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Series: Episodes

Episodes is a British-American satirical Sitcom created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, and starring Stephen Mangan (Green Wing), Tamsin Greig (Black Books) and Matt Le Blanc (Friends).

Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Mangan and Greig) star as a husband and wife writing team from London who have just won two more BAFTAs for their critically acclaimed show Lyman's Boys. At the ceremony, they meet the American television executive Merc Lapidus, who claims to love their show, and offers them the opportunity to produce an American remake. Without any second thoughts, the couple packs their bags and heads to LA. Big mistake.

Upon arrival, they realize everything is not like they imagined. Not only does it turn out that Merc has never seen Lyman's Boys, but he also wants to use the American remake as a comeback vehicle for Matt LeBlanc, and is ready to Re Tool the show to meet any of Matt's eccentric demands.

And so, the couple of writers loses all creative control over the remake of their own brainchild to an executive who never saw their show, and an actor with the biggest ego they ever faced.

The show contains examples of:

  • Adam Westing: Conceited, egotistical serial adulterer(!) Matt LeBlanc.
  • Audience Shift: When the studio finds out that the demographic the show's testing best with is teenage boys, they decide to retool it to focus more on the kids.
  • Beat: Lampshaded. During a table read, idiot executive Myra asks if they really need "the bats". After a confused exchange;
    Sean: Could you possibly be referring to where it says that the actors should "take a beat"?
    Myra: Yes. [beat]
    Beverly: So the pauses, you want us to take out the pauses?
    Myra: Yes. [pause]
    Sean: Right. Well we like the pauses, so how about we shoot the pauses, and then if you still don't like them we can always have them cut in post in post? [incredibly long pause]
    Myra: Mmmmkay.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Matt and Beverly.
  • Biggus Dickus: Matt.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In episode 4, Matt makes fun of Beverly with the Lincolns' cleaning lady. In Spanish.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Matt, at a Rape Awareness Benefit.
  • Blatant Lies: Pretty much most of what Merc says to Sean & Beverley.
  • Blind Mistake: A couple of times with Merc's wife Jamie, for example needing a minder at a funeral to make sure she doesn't "go in the hole."
  • Breakout Character: In-universe, Stoke.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Beverly does LA Valley Girl—"oh my god, I love your accent"—when telling Sean how much she wants to go home.
  • British Brevity: The show had seven episodes in its first season, and will have nine episodes in its second.
  • California Doubling: Inverted. London doubles as Los Angeles.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Merc's reaction when he thinks a travel agent has let his wife know about his plan to take Coral on a trip.
  • Conversational Troping: A conversation between Matt and Sean addresses British Brevity in episode 3. In series 2, Beverly is gobsmacked that the 'young' actors in 'Pucks' are in all their 20s or older, a reference to Dawson Casting
  • Creator Backlash: In-Universe — Beverly openly states in the fourth episode that she hates what their show was turned into.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Sean does this to Morning's sex tape.
  • Dawson Casting: The "kids!" on Pucks!. It gets lampshaded when Sean and Beverly hear from one of the actors about his divorce leading to their surprise at how old he is, leading him to say:
    Actor: You should see the guys on Glee, they're like 50.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sean.
  • The Ditz: Wendy the PA. Myra the executive is also pretty brainless.
  • Downtime Downgrade: Justified by Beverly's infidelity. The second season thus becomes a Will They or Won't They Get Back Together?.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: invokedIn-universe;
    • At a party, Merc's blind wife is talking about the charity she works with, whilst Merc is miming apologies before pretending to kill himself, thinking he's actually being pretty funny. Everyone else at the table is just looking around awkwardly.
    • Matt makes rape jokes... whilst on stage at a Rape Awareness Benefit.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Betsy" for Beverly.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Myra thinks this about gypsies.
  • Excited Show Title!: Pucks! Lampshaded by Sean.
  • Executive Meddling: This is the main subject of the show. Merc Lapidus actually has a fairly respectable desire for his network to produce original shows, sick of the bandwagon thinking and Lowest Common Denominator appeal that he sees everywhere in Hollywood. Unfortunately he's so crippled by a complete lack of originality himself and a need to get instant gratification in the ratings that he turns every show he gets his hands on into the same bland dross he complains about.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Every time the Lincolns try to stop Merc and Matt from altering their show, they fail.
  • Fake American: Brits Daisy Haggard (Myra the network executive), Joseph May (Andy), Scarlett Patterson (Wendy the assistant), Sophie Rundle (Labia) and James Purefoy (Morning's brother Rob). Purefoy's American accent is quite terrible.
  • Fanservice: Labia's prolonged nude scene. In fact, just about the only part of Labia's anatomy we don't see is, well...
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Sean and beverly are trying to write a funny speech about Merc for Matt to read, back in the whiteboard there's a list of thing about Merc that could be funny, they're: Bald; hugs; son in prison.
  • Functional Addict: Possibly Carol. Beverly thinks so, and she jokingly agrees.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: There's a lot of cheating and counter-cheating going on;
    • Beverly cheats on Sean mistakenly thinking he'd cheated on her with Morning, and they break up when he finds out. While they're separated, he does sleep with Morning, but feels guilty about it and tries to keep it a secret.
    • Merc and his wife frequently cheat on each other. He seems to be unaware of hers, but she knows about his.
  • Hands-On Approach: Sean teaching Beverly to ice-skate. Played For Heartwarming as she'd earlier lamented that what she missed most since they broke up was him holding her.
  • Hidden Depths: Seemingly invoked when we are introduced to Merc's wife, Jamie. She's sweet, charitable, and blind. Everyone's pleasantly surprised, and it seems like there's more to Merc than meets the eye. Five minutes later, we see that Merc gleefully belittles her in public, has been cheating on her for years, and is even more of a slime ball than everyone first thought.
