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Now that I have seen two episodes of the Showtime original series EPISODES I have to say that I can’t wait to see the other five episodes of EPISODES.

The premise of the show is very simple and, even though I’ve never been in the actual television business, I’m sure it is also very real in many ways. The highly persuasive and extremely over-complimentary network president MERC LEPIDUS (John Pankow) approaches SEAN and BEVERLY LINCOLN (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) right after their show LYMAN’S BOYS has dominated the BAFTA Awards. He has to have their show and he promises they’ll have to do very little work to make the show more accessible to the American audience for lots and lots of money. SEAN is seduced at the idea and he convinces BEVERLY it would be great for their careers.

The very first episode is about establishing the situation that the rest of the season will be playing from. Time is needed to both set up the situation as well as let us get a glimpse of the absurdity that is to come. In a clever way to hook us in to wanting to see this story to completion our first few moments of the episode are spent in the present where we are shown how the experience of trying to adapt LYAMAN’S BOYS for the US has torn SEAN and BEVERLY apart. After these scenes play out we are told “Seven weeks earlier…” and our story cuts to the aforementioned BAFTA awards.

I don’t want to go into how quickly this dream gig that the LINCOLN’s think they have begins to spiral out of control. I really think it would do the show an injustice to try to describe them as they are much better experienced rather than discussed. I do have to note, however, that one bit of subtle comedy that I love is provided by MYRA (Daisy Haggard) who is the Head of Comedy Development for MERC’s network. MYRA has the same awkward scowling smile on her face, one that makes it appear that she is being attacked on the inside by her own sinuses, and it is present in every scene that she is in. Her face was so twisted by this pained look that I almost didn’t recognize Haggard from her appearance in this last season’s THE LODGER episode of DOCTOR WHO (my only exposure to her being this side of the pond).

One of the reasons that EPISODES is getting alot of press is because it is the return of Matt LeBlanc to television since his FRIENDS spin-off JOEY went off the air. LeBlanc plays MATT LEBLANC, a fictional version of himself. In the first episode we only see him for a few moments and by episode’s end we find out how he will be seen further in the show. LEBLANC’s performance in EPISODES for me is quite the highlight since he plays this fictional version of himself with a level of sincerity I wasn’t expecting that he blows up within moments of expressing. With the content of the show this proves a level of humility that LEBLANC must have as some parts of the show are not kind to him. LeBlanc proves however that he’s not Joey, he’s just an actor looking to work which is something he does very well in EPISODES.

As I’ve eluded to before EPISODES only has a seven episode run on SHOWTIME on Sundays at 9:30 PM. Be sure to catch it while you can.

Now let’s see what is available this week for our viewing pleasure.

TUESDAY

NBC - 8:00 PM: Tonight on THE BIGGEST LOSER the unknown trainers are revealed even though clever Netizens have already figured out who they are.

THE CW - 8:00 PM: It’s the final few episodes of LIFE UNEXPECTED in a two hour send-off far too soon for this show.

ABC - 8:00 PM: JIM worries he may have to reveal his secret when the police station is taken hostage on NO ORDINARY FAMILY. A DIE HARD style plot already?

NBC - 10:00 PM: SARAH freaks out over the gift-paper sales target DREW has to hit on PARENTHOOD. If she thinks that is bad she’d collapse under GIRL SCOUT COOKIE pressure.

WEDNESDAY

DISCOVERY - 7:00 PM: The MYTHBUSTERS SUPERSIZED SPECIAL is so huge it had to be moved to an hour before prime time!

FOX - 8:00 PM: Yes, it was unavoidable… the beast that is AMERICAN IDOL is back with a cast face lift. J-LO joins RANDY JACKSON, I don’t know who the other new chick is. Oh, sorry, that’s STEVEN TYLER? His face and the GOLDEN GLOBES are all the evidence you need to know plastic surgery is bad, mmmkay?

ABC - 9:00 PM: CLAIRE and PHIL are caught… um… well, the kids try to surprise them with breakfast in bed on tonight’s MODERN FAMILY. ’nuff said?

NBC - 9:00 PM: Tonight on CHASE… oh who am I kidding? No one’s watching this.

THURSDAY

FOX - 8:00 PM: More auditions and more of me not giving a $#it on AMERICAN IDOL.

NBC - 8:00 PM: Tonight we get to see SHIRLEY’s ex-husband on COMMUNITY and it turns out it was THEO HUXTABLE! (Malcolm Jamal-Warner guests in case you didn’t get what I did there.)

ABC - 8:00 PM: Tonight’s installment of WIPEOUT is titled DON’T FEAR THE BEAVER. I don’t know what it means but I’m still giggling.

NBC - 9:30 PM: The good: PARKS & RECREATION is back which means a whole new season of RON “F’ing” SWANSON. The bad? 30 ROCK gets bumped to 10:00 PM.

FRIDAY

CBS - 8:00 PM: Tonight contains the last dream that the fictional ALLISON DUBOIS dreams on MEDIUM.

FOX - 9:00 PM: Will FRINGE fly or falter on Friday night? We may find out tonight as CHRISTOPHER LLOYD guests. Maybe if it doesn’t work out he can help them get BACK to the THURSDAY. It’s really not a good thing that this first episode is titled FIREFLY.

SATURDAY

NBC - 8:00 PM: Miss the return of CHUCK on Monday night? Nothing better to do? Here you go.

ABC FAMILY - 8:00 PM: Strangest double feature of the night: MEAN GIRLS followed by ENCHANTED.

ABC - 9:00 PM: Want to know how bad the choices are for viewing tonight? I’m seriously considering the network edited copy of BLADES OF GLORY for viewing.

SUNDAY

NFC and AFC championsips pretty much have the networks throwing in the towel. Here’s what little I could scrape up.

SYFY - 6:30 PM: TOTAL RECALL? Get your ass to Mars!

SHO - 8:00 PM: Want to get caught up on the aforementioned EPISODES? You can see the second episode of EPISODES at 8:00 before the new episode at 9:30.

FOX - 8:30 PM: I just realized that I have yet to watch BOB’S BURGERS. Whooops.

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