DVD Review: Episodes: The First And Second Season

Sections: Comedy, Movie Review, TV

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I don’t believe I’ve ever seen two seasons in the same DVD package that wasn’t a complete series box set, but that’s what our friends out at CBS Video have done with “Episodes: The First And Second Season”, a copy of which they sent out for us to review. This one won’t hit until January 8, so once again, you’re getting a very much advance look.

“Episodes” follows a real writing team, Sean and Beverly Lincoln, who happen to be a team in every sense of the word. Not only are they the writers of a successful British television series, “Lyman’s Boys”, they’re also husband and wife. They recently had the opportunity to bring their series to the United States, and of course, they jumped at the chance. But what they discovered when they made the leap to American television is that making American television is a lot different from making British television. That means a lot of changes for their series, but will they be changes that the writing team wants to make? And will they be the only changes the Lincolns will have to face down?

Needless to say, London and L.A. are two very different places. Watching the Lincolns try desperately to adapt to Los Angeles is no small thing, and features plenty of laughs. The almost stereotypically staidness of the British slams into California culture in a mix that, to use a line from “Episodes” itself, is “like oil and someone who sleeps with oil’s best friend”. Sean and Beverly are trying, almost frantically, to be polite in a world crammed to the gills with secrets, lies, phonies, and just plain old bizarre personalities, and it’s the kind of thing that’s downright hard to resist.

Moreover, it actually gets progressively worse. You’re literally watching the whole thing crumble, and Sean and Beverly try desperately to maintain their stiff upper lip in the midst of a crisis of ludicrous proportions. “Keep Calm and Carry On” only goes so far when you’ve got Matt LeBlanc–playing Matt LeBlanc, no less–telling you how hilarious he found a documentary about children with Tourette’s Syndrome. Granted, he felt guilty about enjoying it, but he enjoyed it nonetheless.

This is an absolutely bizarre series. Sure, there have been shows about television writers before going all the way back to “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, but at the same time, there aren’t a whole lot about transplanted writers trying to deal with a bizarre situation in a completely different culture. I can’t think of any offhand, and that lends this one a lot of unexpected joy. I laughed a lot here, and frankly, that’s one of the best things about this show. It’s funny. A comedy series that evokes laughs has, at its root, done its job and done it well. “Episodes” is fantastic stuff. Fair warning to those of more delicate constitutions, however, as “Episodes”–being a Showtime property–is almost aggressively profane. This is jammed full of those pesky “adult situations” and extended conversations about human genitalia and reproductive functions.

Extra features, however, won’t be near so fantastic. While we’ll get English and Spanish subtitles–always a plus–beyond that, we’ll get only cast biographies and a photo gallery.

Though the special features may be a bit light, there will be more than enough going on in the main DVD to make me wish this thing would go on for many more “Episodes” than it already has. Once again, Showtime and CBS DVD have a hilarious winner on their hands with “Episodes: The First and Second Season”, and for those who can handle the adult humor, you should have quite a time with this one.


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