Checking In With The Friends

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Hope you had a great Presidents’ Day. Did you give – while you relaxed/ate/snoozed/skied/danced/visited – some  thought to the things you’d insist upon/hope for/order/negotiate/demand if YOU were President of the United States? Yup, I did too.

So here’s to the power of persuasion. Not to suggest that I’m especially susceptible to it because I am the youngest of seven children (although that didn’t hurt). But when it comes to sitting around with lots of ultra-opinionated people, I do tend to nod a lot. Sometimes I capitulate wholeheartedly because, well, I do. And when everyone said to me last week “Gee, I cannot imagine why anyone would go see a Liam Neeson movie again – especially if it’s got the exact same plot as the last one,” I thought, you’re right. So when it came time to predict box office success, I was all over I Am Number Four. Turns out? That one should have been called I Am Number Three because that’s where it landed, behind Unknown and Gnomeo and Juliet…because everyone decided they would go see another Liam Neeson flick.  (Personally, I woulda been there as I am a big Liam fan, but it – like the last one – looked a tad too violent for my youngest child sensibilities). So bravo Liam on your US box office success.

Now, what I really wanted to talk about today was actually the power of seven weeks.  What can be accomplished in seven weeks? Think about it – that’s about the length of a new relationship, an excellent – or unendurable – summer camp stint, the gestation for many large land mammals, etc.  You can actually get a lot done in seven weeks. Usually a season of television is twenty-two weeks.  Showtime’s latest, Episodes, just culminated its first season in seven weeks. Seven episodes of Episodes, starring Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc, is all we get, so far.  Fortunately, if you missed it you can watch all seven of them again, which I would recommend. The premise is simple: a married English husband and wife team of writers, who have a hot TV series on their hands about a very English boarding school, get wooed by Hollywood. Brassy TV network types tell them their show will be a hit stateside, and thus the pair travel to the very alien Hollywood. There, they try (awkwardly) to adapt to life there and to making a very British TV series about a very British boy’s boarding school suitable for, well, American audiences. The hitch of course, is that they must use Matt LeBlanc as the lead. The show is caustic, smart, smarmy and very, very funny and I couldn’t have liked it more. But they only made seven shows so far. Did I think it would last more than seven weeks? Absolutely. Will the show continue? Who knows?  That’s up to the real life network executives who handle the part where shows get “picked up” or canceled. Me? I hope it gets picked up. But I also know that being on premium cable like Showtime is a luxury because we often see regular old network newcomers canceled after three or four episodes. And quite honestly, when it comes to storytelling, they did an awesome job here because they managed to get everything we needed to know – and then some – across in an incredibly short time. Obviously I’d like to see more, but whoever’s behind this thing ought to be commended for taking seven weeks (frequently nowhere near enough time to get a clumsy, messy garden variety show off the ground) and yet these guys gave it an excellent beginning, middle, and end.  I say Bravo, Showtime. Regardless of what you do next with what looks like a winning combination of scripts and actors, you sure did what a great network outta do in less time than it takes to order and receive a couch from Macy’s. Here’s to more Episodes.

Today’s poll:

Former Friends’ stars are everywhere on TV and film right now. Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of them is your current favorite:

1)   Jennifer Aniston

2)   Courteney Cox

3)   Matt LeBlanc

4)   Matthew Perry

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