Thanks to the host of fabulous supporting characters, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig’s Sean and Beverly can take a back seat in tonight’s finale of Episodes. The carnage unfolds around the two bemused Brits-in-LA as the deftly plotted show comes to a hilarious conclusion on BBC2.
I won’t spoil things but suffice to say the Matt/Merc Lapidus feud reaches an exquisitely absurd climax on the set of their new gameshow The Box. And new studio boss Helen Basch’s envious suspicions about her girlfriend Carol also come to a head in a rollicking 30 minutes where the only consolation about the series’ end is the fact that there will be a fifth around the corner.
Or as Matt might put it: Bring on the Bugs! (You’ll find out tonight what this means.)
So why has it been so good?
Well, this series has played to its strengths – and its chief weapon is of course LeBlanc himself.
He has been on screen a lot more in a series that has been unafraid of pushing the boundaries of taste when it comes to his morally questionable but oddly endearing alter-ego.
One of the strongest episodes saw Matt agree to a paid celebrity appearance at a war criminal’s birthday party in order to alleviate his growing financial worries. It was either that or a sex tape leak to shore up the hole in his bank balance caused by his dodgy accountant. And right at the end there was a short but exquisite cameo from his co-star David Schwimmer.
Also, it was a good decision by Klarik and Crane to call time on the bed-hopping-fuelled rows between LeBlanc, Mangan and Greig’s characters and create more moments throughout the series for the sublimely talented trio to riff off each other in the same scene. (Although tonight, as the picture below shows, they are mainly by-standers watching the ghastly events unfold).
And the other characters have been judiciously deployed as well. I loved the return of Merc Lapidus (John Pankow) and the reappearance of Bruce Mackinnon as Sean’s former writing partner (or “that Tim guy” as he is known in LA) was fabulously squirm-inducing.
Carol Rance has always been a favourite character of mine and Kathleen Rose Perkins once again acted her socks off in the role. The neurotic executive’s haplessness when coping with the intense amorous attentions of her boss Helen Basch (Andrea Savage) have been a delight, along with virtually every moment she has been on screen. She even walks in a funny way.
After the end of the last series some unkind souls suggested that – like the fictional Pucks! which the show revolved around – Episodes should have long been put out of its misery.
How wrong they were. The way it’s going I can see it carrying on for a good while yet.
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