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Episodes: The Fourth Season (2015)
DVD Released: 4/5/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/30/2016
Most television fans anxiously await the return of their favorite shows, and with the growth of cable and premium channel shows, sometimes that wait can be an unreasonably long time. But, what do we look forward to the most? Is it the fact that we've missed the characters? Do we want to dive back into the story? Are we simply bored and can't wait to have something to fill our schedules? Whatever the case, there is nothing quite like diving back into a beloved show. As I don't have Showtime, I wait for the DVD release to catch up on Episodes, and this time, the wait was 15 months. But, now Season Four is here and I must decide -- Is it the characters? Is it the story? What makes Episodes work?
Season 3 of Episodes ended with Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly Lincoln (Tamsin Greig) finally ending their nightmare of working on the show "Pucks" in Los Angeles and moving back to London. However, a series of petty jealousies, involving star Matt LeBlanc (Matt LeBlanc) and the head of the network, leads to an order for more episodes of "Pucks" and suddenly Sean and Beverly are back in L.A. Their desire to leave California has lead them to ignore agent Eileen Jaffe (Andrea Rosen) who really wants to help them sell their script for a new show. But, since they are stuck in town, they decide to take some meetings. Meanwhile, Matt learns that his late accountant stole millions from him and he must find a way to make some money, which leads him to consider getting back with his ex. A new executive (Andrea Savage) comes to the network and Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) finds herself drawn into an awkward relationship with her new boss. Meanwhile, Sean and Beverly soon learn that nothing good happens in Hollywood.
I'm the kind of person who likes to "pro & con" things, and I always try to focus on the "pro". When I'm making a decision or trying to evaluate something, nothing helps me like a good "pros & cons" list. Season 4 of Episodes has one big "con" -- It's not very different from the first three seasons of the show. But, as it turns out, that is actually a "pro", because why mess with a winning formula.
Yes, Season 4 is filled with the things which the series has become known for; Sean and Beverly find themselves in sticky situations and wonder why they every came to Hollywood; Matt LeBlanc is a loudmouth who can't stay out of trouble; Carol is the ultimate "Yes Man" and her need to please never gets her anywhere. The show does not divert from its plan and that is fine by me.
It may seem "sitcommy" to have the same things happen over and over, but Episodes distances itself from other shows by putting its characters through the wringer. The crux of the show is the Sean and Beverly can never be happy. Every time something goes right for them, something else immediately goes wrong. It almost becomes a game with the audience as we wait to see which shoe will drop next and what that shoe will contain. Similarly, Matt LeBlanc should be happy, as he's a working actor, but he's constantly striving for more money and more sex and this ultimately gets him nowhere. Carol's character has always been an important part of the show, but her story arc is more prominent in Season 4, as we watch her get into a situation for which there is seemingly no escape.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, it may sound like somewhat of a downer, as bad things are constantly happening, but it also happens to be one of the funniest shows on television. Although this technically isn't a British comedy, it often has the tone of one, as there is a constant onslaught of snarky, clever one-liners which sometimes go so fast that they can easily be missed. There is also much broader humor, most of which surrounds LeBlanc's character. Some of this is scatological, and the show doesn't hesitate to enjoy the freedom of being on Showtime. Of course, the entire purpose of the series is to skewer Hollywood and if you know the industry, you will find a lot to like here. (Beverly in the giftbag room is a classic scene.) Last but not least, there is the incredibly strange character of Myra (Daisy Haggard), who gets her own small story arc in this season. Of course, Episodes isn't for everyone, but if you have a general knowledge of the entertainment industry and enjoy sardonic humor, you'll find something to love here. I just hate that I'll probably have to wait over a year to see what happens next.
Episodes: The Fourth Season makes us wonder how much a plane costs on DVD courtesy of Showtime. The two-disc set contains all nine episodes from the show's 4th season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source material. The series is shot in a very natural style, as the colors look realistic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is a bit soft at times and the depth is about what one would expect from a TV show. The Disc carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The voices are always audible, and the music and sound effects never overpower the dialogue. We get some mild stereo and surround sound effects during crowd scenes, but otherwise the bulk of the audio comes from the center channel.
The lone extra feature on the Episodes: The Fourth Season DVD set is a series of text biographies for the main cast members.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long