Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Episodes explodes

Showtime's Episodes completed their second season this week. Everything came to a head at Merc's (John Pankow) Man of the Year ceremony. The cheaters were exposed, someone got fired, and an estranged couple realized exactly how they felt about each other. It was like last season's car wreck, but bigger, more metaphorical, and affecting more people. Needless to say, Episodes deserves an as-yet-unordered third season.

Merc took on a greater importance in season two, especially in how the women in his life felt about him. Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) grew more devoted, while Merc's wife, Jamie (Genevieve O'Reilly) became less, cheating on him with Matt (Matt LeBlanc). Merc's bosses took a similar tack as his wife, and the show set Merc up to lose everything except Carol, whom he ends up not appreciating enough to keep, either.

If Episodes continues, it is possible it will be without Merc. He no longer runs the network, and Carol has shut off relations, effectively blocking him out of all proceedings. But with the brilliance Pankow plays the break down in the season finale, how can the show stand to let him go? Surely, he can be roped back into the proceedings somehow, maybe begging Carol into taking him back, and mooching off of her? It would be well within the bounds of how the characters have been painted up to this point. Carol may get angry with him, but she always forgives, no matter how little he deserves it.

Jamie, on the other hand, seems to be done with her husband. The question is, though, will Matt want a serious relationship with her? Or will he get bored, as he does the other women in his life, cheating on her, too? The two of them have been a fun pairing in season two, but there doesn't appear to be a path forward for them. The chemistry just isn't right, and Matt's womanizing ways have got to take over. He can show growth as a character, but Episodes can't make him do a 180 over night.

Beverly (Tamsin Greig) and Sean (Stephen Mangan), on the other hand, have got to make it work. After nine episodes apart, it is gratifying to see Sean forgive her after she is elbowed in the face. They may be a bit bumbling, but there's always been a strong bond of love between them, and it's obvious that they should be together. Episodes didn't force the split, keeping true to the characters, but it also couldn't leave them apart much longer and still feel authentic. Thank goodness that particular drama is over.

Which sets up the show within a show, Pucks, to have a smooth beginning of season three. With Carol in charge instead of Merc, Bev and Sean should be able to make the show they want, which should prove more popular than the current, failing model, as they've already demonstrated how great they can be with the original British incarnation. So what problems might crop up? And could they have anything to do with Morning (Mircea Monroe), who, as understanding as she appears to be about Sean and Bev's reconciliation, didn't seem all that happy to be going home alone?

Episodes is a great series that wonderfully balances huge slapstick, like the fist fight in this season finale, with more subtle charm and humor. Its audience may not be huge, but the acting is fantastic, and the writing is entertaining. It deserves to continue. Hopefully, it will.

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