This was undoubtedly the best episode of Episodes’ second season—a low bar, but still, it cleared it—and I think there’s a couple reasons why. Episode six largely steered clear of the industry satire and it had just the briefest appearances by the supporting cast, who have never been well-drawn enough to support their own storylines. Well, maybe Carol, but she works best in small doses. At the same time, it moved the Sean/Beverly plot forward in a nice direction by having the two drunkenly hook up (an eminently plausible situation given their history and their working hours).
Now, I think this probably should have happened even sooner, since six episodes of Beverly pining for Sean hasn’t led to much dramatic momentum. Now, after this spectacularly embarrassing incident (Sean can’t follow through because he keeps imagining Beverly sleeping with Matt), she’ll actually be motivated to seek someone else out. Perhaps Morning’s cute brother Rob, played by James Purefoy (his stubble is doing most of the heavy lifting in this role).
I think this season should really follow the British model exactly. Rather than nine episodes, have six, with this incident halfway through. It’d help alleviate that feeling over the last few weeks that the writers have just been mercilessly padding storylines with any stupid Hollywood spoof they can think of just to delay their flimsy season arc.
Anyway, this is what we’re stuck with, and due respect to Tamsin Grieg and Steven Mangan, who did a decent job with the drunken reconciliation/failed attempt at consummation. The scenario was as half-baked as most of Episodes’ setups (Matt asks them to write a “man of the year” speech for Merc, so they pull an all-nighter and get to drinking) and the dialogue was often awkward (they bitch about Sean’s mother among other things) but the actors sold the material as well as they could. Hard not to feel bad for Beverly sadly picking up her jeans after everything went wrong.
Meanwhile, we finally got a B-plot I’m sure Crane and Klarik have been dying to do since they pitched the show—Matt trying to recruit a former Friends cast member to guest star and boost Pucks’ ratings. Obviously, we couldn’t actually have a Friend guest-star, since the joke is that Matt can’t convince anyone to show (and if anyone did show, it’d make ‘em look pathetic) so the final reveal is that he’s roped in James Michael Tyler, aka Gunther, and he can’t even get Jennifer Aniston’s cellphone number from him.
Like everything on Episodes, this could have been better-executed. Through his phone conversations with Kudrow, Cox, Perry and Schwimmer, we get the idea that Matt is a drunken lout who has successfully demolished every one of his relationships, usually through funny “jokes.” That worked once, but by the fourth or fifth time I was sick of seeing Matt explain himself over the phone that he didn’t mean to piss on Aniston’s Emmy, but maybe he dribbled a little bit. It was fine, but idea of LeBlanc spoofing himself has never really worked, because his public persona is not that interesting. Yeah, he’s divorced, but that’s about the extent of it—we don’t think LeBlanc is brave for lampooning his reputation as a jerk, we laugh because as far as we know, he’s on great terms with all the Friends in real life.
Another plotline that I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of is the persistence of Matt’s stalker Labia, who shows up in his house topless to make him cookies and flees only at the threat of the police. As lame as the concept is, I do like Matt’s interactions with her because their backstory is so twisted. “I’d die for you!” she screams as she exits his apartment. “Yeah, but you didn’t.”
- Morning’s sunken cheek gets CGIed out of Pucks with some blue tape. “Well, it's all in a day's work. If you've got a strange job,” Sean says.
- Matt is unimpressed. “I was in Lost in Space. We weren't actually lost in space.” “Ah, didn't see it.” “Really? Seen all your movies.”
- Carol is amused by the possibility of Beverly dating Morning’s brother, guarantees her six on the air if she wants to write a pilot about it.
- The one Friends jab that was enjoyably below-the-belt was Matt telling Schwimmer that Perry was probably high.