Words: Gabriella Shimeld-Fenn
'Episodes' (2011) 'Episode 7'
SYNOPSIS: "Comedy series. The dreadful Pucks! pilot wraps and Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) prepare to return to London. However, a final goodbye between Matt LeBlanc and Sean takes an unexpected turn." (bbc.co.uk)
So we come to the conclusion of the first series of 'Episodes', and while I bemoaned it last week for its predictability, I have to admit that ending it with everything up in the air as far as Sean and Bev’s relationship is concerned was a great choice.
With Bev feeling incredibly guilty in the aftermath of her infidelity with LeBlanc, and convinced that 'Pucks' will never be commissioned into a full season, all she wants to do is go home. Sean, on the other hand, can’t resist one last drink with Matt and ends up sniffing out (literally) what happened between him and Bev when he calls in to visit him at home and Matt fails at any sort of subterfuge.
What follows is truly one of the most hilarious fights I’ve ever seen on TV, at various points involving bottles of cologne and a cactus, but when they both come limping back to Bev at the Lincolns’ mansion the tone switches sharply from slapstick to heartbreak.
Mangan and Greig manage to make a scene which could’ve easily descended into melodrama and cliché genuinely affecting. Mangan especially gives an emotional tour de force as Sean’s world is rocked to its very core, and he states "I don’t know if I can do this anymore." Luckily LeBlanc is there to ruin the moment with his emotionally stunted comments and ill-timed phone calls, leaving the Lincolns hanging in the balance and everything to play for if the show continues into a second series.
After a slow start and a few glitches I feel that 'Episodes' would be able to mature into a compelling show if given the green light for further episodes, though I do think it was a mistake to market it initially as more of a comedy, when the drama aspect is just as pertinent. It did seem to take a while for the writers to find a balance between these two aspects, and it could be argued that they still haven't totally succeeded, but you would hope they would be more successful if the show were to carry on.
'Episodes' certainly isn’t a groundbreaking piece of television, but the excellent cast are able to do a lot more with the script then you would first expect, and the half-hour format of the episodes luckily doesn’t leave much room for plodding exposition. It has also been great to see what Matt LeBlanc is really capable of as an actor - anyone who is as unafraid to play with his image and public persona as he is should definitely be commended.
Watch 'Episode 7' until 23.59, Monday 28 February. Pre-order the DVD at amazon.co.uk.