Comedy hit Episodes, starring Matt LeBlanc, Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan, is back after a long wait for its fifth and final series. Creators David Crane - who co-created Friends - and Jeffrey Klarik, talk about why it is ending now and how it is the closest thing to a Friends reunion we’ll ever get.
ARE YOU SAD THAT EPISODES IS ENDING, OR IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME?
I wasn’t sad that it was ending until we realised it actually is ending, and every so often something happens and we think, ‘Damn, that would have been such a great bit, I wish we were still shooting’. But I think we’re doing the right thing, and I like the idea of people wanting more rather than kind of yawning and saying... again?
This was probably the most enjoyable season to make and with Jeffrey directing this year, he did a really great job and so it was us going out on a high. As bittersweet as it is, it was a really good year.
IS IT SOMETHING THAT COULD POTENTIALLY BE REVISITED YEARS DOWN THE LINE?
I think that, unlike Friends, it could be revisited, sure.
I don’t know if it will, but it could, absolutely.
IS IT SOMETHING YOU EVER TALK ABOUT?
We talk about spinning it off, in a way. What would happen if American writers had to come to Britain to do a show? There are lots of versions we talk about.
And, unlike Friends - which was about a finite period of time in your life in your 20s - these characters can mature and it doesn’t hurt what the essence of the show is about.
IS THAT FINITE TIME THING THE MAIN REASON THAT FRIENDS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN?
We did it, and it’s done, we put a bow on Friends and you know, if you want to watch Friends now, it’s still on television.
The irony is, people think that’s what they want and you just know... it’s like going to your high school reunion, it’s such a disappointment. You’re like, ‘Oh my God, what happened to her?’
Right now, it’s preserved exactly as it should be. You don’t want a bunch of people in their 50s in the coffee house!
THERE IS A LOT OF FOCUS ON THE CLASH OF THE BRITISH AND AMERICAN SIDES OF THINGS IN EPISODES. DO YOU FIND THE TWO DIFFERENT AUDIENCES REACT DIFFERENTLY?
It’s funny, because I find there are a lot of American references that can go over Brits’ heads. But I think, in general, people respond to funny the same way, and I think slapstick is a universal language.
DO YOU FIND WRITING THE BRITISH PARTS DIFFICULT, AS AMERICANS?
To me, we write the characters like I would write Paul and Jamie on Mad About You, or how we would write Rachel and Ross in Friends - they’re just characters who happen to have accents.
It’s really embarrassing because when we write it we tend to do a lot of stuff out loud to each other, and when we’re writing it we do Sean and Beverly with British accents. They are appalling, absolutely appalling.
To me it sounds perfect!
DO YOU THINK A SHOW LIKE THIS COULD HAVE WORKED WITH ANY OF THE OTHER STARS OF FRIENDS?
When we came up with the idea for Episodes, we were thinking about what the final nail in Sean and Beverly’s coffin would be as writers - what is that one thing that American television does to destroy their show?
And when Jeffrey said, ‘It’s Matt LeBlanc’... if Matt had said no, we would not have done it. He is the perfect person for this show.
David Schwimmer wouldn’t have been funny. Matthew Perry wouldn’t have been funny. I mean, they’re stuck with Joey, it’s the persona of Joey. Especially because he is replacing Richard Griffiths in Sean and Beverly’s show!
Episodes is on BBC Two.