Episodes series 2 episode 7 review

Review James T Cornish
23 Jun 2012 - 13:36

Matt LeBlanc's weight-gain is the focus in this week's Episodes, which delivers another strong instalment...

This review contains spoilers.

Character development is once again the name of the game in this week’s instalment of Episodes. Specifically Matt’s character development. And that’s both this episode’s best and its worst point.

The aspect of showbiz life that falls into writers Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane’s satirical crosshairs this week is Hollywood’s obsession with weight. It was a nice little running gag in series one but it’s this episode that really brings it into its own as a plot device. But rather than go with the obvious choice and make Beverly, Morning, or Carol the focus of the story, Craine and Klarik turn the expectation on its head and make Matt’s supposed weight gain the episode’s main plot as Merc and Carol believe that his weight gain is affecting the ratings of Pucks!, and enlist Sean and Beverly to tell to him to lose weight. There are a couple of good gags here and there that come from this story such as an unwanted shadow that Sean, Beverly and the director of Pucks! believe to be cast by Matt’s penis (the extreme size of which is a running gag) is revealed to caused by his pockets being filled with sweets. There’s also some brilliantly witty situational dialogue when Sean and Beverly tell Matt that he needs to lose weight, including a callback to Beverly sleeping with Matt, a plot that was dropped surprisingly early on this series. But this plot seems to mainly exist to further the ongoing and surprisingly deep plot of Matt’s decline.

The focal point of this plot is a montage of Matt at home where he basically gives up on everything after reading a vicious paparazzi article titled “Matt Leblob”. He proceeds to climb into the scotch bottle and the takeaway dish. One of the scenes is strangely reminiscent of the final scene of series 2 of Grandma’s House. Much like Simon Amstell in that scene, we see Matt eating junk food and watching videos of his past glory wondering what the hell happened to his life.  At the very end, he’s at such a low ebb, he deliberately invites his deranged stalker Labia to his house, just so he can have somebody around who loves him unconditionally - even if it is a total nutter who he has restraining order against. His storyline is finally coming full circle as he completes the transition from arrogant womaniser to pathetic has-been. And it’s absolutely brilliant.

The negative side is that this episode is almost completely ‘The Matt Leblanc Show’. There’s a minor sideplot about Beverly going on a date with Morning’s younger brother but it’s rather inconsequential and isn’t that funny or interesting. Beverly goes on the date (her first in more than a decade) and is incredibly awkward. And this level of awkward is really extreme. I’d argue that it even surpasses the masterful level of awkwardness in The Inbetweeners. The dialogue doesn’t really feel natural and it’s just a bit too tedious. Both Beverly and her date decide to write the rvening off and try again another time. The only part of the story that stirs up any interest is when Sean phones Beverly and discovers she’s on a date. But even that feels a bit flat.

Also, Sean gets pushed to the side and does very little in order to make room for these two plots. The same goes for Merc and Carol. It’s now two episodes after they ended their five year affair and there’s been no mention of it all. I think that if Crane and Klarik hadn’t attempted to juggle so many plots, the series would have felt a lot tighter and more focussed overall.

On a pretty minor note, Matt’s wife Diane (Fiona Glascott) continues to be a disappointing character for two reasons. One: the potential complex relationship between her and Matt that was established in her sole appearance in series one has disappeared as their relationship has devolved completely into her being belligerent towards him over the phone. Two: she’s not an engaging or amusing character largely because her dialogue mainly consists of profanity with no comedic value.

So, this episode’s got its good and bad points. The further deconstruction of Matt’s character is very gratifying and really imbues the series with a further sense of true depth, but at the same time it’s much too dominant. And the synopsis for next week’s episode implies that this is not set to change.

Read our review of last week's episode, here.

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