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'Episodes' Advance Review: Making Fun Of The Hand That Feeds You

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My week of Showtime previews continues with a look at Episodes, the second new series that the network will debut on January 9 (the first being Shameless). Episodes focuses on a British couple named Beverly and Sean (Green Wing costars Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan) who experience culture shock when their successful UK television series is adapted for an American audience. As a fan of many British shows, several of which have been butchered in American translation - in fact, Episodes rings amusingly like the story of the Brit sitcom Coupling - I have to say this is a neat and probably long overdue idea for a premise.

Most of the early attention has gone to the fact that Matt LeBlanc is playing himself, or at least, a version of himself - presumably because he's the most recognizable name to American audiences. However, if you're a British TV geek like myself, you'll find a lot to love here. If you've seen either Black Books or Green Wing, you know how funny Greig and Mangan can be in the most outrageous of situations, and The Worst Week of My Life's Ben Miller turns up briefly in the first episode. Producers David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You) also cash in their connections here - besides LeBlanc, Mad About You veteran John Pankow co-stars as blustery producer Merc Lapidus.

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