January 14, 2011

TV: Episodes (Showtime, Sun 9:30)

Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) are successful English TV writers. Their current show, Logan's Boys, has just finished its fourth season of winning every award in sight, and they've gotten the inevitable offer from an American TV exec to come to Los Angeles to do the remake. It'll be easy, says Merc (John Pankow); they can spend their days lounging around the pool, since the show's been written already.

But of course, Americans can never leave well enough alone, and Sean and Beverly are horrified to learn that Merc wants to change everything about the show, including firing their beloved star (a lovely cameo appearance by Richard Griffiths). As the first episode ends, the Lincolns are aghast to learn that the studio's found the perfect actor to play their wise, genteel, middle-aged, avuncaular headmaster -- Matt LeBlanc, who co-stars as "himself."

Mangan and Greig are a charming couple, and both their personal and working partnerships are completely convincing. Pankow's a bit obvious as the speak-before-you-think blustery TV producer, but Kathleen Rose Perkins is marvelous as his assistant, who tosses off the obligatory Hollywood compliments and insults with equal joy, and with equal lack of sincerity.

LeBlanc appears only briefly in the first episode, but the fact that he's willing to take a role like this at all suggests that he has a sense of humor about his image, and I think he always got less credit than he deserved for his work on Friends. (As for Joey, I think the problems with that show were deeper than LeBlanc.)

I enjoyed the first episode a lot, and I'm looking forward to see where this goes.

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