'Episodes' returns with crazier characters, strained relationships

Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:04pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Who knew that making a television comedy would be so stressful?

Strained marriages and friendships are put to the test as Showtime's satirical comedy "Episodes" delivers more of the narcissistic actors, crazy network heads and chaotic situations that dominate Hollywood's television industry.

"Episodes," developed by "Friends" creator David Crane and partner Jeffrey Klarik, follows the journey of married British couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln, who come to Hollywood to remake their successful British TV show for a U.S. audience.

But season one showed the couple battling the dysfunctional personalities running Hollywood's television industry, who change the show to a sitcom called "Pucks" starring "Friends" actor Matt LeBlanc. LeBlanc plays an acidic version of himself in the show and becomes good friend with Sean. In season two, the couple become estranged after Beverly has an affair with Matt.

"Episodes" returns this Sunday, and picks up the story from the morning after the explosive night at an awards show which concluded the last season, where Sean and Beverly finally reconciled.

"It's a pendulum swing of disaster and longing between (Sean and Beverly) of wanting to find one another but trying to keep themselves protected from the terror of their universe that they're having to exist in," British actress Tamsin Greig, who plays Beverly, told Reuters.

British actor Stephen Mangan, who plays Sean, said while his character began the first season as "the most wide-eyed, innocent of the lot," in season three, Sean has to come to terms with the fact that Matt will never change his selfish ways.

And to add to the already chaotic mix of self-involved actors and network executives, the new season sees a new head honcho to replace Merc, the seemingly charming Castor, who actually is a little unhinged.   Continued...

Executive producer David Crane participates in the panel for "Episodes" during the CBS, Showtime and the CW Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 29, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Phil McCarten