Episodes - In The Press

Stephen Mangan has said that Episodes could go "on and on" as the writing gets richer with every series.

Written by Mayer Nissim. Digital Spy, 5th February 2014

During a break before his evening performance in Jeeves and Wooster on the London stage recently, British actor and funnyman Stephen spoke to AccessHollywood.com about what fans can expect when Season 3 of Episodes kicks off tonight at 10:30 PM ET/PT on the American Showtime network.

Written by Jolie Lash. Access Hollywood, 12th January 2014

Showtime comedy Episodes will use Matt LeBlanc's real life appearance on The Graham Norton Show as a storyline for the fictionalised version of himself on the show.

Written by Christopher Hooton. Metro, 21st January 2013

Series two provided little respite for downtrodden British writers Sean and Beverly as they fought to keep their sitcom - and marriage - alive whilst all around them in La La Land were losing their heads. It didn't help that Beverley (Tamsin Greig) had slept with the show's star Matt LeBlanc (Matt LeBlanc), or that Sean (Stephen Mangan) was now sleeping with the female lead. The second season of Episodes continued to offer a smart, funny, hyper-real story of 'normal' people trying to make it in Hollywood.

Tim Glanfield, Radio Times, 25th December 2012

After the unmitigated failure that was Friends spin-off Joey, this British-US comedy threw Matt LeBlanc a potentially dubious lifeline.

In it, British screenwriting couple Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) are tasked with adapting their subtle sitcom for a US audience but it is rendered almost unrecognisable thanks to ratings-crazed network execs who insist on casting one Matt LeBlanc in the lead role.

LeBlanc plays the floundering fall guy with glee, creating a fictionalised version of himself as the epitome of LA douche baggery.

The success of Episodes' humour lies in its assassination of throwaway US sitcoms, coupled with the ever-so-English pair's squeamishness towards Hollywood life.

It is a risky comeback role for LeBlanc but the risk paid off - just one season in and he bobbed up clutching a Golden Globe.

Christopher Hooton, Metro, 12th July 2012

Sophie Haslett reviews series two of Episodes, the soft Hollywood satire starring Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig and Matt LeBlanc.

Written by Sophie Haslett. The Daily Telegraph, 10th July 2012

James waves a fond goodbye to Episodes, which wraps up a somewhat patchy series with a great finale. Here's his review...

Written by James T. Cornish. Den of Geek, 8th July 2012

So to wrap up, it's another pleasant season, if you want something non-challenging and intermittently funny to just flop in front of, you could do a lot worse than Episodes.

Written by Nick Bryan. The Digital Fix, 7th July 2012

Episodes has been brilliant light relief from the surnames down.

Written by Lucy Mangan. The Guardian, 7th July 2012

Second series of behind-the-scenes television comedy comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Written by Fiona Sturges. The Arts Desk, 7th July 2012

Whenever there are secrets in sitcoms, they never stay secret for long. With Jamie having an affair with Matt, Merc having an affair with Carol and Carol being offered the job Merc doesn't know he's lost yet, there's plenty of dirt to come out in this final episode of season two. Against the backdrop of Merc's 'Man of the Year' award ceremony, and with everyone present, there's also the perfect opportunity for the revelations to emerge. While there are no major surprises in the season's denouement, there are still laughs to be had, especially in one of the later scenes between Sean and Matt. Very watchable even when it's not hilarious, Episodes ends in a manner which leaves the door open for another season without suggesting there'll definitely be one.

Dylan Lucas, Time Out, 6th July 2012

The dark and shameless whirligig of Episodes spins to an end tonight, complete with fighting, kissing, swearing and Sean (Stephen Mangan) doing "his Wallace and Gromit smile".

Strangely, given its title, Episodes is really about a plot arc that spans the series. In the first, it all built to Beverly's betrayal with Matt LeBlanc; this time round the focus is on brilliantly amoral Merc (half exec, half fuming troll) and his web of infidelities. He's overcome cancer, bereavement and losing the talking dog show. Now his job and marriage are under siege. Look out for a note-perfect cameo from Nigel Planer. Bring him back for series three!

David Butcher, Radio Times, 6th July 2012

This sitcom about a sitcom, starring Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig, has never quite lived up to its sizzling potential. However, series two does end on a high: the marriage of big cheese Merc comes under fire from all corners as he gears up for the Man Of The Year event. Plus Nigel Planer pops up as LeBlanc's lawyer - a union that promises a rich seam of comedy if he stays for series three.

Sharon Lougher and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 6th July 2012

Episodes delivers a finale that is nearly all sit and hardly any com. It's Merc's big night at the Man Of The Year Awards, which gives a great opportunity for all the characters to be in the same place. Trouble is the show takes an age to set all this up, forgetting to include any actual jokes as it clumsily moves the pieces into place and reminds us what they've all got at stake. We're left with some desperate, lumbering slapstick and shouting in the final few minutes, the sort of thing a bad soap opera does when it tries to be funny.

