Episodes - In The Press

You know times are hard when you've got to sell your dinosaur egg.

This is what life has come to for poor Matt LeBlanc in this comedy where he plays a ­fictionalised version of himself.

After having half his fortune embezzled by his dodgy business manager, Matt is ­devastated to discover he now has only $31million left.

Better get the violins out. No doubt his wallet's too small for his fifties and his diamond shoes are too tight. (OK, Friends geek Chandler said that first).

In this episode, the actor is told he needs to start reducing his spending and sell some of his assets (mainly property, cars and a dinosaur egg), otherwise he'll be skint by 2019.

"You spent $126,000 on a single bottle of brandy once owned by Al Capone?" asks his amazed accountant.

"Will you sell it?" Um no, he drank it.

And what about the aeroplane or vineyard? Off the table, apparently, though Matt is prepared to evict his father or fire his beach sweeper.

Meanwhile, Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) agree to let three networks pitch for their new script.

Things don't look promising, with one wanting to cast big names, which didn't exactly work last time, and another wanting to ditch the main concept of the show. But will one be just right?

Elsewhere, Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) finally has to confront her new boss Helen, whose husband she once slept with and consequently broke up their marriage.

Totally awkward. Especially when Carol realises halfway through her apology that Helen has no idea what she's talking about.

Sara Willis, The Daily Mirror, 18th May 2015

Matt LeBlanc has money problems and, knowing Matt as we do, he is pretty ruthless when he's in a hole. This episode sees the former Friends star's ghastly alter ego encourage his ex-wife to marry her inappropriate boyfriend (the alimony's a bit steep) and face the dreaded possibility of selling his vineyard. He may even have to let his beach cleaner go. Meanwhile, the entire LA TV industry seems to be after the new script written by Brit exiles Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig), who have somehow found their way back to La La Land.

Much of this is beautifully observed and achingly funny; and it was a good decision by writers Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane to call time on the bedhopping-fuelled rows between the three protagonists and create more moments for the sublimely talented LeBlanc, Mangan and Greig to riff off each other in the same scene. After four series it remains a pleasure, even if the usually excellent writing does strike the odd lazy, duff note.

Ben Dowell, The Radio Times, 18th May 2015

Episodes has so much going for it. It's co-written by David Crane, the clever writer mainly responsible for Friends! It has Joey from Friends in the shape of Matt LeBlanc playing himself, Matt, as an older, greyer and slappably unwiser version of Joey from Friends! It has Tamsin Greig! And Kathleen Rose Perkins! And it's really underwhelming!

Part of the problem must be that, while we Brits relished every last drop of the earlier battles surrounding the fictional couple Tamsin and Stephen Mangan's sharp fictional script being dumbed down for America, the real US scriptwriters might now feel a touch of possibly justifiable unease at all the shrewd Briton/whalethick Statesider gags. And thus have to concentrate on affairs, and Matt/Joey's vaulting new stupidities. But it's a fresh series, and I'll let it settle in, and admittedly Mr Mangan's facial reactions to Matt's financial woes last week - turned out he'd been scammed for half his lifetime earnings, and thus had "just" $31m left - were as pricelessly and stoically old-country as old maids cycling through the morning mists on cheap and broken bikes.

Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 17th May 2015

Episodes, the comedy in which Matt LeBlanc plays Matt LeBlanc in a TV show about making a TV show, began its fourth series this week. Television has been making shows about making shows for many years, with mixed success. The problem, as with actors talking about acting, is that people at home tend not to consider television to be quite as important as the people who make it. Most of us worry more about running out of rinse aid.

Episodes adds another layer of meta by having Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig playing two British screenwriters trying to make sense of the American way of making a TV show. The joke has evolved over four years to the point where by now they all know that the sitcom they are making is godawful, and yet for reasons to do with executive-level willy-waving the show goes on. Episodes is by no means godawful - Mangan and Greig are two of our very best comic performers - but it does sail a little close to the wind in telling a story about a sitcom that's outstayed its welcome.

