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Episodes: Better Than the Unimaginative Title

Somethings should be left across the pond


The dumb guy from Friends has a new project, but enough about David Schwimmer in Madagascar 3. It's not Mr. Sunshine, nor is it Joey. Also, oddly enough, it's not horrible.

Episodes is a half-hour comedy featuring Matt LeBlanc playing Matt LeBlanc, except slightly smarter. The show has been renewed for a second season and airs on both BBC and Showtime.

The story is, a successful British show is transformed into a typical American show, replacing an old, fat, effete British headmaster with LeBlanc but employing the original writers, Beverly and Sean Lincoln (Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan). A Hollywood executive offers a great but doomed promise: "No farming this one out to some shitty American writers."

Sometimes, as in the case of the emigration of The Office from England to America, our senses of humor coincide and work well. But usually--Mr. Bean on one side and Mr. Belvedere on the other--neither country is funny. (It should be noted that both of those characters are British.)

In Episodes, Beverly and Sean seem like a British couple who have sex by formal agreement to remove her King's Speech-themed brassiere in exchange for the promise of figgy pudding before bidding each other tally-ho until additional romance can be scheduled a fortnight later. As for America, Matt LeBlanc seems a lot like Matt LeBlanc.

But when the show focuses on network stooges and the American tendency to obliterate subtlety, it's flawless.

If nothing else, it's great to see sitcoms on cable because of the swearing. Just once, it would've been refreshing to hear Richie Cunningham say, "You know what? Fuck you, Fonzie."