Phelim O'Neill, The Guardian, 5th July 2012

Tonight's finale of this soft satire about the making of a US TV series scurries to tie up loose ends and deliver an emotional punch. As with previous episodes, it's a qualified success that doesn't quite manage to seize its comic chances. There's schmaltz: even Matt LeBlanc's character, hitherto the show's most reliably unsentimental, gives a soppy speech. Having said that, the longueurs of plot are regularly buoyed by great zingers: Episodes' strength is in causing sharp intakes of breath when characters say the unsayable. For example, slimy studio boss Merc believes his sightless wife can actually see the odd shape: "And she calls herself blind?" retorts Merc's lover. "What a b---h!" An amusing climactic scene sees fisticuffs at an awards show, and Nigel Planer delivers a wonderful cameo as LeBlanc's lawyer. At the centre of the maelstrom are Beverly and Sean (played faultlessly by Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan) as the Brits trying to make sense of the amoral milieu and deciding whether to reunite. Episodes hasn't hit the heights of other shows-within-a-show such as The Larry Sanders Show and Extras, but its swipes at Tinseltown score often enough to please.

Vicki Power, The Daily Telegraph, 5th July 2012

Another floundering instalment arrives from series 2 of Episodes.

Written by James T. Cornish. Den of Geek, 2nd July 2012

Dragons! Goblins! Lizard men! Ogres! Harpies! Mermen! Succubi! Just some of the suggestions tossed desperately around a TV network brainstorming session when LA studio boss Merc casts around for ideas. It's a lovely scene that, like so much of the Hollywood material in Episodes, has just enough plausibility, not least because you can imagine that the show's writers - including David Crane of Friends - have been around the studio block enough times to have seen this sort of scattershot creativity with their own eyes.

Meanwhile, on the romantic side of the comedy, our separated writers try to cope with the fact that one of them is now dating, allowing Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan to squirm with awkwardness as only they know how.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 29th June 2012

The penultimate episode of this sparkling comedy about two scriptwriters navigating the moron-infested waters of Hollywood. The day doesn't get off to a good start for Matt LeBlanc (playing an exaggerated version of himself) when he wakes up in bed with his stalker Labia (Sophie Rundle). But it's nothing compared to the awkwardness felt between Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) in the wake of Beverly's date with Rob (James Purefoy).

Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 28th June 2012

Matt LeBlanc's weight-gain is the focus in this week's Episodes, which delivers another strong instalment...

Written by James T Cornish. Den of Geek, 23rd June 2012

The one-liners were up to the usual high standard.

Written by Michael Pilgrim. The Telegraph, 22nd June 2012

The stars who appeared as versions of themselves in Ricky Gervais's Extras and Life Is Short were prepared to collaborate in a certain amount of self-mockery, but nothing on a par with this. Matt LeBlanc's caricature takes another humiliating turn as the (fictional) network start to complain that their (fictional) star is putting on weight.

It's a nice take on the real pressures for TV stars, but it also allows for enjoyably awkward confrontations, not least with the only person who is there to reassure him - his blind girlfriend.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 22nd June 2012

In a nice reversal of standard Hollywood sexism, tonight's slice of this enjoyable, postmodern sitcom, sees leading-man Matt (Matt LeBlanc) under pressure for piling on the pounds. The network bosses want writers Beverly (Tamsin Greig) and Sean (Stephen Mangan) to have a quiet word ("we need hot Matt, not fat Matt"). Matt takes it predictably poorly. Beverly meanwhile has issues of her own. She's off on her first date in a decade and needs some reassurance. Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) steps in. "They're going to give you alcohol. They're going to give you food. In two hours you're done. It's like a flight to Omaha."

Toby Dantzic, The Daily Telegraph, 21st June 2012

Another meeting where Bev and Sean think their show is going to be axed turns out to be about something else entirely. The problem they are faced with is one of the more realistic Episodes has dealt with, as Matt LeBlanc's decreased screen time on Pucks! has given him the chance to stuff his face and pile on the pounds. In the more soapy part of the show, Bev goes on a date with Morning's brother Rob (James Purefoy), an apparently normal LA resident, something the show has in very short supply.

Phelim O'Neill, The Guardian, 21st June 2012

The programme has become infamous after its makers mistranslated a gravestone inscription - with disastrous results.

Written by Nathan Jeffay. The Guardian, 17th June 2012

Episodes delivers a great episode in what has so far been an uneven series.

Written by James T. Cornish. Den of Geek, 16th June 2012

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