"Episodes" epilogue: Showtime's Hollywood satire turns its final page

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20 August 2017

SHOWTIME, Aug. 20, 10:00 PM ET

By Ryan A. Berenz

A show about failed TV shows turned out to be a big success. Episodes, which gave the world a hilarious new perspective on Matt LeBlanc, premieres its fifth and final season Sunday on Showtime.

Creators, writers and executive producers David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik felt the time was right to end the series. “To have the opportunity to end it the way you want to end it before people tell you to leave is great,” Klarik says. “Just to put a bow on it was really satisfying.”

As the season begins, Matt (LeBlanc) is host of the ridiculous but popular game show The Box, and may never be taken seriously as an actor again. Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) are out as showrunners of The Opposite of Us, and now must yield to Stephen’s talentless ex-partner, Tim (Bruce Mackinnon). Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) is unemployed after discovering her new job didn’t exist.

“The last season of anything is always a little bittersweet, melancholy,” LeBlanc says. “But we felt like we told our story. It’s a very poignant ending. It’s a very strong season. There’s a lot of really, really funny stuff. Sean, Beverly and Matt are together a lot, which in my opinion is the key to the show.”

“At the heart of the show are Matt, Sean and Beverly,” Crane says. “It’s a show about that friendship and that marriage, and what it’s like for Sean and Beverly to come to America and have Matt LeBlanc take over their lives.”

Episodes might have a future spinoff, in a bizarre life-imitating-art kind of way.

“We actually had meetings with real people who talked about their ideas for turning The Box into an actual show,” Crane says. Crane and Klarik made up the intentionally absurd The Box — in which contestants try to spend 17 weeks confined in a glass box — but didn’t expect it to take on a life of its own while they were writing those scenes.

“We’d been making fun of this game show and suddenly, Jeffrey and I had to actually come up with two weeks of a game show,” Crane says. “And uddenly we’re debating what are advantages and disadvantages, and how do you get points, and we were writing questions. It was crazy. Suddenly, we’re actually making the game show. For about a week, we stepped out of Episodes and lived in The Box.”
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