    • Played straight with most other characters, especially Jamie, who, despite being blind has her own affairs, too.
    • Matt is a massive tool, but genuinely cares for his kids. "I'm a terrible husband but an excellent father."
  • Hollywood Pudgy: invokedMatt is criticised by the execs for gaining weight; Sean can't even see a difference.
  • Horrible Hollywood
  • How We Got Here: Subverted. The show opens to Beverly driving off after an argument with Sean, before crashing into Matt. The subversion comes when the viewer sees the incident which causes the argument, and realises there's still two more episodes.
  • I Just Write the Thing: In-universe, Beverly shoots down a suggestion of Matt's character going along on a road trip with his students on the basis that they wouldn't want to go with him. "Yeah, yeah, I could see that... except you're making them up!"
  • Improvised Weapon: Sean and Matt's Wimp Fight escalates into throwing things at each other, and crosses a line when Sean sprays cologne in Matt's face and they take a break to rinse his eyes out.
  • Informed Ability: Sean & Beverley's writing ability and the quality of Lyman's Boys. The bits of Pucks! we see are of varying quality at best, and that can't be entirely the fault of Executive Meddling...
  • International Coproduction: BBC/Showtime.
  • Jail Bait Wait: Rather creepily implied with Matt and Labia. She'd been stalking him for years by the time he slept with her at eighteen.
  • Limited Social Circle: Lampshaded - Carol jokes that Beverly "know[s] three people".
  • Limey Goes to Hollywood: An in-universe example, the hook upon which the whole initial premise of Episodes hangs. And since there's Always Someone Better, in the second series they meet an old PA of theirs who's got a successful screenwriting career and has been given a chance to direct a film.
  • Lower Deck Episode: In-universe, how the writers initially try to disguise the planned retool to focus the show less on Matt's character and more on the boys.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Gender-flipped when Matt catches Beverly looking at his Biggus Dickus.
  • Nobody Poops: Merc insists on having a ratings discussion with Carol while he's sitting on the toilet.
  • No Title: The individual episodes of Episodes. "Episode 1", "Episode 2", etc.
  • Older than They Look: Apparently Morning was playing grown women on TV in the 1980s.
  • On the Next
  • Opinion Flipflop: Carol is an expert at this.
    Carol: I head about the heatwave you're having! And they say there's no global warming.
    Exec: There's no global warming.
    Carol: I know, right? Come on, people, it's called "weather"!
  • Poor Communication Kills: Merc and his wife trying to book separate romantic getaways through the same travel agent fall victim to this, along with the agent assuming they're travelling together, and end up booked on a trip together.
  • Previously On
  • Re Tool: An In-Universe example. When the Ratings plummet, the execs try to retool it into a teen comedy, focused on the students, to appeal to the loyal Periphery Demographic of adolescent boys.
  • Romantic False Lead: A brother-sister pair of them in Rob and Morning.
  • Running Gag: People taking calls from Merc, only to be put through to his secretary. "Hold for Merc Lapidus..."
  • Seven Dirty Words: Sean and Beverly struggle to get around the fact that "you can't say 'cock' on TV here." The conversation throws around several equally-verboten synonyms, clearly revelling in the fact that they're fine on post-Watershed British TV.
    Beverly: Meat missile?
    Sean: Meat... missile.
    Beverly: That's what the nuns called it.
  • Show Within a Show: Pucks!
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Matt after sex with Beverly.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Labia, a Loony Fan who's been obsessed with Matt for fifteen years, ever since he took her sick 8-year-old self to Disneyland for Make-A-Wish. Oh right, and he slept with her once.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Morning is noticably more of an airhead in Series 2.
  • The Stoner: Carol at first seems very normal and secure, then reveals later into Series 1 that she is a stoner (seemingly not a light one either as she carries pre-rolled joints in her bag) and shares a smoke with Beverley. From this point onwards, her insecurity and eccentricities aren't hidden as much and she continues to appear less and less well-adjusted each episode.
    Beverly: [As Carol turns up on her doorstep holding two joints] And you claim you don't have a problem.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never see more than a couple of seconds of Lyman's Boys (it looks a lot like The History Boys, Richard Griffiths and all), presumably to avoid potential Humor Dissonance.
  • Talking Animal: Pucks! faces competition from a show about a talking dog which Merc had previously turned down the opportunity to produce.
  • Token Romance: In-universe, one of the changes the executives insist on is the introduction of a Will They or Won't They? plotline between the central character and a Hot Librarian.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: In-universe. Despite the Lincolns' protest, the show Lyman's Boys about a school headmaster is retooled into a show about a hockey coach, called Pucks!.
  • The Trope without a Title: The hit show in the same time slot as Pucks! is never referred to by name, but always by some variation on "that talking dog show".
  • Truth in Television: Anyone watching Episodes and thinking this would never happen? Think again.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Occasionally embodied by the various Meddling Executives;
    Myra: Will people know who Rudyard Kipling is?
    Sean/Beverly: Yes.
    Myra: Are you sure?
    Beverly: Do you know who he is?
    Myra: ...The writer guy?
    Beverly: There you go! See? People aren't as stupid as you might think!
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Sean and Beverly snicker at the names of some of the young actors on the show, like "Stoke". And then there's Labia. And the head of the network, Elliot Salad.
  • Wimp Fight: Sean and Matt have the "vicious but technically inept" kind after Matt sleeps with Beverly.
  • Write What You Know: A British/American sitcom about writing an American remake of a British sitcom, written by American sitcom writers. In America!
  • Your Cheating Heart: Matt, by his own admission. Not to mention several of the actors and executives. Also Beverley. And Sean... arguably.
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