With the second series of Episodes now a third of the way through, it’s unfortunately becoming clear that series two could have been made with a lower episode count. I’m not knocking the fact that this series has more episodes. The programme is reliably funny with a very strong cast. But when you stretch out the episode count of a series beyond a vital number of episodes, you get an instalment like this.
Having just watched the episode, I’m struggling to work out how its story fits in with the show’s premise as a whole. Episodes is about the making of a bastardised remake of an acclaimed sitcom. This episode is about network executive Merc Lapidus’s father dying. A character who has never been seen and has no connection to events in the series whatsoever.
All the episode seems to do is take potshots at the superficiality of dealing with grief in Hollywood, and include an obligatory “Merc is an arsehole” moment, as he halts his father’s funeral service to make a phone call to Matthew Broderick’s agent. The jibes at the importance of keeping up appearances in Hollywood work well but they’re stretched a bit too thin. With the situational gags being a bit laboured and there being absolutely no focus on the making of sitcom-within-a-sitcom ‘Pucks!’, it comes as a relief that there’s some pretty decent character-based scenes, the most notable of which is Matt’s anecdote about attending Orson Welles’ funeral. To the episode’s credit, some of the story arcs do move further on but the resolution of the birthday present plot point from the first episode feels a bit rushed, and Jamie and Matt’s storyline seems to be slowing. Also, it feels that the focus of the show is shifting as it becomes more and more soap opera-esque with affairs being more prominent plot points. This episode in particular comes across more of a comedy of manners than anything else.
The only real standout scene is a nice little moment between Beverly and Sean at the funeral where the implications of their separation really hit home. Beyond that, the episode is largely inconsequential and could have easily been axed with its arc furthering scenes shunted to another episode. Overall, some good moments but an unnecessary story that would have done better as a subplot rather than the focus of whole episode. The previews for next week however, indicate that the next episode will return to focussing more on the original premise, which comes as something of a relief.
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