Episodes - In The Press

Episodes, by Friends co-creator and writer David Crane - allows Matt LeBlanc to poke rip-roarious fun at what happens to household names like himself who, thanks to a show's stellar success, are automatically greenlit for comedy projects everywhere, whether the writers and crew want them or not.

Written by Grace Dent. The Independent, 25th July 2015

Episodes has clearly had its day. Presumably the fact that it is returning for a fifth series owes itself to the fact that it has been far better received in the US than it has in the UK.

Written by Chris Hallam. 13th July 2015

As the curtain falls on the fourth series of the Matt LeBlanc, Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan comedy, Ben Dowell says the show has never been better.

Written by Ben Dowell. The Radio Times, 6th July 2015

Because Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane have created such a host of fabulous supporting characters over the four series of Episodes, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig's bemused-Brits-in-LA Sean and Beverly can take a back seat in this hilarious season finale and let the carnage unfold around them.

The Matt/Merc feud reaches an exquisitely absurd climax on the set of the LeBlanc-fronted new game show The Box (is it me or is the format for this actually quite good?). And Helen Basch's envious suspicions about her girlfriend Carol also come to a head in a rollicking 30 minutes that shows just how deftly plotted Klarik and Crane's writing is. Thank the showbiz gods there will be another series. Or as Matt might put it: "Bring on the bugs!"

Ben Dowell, The Radio Times, 6th July 2015

There are series that become critical darlings but never attract a large enough audience to be viable. There are ones that the critics hate but the viewers adore. There are some that manage to score on both fronts, pleasing all of the people all of the time, and become runaway successes. And then there's the fourth type: those series few people really care about, yet which for some reason, just keep being recommissioned.

Written by Pat Stacey. The Irish Herald, 1st July 2015

Now in its fourth series, the Anglo-American show-within-a-show has got looser, broader, dafter, ruder - and as unmissable as Matt LeBlanc's greatest hit.

Written by Dan Martin. The Guardian, 30th June 2015

In his best Episodes, LeBlank is the cable-friendly counterpart to Curb Your Enthusiasm curmudgeon Larry David.

Written by Ellen E. Jones. The Independent, 29th June 2015

Jealous studio boss Helen Basch (Andrea Savage) hates Tamsin Greig's Beverly because she thinks she loves her girlfriend Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins). Helen also hates the oily Merc Lapidus so she sets him up to do a game show with his sworn enemy, the cash-strapped Matt LeBlanc. Matt's not talking to Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly either, because the Brit abroad writers snubbed his services for their hot new show.

Packed with brilliant lines, this is an eventful episode that shows how nimbly plotted this suave, assured, knowing, skilled and very funny comedy is - and the surprising directions it can take you. A joy.

Ben Dowell, Radio Times, 29th June 2015

Feeling that their show is being outmuscled big time by rivals in the Emmy campaign, David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik decided to take things into their hands with an ad they scribbled on a white sheet of paper.

Deadline, 18th June 2015

If Matt's money worries weren't bad enough, his dad's heart attack could push him over the edge. Dick LeBlanc (a fabulously grouchy Alex Rocco) is living in a condo that his cash-strapped son needs to sell. But will he survive surgery?

It's a bleaker-than-usual visit to sunny LA, with most of the action focused around Dick's hospital bed where, bizarrely, Beverly and Sean (Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan) have joined the vigil. But the gags are still pretty sharp, especially when it comes to the regular telephone bulletins Beverly gets from the deliciously insecure Carol.

Ben Dowell, The Radio Times, 15th June 2015

When Matt's dad is taken ill with chest pains, Bev and Sean find themselves somehow embroiled in the mess, which Matt's stepmother thinks has been brought on by the recent revelation that Matt now owes $8m to the IRS thanks to his previous dodgy accountant. Luckily, a few signed Friends photos - some scrawled by Bev and Sean - grease the wheels in the hospital. Meanwhile, Carol's fling with boss Helen is getting serious. They're on pet names already, and it's only been two weeks.

Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 15th June 2015

The Matt LeBlanc comedy has been on form this series, partly because it has been unafraid of pushing the boundaries of taste. And this episode is another deliciously questionable corker that sees Matt agreeing to make a paid celebrity appearance at a war criminal's birthday party in order to allay his growing financial worries. It's either that or leaking a sex tape.

And the vile former network boss Merc Lepidus rears his head in about as literal and unwelcome a fashion as possible. Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig's bewildered Brits Sean and Beverly continue to battle Sean's former writing partner (also known in LA as "that Tim guy") and there is a deft cameo from a surprise guest.

Ben Dowell, Radio Times, 8th June 2015

The actor, 47, on wearing tights, how Green Wing changed his life, and why he wouldn't want to be more famous.

Written by Ed Cumming. The Guardian, 6th June 2015

The satire is nicely even-handed, with the Brits as guilty of prissiness as the Americans are of shallowness -- and in both cases without ever seeming despicable, merely somewhere between ambitious and scared.

Add in a uniformly strong ensemble cast and Episodes should in theory be an impossible show for any one person to steal. In practice, Matt LeBlanc manages it effortlessly, playing a particularly unsparing version of himself as an amoral egotist struggling to hang on to his alpha-male status as his post-Friends career slides ever downwards. On Monday, for instance, he decided that if he got back with his ex-wife, he could renew his relationship with his sons -- and, better still, save a lot of money on alimony and child support. And all this, while remaining extremely charming.

James Walton, The Spectator, 4th June 2015

A lot of heads wake up from a lot of pillows in this episode, and they all groan "What have I done?" Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) and her boss, the wonderfully monikered Helen Basch (Andrea Savage), face the morning after the night before - as do Matt and his ex-wife. "How much tequila did I have?" wonders the erstwhile Mrs LeBlanc. "Just enough," he replies with a smirk and his usual superb timing.

Meanwhile, Sean and Beverly are having to face the consequences (legal and otherwise) of his former writing partnership in a particularly crisp and sharp episode of David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik's transatlantic caper, which is beautifully structured and uproariously funny.

Ben Dowell, The Radio Times, 1st June 2015

Halfway through our interview I notice that Stephen Mangan has swung his legs over the arm of his hotel armchair. The posture - relaxed, informal, friendly and also perhaps a bit weary -does speak of the man. After all, he's in the middle of run at the National Theatre of the Ayckbourn-esque drama Rules for Living.

Written by Gerard Gilbert. The Independent, 28th May 2015

Matt's money worries come to a head and you don't need to be a committed LeBlanc watcher to know that he will probably live to regret his unusual solution. Sean and Beverly face problems of their own when Sean's ex-writing partner comes to town and (in a departure from David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik's usually deft plotting) delivers a somewhat implausible missile that may sink them yet.

But perhaps the biggest bombshell concerns Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins), who discovers that her rackety love life cannot be blamed on father issues alone. As with previous series, there is mounting mayhem amid the phoniness and frivolity. And it's great fun.

Ben Dowell, The Radio Times, 25th May 2015

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

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