“Front door ajar”
S01E01 I’ll be honest. This is the worst episode of Episodes. It’s nothing like the rest of the show which gradually gets better and better as it goes on. But if you want a big pay off, you need a big set up and thus we have the pilot.
For some reason we start off right in the middle of things, seven weeks into the Lincoln’s adventure in America. We don’t precisely know what it is about Sean that upsets Beverly, but she storms out of the house with the security system delightfully announcing the opening of each attempt at leaving. I guess the reason behind this was to show that the drama does eventually grow to something beyond the “my job is so hard and people in LA are so stupid!” type of the thing the rest of the pilot presents.
Of course, it could also be an excuse to see Matt LeBlanc since this is the only time he's present in the first episode. In fact, we don’t even hear his name until the very end. Considering he is the top billed actor, perhaps this little preview was to reassure the audience to not worry - “Joey will be here soon.”
“There is a chance Merc might not actually have seen your show”
The rest of the episode is spent setting up the narrative arc and introducing all the main players (save LeBlanc, of course). Merc Lapidus is a big talking, hard ass, stereotypical American media executive. He talks a huge game and says everything you want to hear and never hears a negative word he doesn’t want to hear. While Sean and Beverly often trade their witty barbs like the good British comedy writers they are, Lapidus delivers most of the memorable lines. Like a typical American, deft and tact are not his strong suits. “Now I want to have sex with your show and these berries,” he tells the Lincoln's within the first five minutes of meeting them.
Carol, the network executive go-between for the Lincoln's and Lapidus, doesn’t appear to have a prominent role in this episode, but she slowly becomes one of the better characters of the series. I honestly think that she wants the show to succeed and really wants to be friends with the Lincoln's. But due to her LA jadedness and the slight cultural discrepancies between Britain and the U.S. they don’t get off on the right foot. Her extreme desire to be relentless positive was funny if a little annoying, but the sour-faced executive in charge of comedy was hysterical. I’ve never wanted to laugh at and punch someone in the face at the same time before, so Episodes at least managed to do that.
“My negative bends your positive over the sofa and buggers its from behind.” “My positive did not enjoy that.”
The quote above pretty much sums up Sean and Beverly’s relationship. And as the stars of the show, they’re quite boring when together. Their relationship is such a drag because when they’re happy together they’re fine, but since this is a situational comedy, they get put into situations. Which totally sucks. Beverly is such a buzzkill and Sean is such a putz it's a wonder they managed to develop a show and maintain a relationship at the same time. When they are alone together in a room, the momentum just drops. Luckily, they’re rarely together.
In dealings with other people, however, they are far more entertaining. When Sean was so shocked at Carol admitting that Lapidus had never seen the show and could barely utter any words, Beverly chimed in with “you’re articulating it just fine.” They work best when someone else is around to fill their void and, thankfully, Matt LeBlanc often does it later.
“All right, I believe we have seen enough. I know the way out. I have been here before. Thank me very much for coming in to death. Lets hope to heaven there’s a bar in the hotel.”
Speaking of LeBlanc, as previously noted he wasn’t in that much of the episode (and by that much, I mean not at all). But we did have the treat of Richard Griffiths playing the original actor for the original show coming in to re-audition for the part he created. He was an absolute delight, jolly and well mannered, he humored the network executives with an audition despite the fact that he hasn’t auditioned in nearly 20 years. But when an American accent proved too vexing, he realized that he made a fool of himself, showed himself out the door, slyly insulted everyone and nevertheless appeared as cordial as you would expect a serious British actor to be.
All the negative comments I have about this episode are exclusive to the pilot. Everything that worked in it is prevalent throughout the season. Episodes will dutifully shed all that would hold it back over the next few episodes, slowly but surely. If you enjoyed this episode in the slightest, you need to continue to tune in. It only gets better.