The problem is that Episodes has got a little too cosy. When it began "Matt LeBlanc" was about as likeable as Eugene Terre'Blanche, and the jokes at his expense had teeth. But four series in, that near-the-knuckle humour has lost its bite. LeBlanc has become essentially a nice guy with a few quirks. The show isn't roasting him, as they like to say in America. It's barely even searing him - in fact, his appearance starts to look like the kind of self-deprecation that's actually a little affected - it's the same borderline smugness you sometimes sense is the driving force behind W1A.

Benji Wilson, The Daily Telegraph, 16th May 2015

"As much a wry look at US/Brit foibles as an in-joke TV industry satire"

Written by Ben Dowell. The Radio Times, 11th May 2015

The only relief came from Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan in the return of Episodes, says Tom Rowley.

Written by Tom Rowley. The Daily Telegraph, 11th May 2015

Sean and Beverly's terrible Pucks!, which stars Matt LeBlanc's ghastly alter-ego, has risen from the dead - "like Jesus if Jesus was a s****y sitcom" says one character. Some people might think Episodes itself should have been put out of its misery a while back. But Friends stalwart and co-writer David Crane has managed to breathe more life into a comedy that is as much a wry look at transatlantic foibles as Crane's satire/revenge on the industry he (and co-scribe and real-life partner Jeffrey Klarik) know all too well.

Some of the lines feel a little ponderous in places but many are brilliant. And the chemistry between Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig's exasperated Brits and LeBlanc's desperately shallow but oddly likeable leading man keep this singing.

Ben Dowell, The Radio Times, 11th May 2015

They've escaped. With Pucks! cancelled, scriptwriters Beverly and Sean are back in London. Except their "shitty sitcom no one watched" has, somehow, been renewed and the duo find themselves back in LA with a version of Matt LeBlanc still phoning in his Joey-from-Friends persona. Thus season four of the telly-about-telly series begins, and it's good to have it back because it's sharply written and funny. Tonight, Matt gets bad financial news. Beverly: "You can have a very nice life, even with as little as $31m."

Jonathan Wright, The Guardian, 11th May 2015

The script doesn't rely on outrageous situations, funny one-liners or madcap characters to bring the comedy. Instead we're invited into a world that feels very real, and it's the chemistry between the characters and the decisions they make that draws out the comedy and the more we get to know the characters, the more we're drawn in.

Written by Elliot Gonzalez. I Talk Telly, 10th May 2015

Episodes star Stephen Mangan has revealed he feared he was about to be arrested in Los Angeles - but the police were just stopping him to say they loved the show.

The Irish Examiner, 10th May 2015

Some information about the latest series of Episodes.

Written by Morgan Jeffery. Digital Spy, 10th May 2015

If the fictional Pucks! script is dodgy, the Episodes script by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik is well up to scratch, littered with screwball banter and anti-PC jokes.

Written by Bruce Dessau. Beyond the Joke, 9th May 2015

Telegraph Wonder Women #womenmustvote campaign: The actress Tamsin Greig urges women to use their voices and admits she's always voted Labour unlike her Conservative parents.

Written by Tamsin Greig. The Daily Telegraph, 6th May 2015

TV Choice met Matt LeBlanc and Stephen Mangan to chat about Series 4 of Episodes.

Written by Nick Fiaca. TV Choice, 5th May 2015

Reliable laughs and behind the scenes comedy from Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig.

Written by Henry Northmore. The List, 5th May 2015

BBC Two comedy in which the Friends star plays a version of himself alongside Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig will be back for another run - but LeBlanc is in no hurry to get back to work.

Written by Ben Dowell. The Radio Times, 5th May 2015

When Wimbledon Studios went into receivership just before shooting began on Episodes' fourth series, producer Debs Pisani had her work cut out keeping the production on track.

