.
We also start to see Matt in a more complex light during the party Merc throws at his house. It's during these scenes at the party where you can see the real potential of the show coming out. Matt talks about his sons and acknowledges that the network is forcing him on the Lincolns. We find out that Carol is more than just a network sycophant; she is having an affair with Merc and knows he can't leave his blind wife.
Even Merc's story is fleshed out a bit more with the addition of that aforementioned blind wife, Jaime; she seems so philanthropic and angelic that it makes Merc look like an even bigger a-hole when he openly mocks her touching story during dinner because he knows she can't see him.
But on 'Episodes,' at least at this early juncture, people can't be human, which is why Matt goes from talking sweetly about his sons and being truly sincere about his excitement over the part (he finally got to read it) to laughing at a documentary that showed kids with Tourette syndrome. "I said I felt guilty, but come on, little kids cursing?"
It's places like this where the episode falls down; it's OK to portray Matt as an immature jerk, but in a more modulated and clever way. At least we get to see more of Sean's intrigue with the whole Hollywood mystique, as he seems to be more OK with Matt's insensitivity than Beverly is.
At least Matt gets his ultimate revenge, going over the Lincoln's heads to express his hockey idea to Merc. But you knew that something like that was going to happen... there was no way LeBlanc was going to play a school headmaster, no matter how well-written the part was.
So we see some flashes this week of what this show could be, if it could just get over the "writers good / executives bad" conceit and examine the characters a bit more. But for now, it's leaning on the conceit as well as showing LeBlanc as a douchebag. And that's not enough to sustain a series, even for seven episodes.
'Episodes' airs Sundays at 9:30PM ET on Showtime.
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