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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.