Like many, I was a huge fan of Friends and because I enjoyed the character of Joey so much I gave the spin-off Joey a go, but sadly it didn't live up to expectations. Fast forward a few years and Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey in Friends appears on our screens once again in a new transatlantic comedy series called Episodes.
Episodes first came to our screens in the UK in January 2011 as a co-production between the BBC in the UK and Showtime in the US. The series was created by David Crane (Friends & Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You).
The series follows happily married couple Sean & Beverly Lincoln (Stephen Mangan, Green Wing & Tamsin Greig, Green Wing, Love Soup) from the UK who move to Hollywood after the success of their comedy series Lyman's Boys after Hollywood were keen to make a remake. However Richard Griffiths who was originally in the lead role as school teacher wasn't quite right for the US market, and the role is changed to hockey coach and Lyman's Boys becomes Pucks.
Undoubtedly the biggest selling point of the show is Matt LeBlanc (see image right) and his portrayal of... himself! Albeit a slightly exagerrated version of himself, or as I like to see it a mix between the actual Matt LeBlanc and the fictional Joey Tribbiani. Matt's 'character' spends a lot of time chasing the ladies including Tamsin Greig's character Beverley.. Matt is chosen to play the part of hockey coach in the American remake of Lyman's Boys renamed Pucks.
The series is one of a kind in that it is co-produced by the UK and America and therefore has to cater to both sense of humours. Although most UK audiences are open to American comedy and are still able to find their jokes funny, some American audiences find the British humour a little difficult to understand. This is perhaps the reason as to why most UK sitcoms are remade in the US rather than transmitted in its original form. Ricky Gervais presenting the Golden Globes is a perfect example where the British sense of humour wasn't quite understood by the American audience.
Despite this initial problem with the concept, the show does so really well and should hopefully pave the way for more transatlantic comedies.Tonight saw the second series debut on BBC Two in the UK with a US premiere on July 1. The best part of the first series was setting up the series and deciding which route the remake would make and what changes would be made, as well as setting up each of the characters and their relationships with one another, sometimes more than just friendly.
In the first episode of the new series, the series Pucks finally air in the US with impressive first night ratings to match. It seems that the show's early success has had an impact on the characters love lives, with the characters not knowing what to do.
It's great to see Matt LeBlanc back on form and Episodes gave Matt his first EVER Golden Globe for 'Best Actor in a Comedy Series', something he was unable to achieve whilst in Friends. If anything this goes to show what a great series Episodes is and how well received it has been by the critics. And rightly so, after the disappointment that was Joey, I really hoped that Episodes would not go the same way and of course it didn't.
So how would I sum up the series? Well, there's no studio audience so it's certainly no Friends and there aren't those playing for laughs lines. But rather the humour comes out of the situations the character's find themselves in, a return to the 'sitcom' I guess. And there's no doubting the comedy credentials of the three main actors so that partnered with what I think is some great writing has produced a great new comedy series that I'm hoping will run and run.
It goes without saying that after a brilliant return episode, I'm really looking forward to seeing what else is in store for Matt, Sean and Beverly in this extended nine episode run.
Will Matt rekindle his one night stand with Beverly or has he got his eyes set on other ladies? And will Sean play into temptation and play Beverly at her own game? And more importantly, will Pucks continue to perform well in the ratings? Who knows, I guess we'll have to tune in every week to find out!