Strained marriages and friendships are put to the test as
Showtime's satirical comedy "Episodes" delivers more of the
narcissistic actors, crazy network heads and chaotic situations
that dominate Hollywood's television industry.
"Episodes," developed by "Friends" creator David Crane and
partner Jeffrey Klarik, follows the journey of married British
couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln, who come to Hollywood to remake
their successful British TV show for a U.S. audience.
But season one showed the couple battling the dysfunctional
personalities running Hollywood's television industry, who
change the show to a sitcom called "Pucks" starring "Friends"
actor Matt LeBlanc. LeBlanc plays an acidic version of himself
in the show and becomes good friend with Sean. In season two,
the couple become estranged after Beverly has an affair with
"Episodes" returns this Sunday, and picks up the story from the
morning after the explosive night at an awards show which
concluded the last season, where Sean and Beverly finally
"It's a pendulum swing of disaster and longing between (Sean and
Beverly) of wanting to find one another but trying to keep
themselves protected from the terror of their universe that
they're having to exist in," British actress Tamsin Greig, who
plays Beverly, told Reuters.
British actor Stephen Mangan, who plays Sean, said while his
character began the first season as "the most wide-eyed,
innocent of the lot," in season three, Sean has to come to terms
with the fact that Matt will never change his selfish ways.
And to add to the already chaotic mix of self-involved actors
and network executives, the new season sees a new head honcho to
replace Merc, the seemingly charming Castor, who actually is a
"When you first meet him, you're blown away by everything. He's
attractive, he seems passionate and he's smart, and as you get
to know him, you realize he's crazy," said Klarik, adding that
Castor, played by Chris Diamantopoulos, was inspired by real
experiences with executives.
Each character in the show goes through making sometimes mean,
nasty and self-centered decisions that will knowingly hurt
another party, something that Crane and Klarik, as the show's
writers, were eager to portray.
"There is a certain honesty in that we're not so invested in
protecting the characters so that they only do nice things. The
characters' actions have consequences," Crane said.
[to top of second column]
"WRITING FOR REVENGE"
Crane and Klarik said part of the appeal of "Episodes" was
getting to parody the neurotic personalities of real-life people
they've encountered while working in television.
"I think Jeffrey writes for revenge much more than I do," Crane
said, with a laugh.
"There's a lot of fun to be had with the insanity of what we do, but
the most important thing for us is about the characters, and the
Hollywood part gives us this wonderful, rich world in which to set
For LeBlanc, who has become a household name playing the loveable
but dim-witted Joey Tribbiani on NBC sitcom "Friends" and its
short-lived spin-off "Joey," the one way to break out of the
"Friends" spotlight was to acknowledge it directly.
"The irony here is by embracing the fact that Matt was Joey on
'Friends,' Matt's been able to play a character who couldn't be more
different, and he's been able to show a whole range that he wasn't
able to before," Crane said.
LeBlanc, who admitted that he harbored some initial hesitations
about the idea of playing a skewed version of himself, said he came
on board because he trusted Crane and Klarik and wouldn't have done
the show with anyone else.
But while "Episodes" has gone far beyond the initial six-part series
that Crane and Klarik had envisioned producing just for the BBC, the
duo are still frequently asked the million-dollar question — will
"Friends" will ever return?
"It's not coming back," Klarik said. "We finished it right. We put a
bow on it. I think everybody who wants to see more, if we actually
did it, suddenly there'd be so much 'it's nothing like it used to
be.' Better leaving people wanting more than giving them more than
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; editing by
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.