'Comedy about a comedy' Episodes stars Matt LeBlanc, Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan
Here comes one of those ‘wonder why no one had thought of that before?’ ideas. The ever-increasing number of British comedies (from The Office to Shameless starring William H Macy) flying their way Stateside for a transatlantic overhaul is a scenario rife with sitcom possibilities. We are, so it keeps being said, two nations separated by a common language, which makes for much fish-out-of-water potential. Being a comedy about a comedy, Episodes (BBC2, Mon 10 Jan, 10pm) could have overplayed every hand that’s dealt to it, but thanks to deliciously funny performances and pinsharp writing, it’s already embossed with the stamp of a hit that could run for a decade.
The big surprise is that even though it’s defiantly a show coming from the British viewpoint, it’s actually written by Americans, including David Crane, he of Bright/Kauffman /Crane Friends fame. Less of a shocker is that we get pitch-perfect displays from Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan as a husband-and-wife scripting team whose award-winning show about a stuffy headmaster at a public school gets virtually snatched by a US studio. As soon as the pair land in LA, their problems truly begin as the execs insist on substantial changes, the biggest of which is dumping a Shakespearean Brit for Matt LeBlanc. Yes, you can probably see where all this is headed already, but going along for the ride turns out to be an irresistible treat.