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The Telefile
<i>Episodes</i>: This Week’s Truest Hollywood Story

After last week's episode, which dealt more with personal business, last night's Episodes got back to the business of show. That's probably why it was one of the stronger outing so far this season as the various relationship dramas were pushed to the backburner and all of the characters were focused on one thing: fixing Pucks.

Of course, because this is Hollywood, nobody can seem to go about the process of fixing a failing show in a simple way, like writing smarter jokes or funnier characters. Instead, the network's creative suggestions are being driven by the word every ink-stained TV scribe loathes to hear: "research." And research indicates that what's popping on Pucks isn't Matt LeBlanc, but rather the young hockey players under his tutelage, particularly the one with the really nice hair. Sean and Bev learned about the show's... um, evolving direction when they go into pitch an upcoming storyline to Carol and her underlings. In a very funny (and all-too realistic) scene, that plot morphs from being about Matt and Morning's characters going on a problem-ridden road trip to the boys stealing Lyman's truck for their own joyride. "Now we can focus on what's actually working," Carol says too-enthusiastically, while the writers just stare at her like she's an alien from another planet.

Naturally, neither of the show's adult stars are pleased about this development, particularly Matt, who had no interest in returning to TV to be the utility backup player in an ensemble of athletic, but acting-challenged teenagers. And while the episodes ends with him agreeing to stick around for Bev's sake as she tries to win Sean back, his bruised ego will almost certainly be an ongoing element the duo will have to contend with. It's probably cold comfort to Matt, but retrofitting a series doesn't always have to end badly for everyone involved. Family Ties famously started off focusing on Mr. and Mrs. Keaton before Alex P. moved center stage, setting up a dramatically and comically potent generational divide that fueled the show for its seven-season run. The Cosby Show spin-off A Different World also improved once it lost its central Huxtable and just became a portrait of life on an African-American college campus. On the other hand, "research" has also been responsible for killing a number of promising shows (not that Pucks really counts as promising based on what we've seen) and leaving viewers wondering what might have been. Of course, research or no, we suspect that Matt LeBlanc won't stay in the penalty box for long either on the show or the show-within-the-show. Unless they bring in David Schwimmer as a way of retooling Pucks. Then all bets are off...

Truest Hollywood Lines:
"Every fucking dance show is killing us! Who wants to watch other people dance?" -- Merc, baffled by the peculiar phenomenon of dance show.
"Ooo, that's nice and stakes-y." -- Andy, complimenting fellow studio suit Carol on the way she "improved" Bev and Sean's episode idea by raising the stakes... the buzziest word in any pitch meeting.
"It always comes down to the fucking hair." -- Matt, summing up what it takes to be a star.
"Research said Joey was gonna be a hit." -- Matt, referring to the inconsistencies of TV research.
"So here's the question: Do you want to be one of the actors on a show that's on the air? Or the star of something that gets cancelled?" -- Merc, dropping the B.S. and laying out Matt's options in blindingly clear terms.

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