This review contains spoilers.
Episodes continues to zigzag in terms of quality. Last week’s episode wasn’t exactly to my taste but, thankfully, it seems to be back on track in this episode.
The plotline of Matt’s stalker Labia (Sophie Rundle) crops up again this week with Matt returning home to find her in his kitchen making biscuits in her pants. Some may think the nudity is just titillation, but I think it adds to the absurdism of the scene, enhancing the comedy to an extent. This story’s a bit of slow-burner at the moment but Labia’s cheerful obliviousness to her outrageous behaviour and Matt’s exasperation makes the scenes between them very enjoyable. Also, Rundle manages to imbue the character with a strange sense of likability, which is a tall order for somebody playing such an obviously disturbed character.
Meanwhile, production of Pucks! is back on track, with the problem of Morning’s sagging cheek implant being solved by some incredibly expensive CGI. But because it’s Sweeps month (a time where American TV viewing figures are evaluated), Merc is desperate for some kind of gimmick to boost the show’s flagging ratings. His solution is to get Matt to convince one of the cast of Friends to appear.
The story treads a fine line between light drama and comedy as both Matt and the audience discover that he has alienated the people he worked closely with for ten years because of his selfishness and boorish actions such as making anti-Semitic comments to David Schwimmer and urinating on Jennifer Aniston’s Emmy award. As well as this, it takes the standard potshots at the fakery of Hollywood with Matt and Merc being friendly when trying to get favours from people, and being abusive about them the rest of the time.
The eventual appearance of James Michael Tyler (recurring character Gunther in Friends) is fairly obvious from the start of a montage of Matt calling his former cast-mates but it’s still a nice resolution to a good story that’s neatly wrapped up without being too drawn-out. Though it’s a bit of shame that Tyler is only given a couple of lines and the relationship between him and Matt isn’t really used to its full potential.
I like to steer away from speculation in these reviews but I think that, eventually, Matt’s character being gradually deconstructed, his affair with Jamie, his having to present an award to Merc, and his problems with Labia will eventually tie together into a fairly big personal climax for his character, probably taking place at the award presentation. If not, then the series is being rather scattershot, setting Matt up with a large number of unrelated stories. Still, only time will tell. Speaking of Matt’s affair with Jamie, in this episode she’s conspicuously absent for the first time this series. Though, admittedly, it’s nice to have a breather from one of the various relationship triangles the programme is juggling. But at the same time, it feels odd that there is no mention whatsoever of Merc and Carol’s breakup, despite the fact that they were in a relationship for five years and that’s a large part of the makeup of their characters.
Elsewhere, Matt pressgangs Sean and Beverly into writing a speech for him to make when presenting Merc with the aforementioned award. The scenes between the trio finally bring closure to the strong build-up of a possible reconciliation between them. The conclusion of this story arc comes as a great surprise largely because of its timing which is what gives it its fairly sizeable impact. Other than this, there are some good jokes and Sean and Beverly’s two-hander scenes from series one are closely replicated in terms of tone and style. It’s also an interesting change of pace for the programme to include a sex scene that isn’t played for laughs.
Although it’s not a hugely funny instalment, it’s still got some great moments. The subversion of our expectations with Sean and Beverly’s arc is brilliant and really comes out of left-field, and it’s nice to see the programme find a balance between premise and character based stories. The trend of the series so far seems to be a good episode followed by a bad one. Let’s hope that next week breaks that pattern.
Read our review of last week’s episode, here.
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