Written by Debs Pisani. Broadcast, 16th April 2015

Four seasons on, Showtime's Episodes reads like an affectionate breakup letter to Hollywood. It's the "I love you, but..." Its primary source of humor is and always has been the pain that's caused by the very industry the series is a part of, and there's nothing more painful - and therefore more entertaining - than what happens in season four, which premieres tonight in the USA.

Written by Brittany S. Frederick. Starpulse, 11th January 2015

TV stars David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc are set to reunite for BBC show Episodes, according to a newspaper report.

Written by Danny Walker. The Daily Mirror, 29th September 2014

As Sean and Beverley finally flee LA in the series three finale, it looks as if something might drag them back for a fourth season...

Written by Ben Dowell. The Radio Times, 9th July 2014

Plot twists! Mad monologues! Laugh-out-loud moments! Once again, Episodes builds up a head of comic steam just in time for… the end of a series. It's as if the writers work back from the finale and use previous instalments to fill in gaps. Fair enough if you're writing, say, a conspiracy thriller, but odd with a sitcom, where you need to fire zingers each week.

All the same, it's a joy to see Tamsin Greig given some comic red meat for a change. Moaning and snarking has become Beverly's default mode, from which Greig can work wonders, but now things kick up a gear. Her and Sean's script is suddenly the hottest thing in Hollywood, but Beverly doesn't care. She wants out. Cue a lovely, farcical climax with a furious routine from Beverly about Hollywood power games, using a china teacup as a prop.

It's not the only set piece of the episode. Elsewhere crazy network boss Castor lays into the TV business from another angle, in a public implosion that ends with the memorable sign-off, "How about that, my zombies?!"

David Butcher, Radio Times, 9th July 2014

Now the cat is out of the bag - or, more accurately, the script is in front of a newly off-his-meds Castor - the net appears to be closing in on Bev and Sean, forcing them to stay in LA and potentially make the show that everyone already seems to love. Bev's sense is prevailing, but Sean is wavering. Soon, Carol is offering them the world, while new agent Eileen has the networks fighting over them. Is the carrot enough? Or are they afraid of getting beaten by the stick all over again? Last in the series.

Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 9th July 2014

In this episode we meet Matt LeBlanc's dad, his imaginary screen dad, in the best scene of the series so far. Stories have appeared on TMZ that Matt has gone into rehab, and Matt knows where they came from: he forgot to send dad his cheque, and this is revenge. So he storms round there - with Sean and Beverly in tow - to confront him.

What follows has more comic voltage than the entirety of some previous episodes, as the pair trade insults in front of the mortified Brits - and few actors do mortified better than Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan. It's a cracking set piece and elsewhere the plot is coming to a boil nicely. Also, look out: in the delightfully tasteless mental health storyline, unbalanced network boss Castor is off his meds.

David Butcher, The Radio Times, 2nd July 2014

Another instalment of Episodes potters along enjoyably without ever quite firing into comic life. Sean is more tempted than Beverly to entertain offers for their other script now Pucks! is doomed, but she can't wait to leave Hollywood and head home.

We know this is leading up to something, but boy, do the writers string it out. Meanwhile, there's more sobering, midlife misery for Matt when he bumps into his stalker, Labia (Sophie Rundle), and realises she's over him, leading to a nice heart-to-heart with Sean: "It's just weird knowing I'll probably never have another one... Do you think Harrison Ford is still getting stalkers? Warren Beatty? There's a window..."

David Butcher, The Radio Times, 25th June 2014

Just when Bev and Sean thought they were out, the vacuous Hollywood telly system is trying its hardest to pull them back in, thanks to the super-perky new agent who's latched herself on to them and got them a potential new series at Fox. Bev is out, Sean seems persuadable; this being near the end of series three, could their tenure in LA be extended? Meanwhile, Carol and Castor's predominantly sex-based relationship is continuing at a sweaty pace, but she wants to take it to the next level, despite his towering indifference.

Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 25th June 2014

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