When “Episodes” premieres its final season at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, April 30, it will mark the first time new episodes have aired in over two years. The Season 4 finale of Matt LeBlanc’s scathing Hollywood satire debuted in March 2015, and even though the award-winning Showtime comedy has taken year-plus breaks before, we still don’t have an official release date from Showtime for Season 5.
[Editor’s Note: One day after this article ran, Showtime announced “Episodes” Season 5 will debut August 20 at 10 p.m.]
If the wait has been hard on fans, they should know the creators are pained, as well.
“It’s been torturous, actually,” co-creator Jeffrey Klarik said in an interview with IndieWire. “We finished on June 3 . The show is done and ready to air. As soon as Showtime finds a time for us, we’ll be on.”
“We can’t wait to get back on the air,” fellow co-creator David Crane said. “It’s been a drawn out process because Jeffrey and I write all the episodes. We write them, then we shoot them, then we edit them, so everything is going to take longer. It always has.”
“We’re very excited about people seeing what we did,” Klarik said. “We worked very hard, and we’re counting the minutes until people get to see it.”
And what a season it will be. The seven-episode closing run of “Episodes” picks up shortly after the events of Season 4, with Matt LeBlanc hosting a gameshow created by his nemesis, Merc Lapidus (John Pankow). Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Stephen Mangin and Tamsin Greig) are still working on the series they created, but Sean’s old writing partner, Tim (Bruce Mackinnon), has weaseled his way into showrunning. The threesome has been separated, they’re feeling down, and the combination may put a strain on their unique bond.
“In this last season, it’s especially a test of that friendship between the three of them,” Crane said. “We take them to a breaking point — and they’ve been to a lot of breaking points before, but we thought, ‘All right, we have to top previous seasons in terms of what this relationship can withstand.'”
The final season also took on more personal relevance than before. It’s no secret that Sean and Beverly are kinda, sorta stand-ins for Crane and Klarik: Both are writing partners, life partners, and both work with a version of Matt LeBlanc.
“The irony is that real life kind of mimicked the ideas that we’re presenting in this season,” Klarik said. “As we were finishing up this season, we found out that Matt was going to CBS to do another show, and we hadn’t heard anything about it. We sort of learned about it online. And that’s a storyline you’ll see as subsequent episodes play out: that Sean and Beverly find out that Matt has actually moved on without informing them.”
Beyond the trio’s relationship, Season 5 will also dig into fresh targets within the entertainment industry.
“In previous seasons, we had a lot of fun poking fun at the network executives, but in this season we’ve turned our sights more on things like a writers room and showrunners,” Crane said. “There’s an episode all about non-writing executive producers.”
Considering Hollywood is never not in need of a good takedown or two, one has to wonder why now was the time to end “Episodes.”
“It’s the kind of show where any one of the seasons could have been the last,” Crane said. “But we really wanted to put a bow on the whole show, and that’s what we were able to do this year. Also, it’s one of those things where you want to leave before people want you to leave, so it felt like, ‘let’s go out now while people are still excited about the show.'”
Courtesy of Showtime
“It’s so hard to do,” Klarik said. “After each season, we’d look at each other and say, ‘Can you go through this one more time? I don’t know.’ [laughs] ‘I just don’t think I have it in me anymore.’ But then we’d think about it and get excited and say, ‘OK, let’s see if we can just do it in six. Let’s do six episodes, and then we’ll tie it all up.’ Then we start pitching out ideas, and we get all enthusiastic again, and before we know it, we think, ‘I guess we can do one more.’ And that’s how we ended up with seven [episodes].”
“Once we force ourselves to get back into the grind, we fall in love with the show, and then when we shoot it, we fall in love with the actors all over again,” he said. “So it was sort of like, ‘Gee, I kind of wish we hadn’t said this would be the end. We have so many more ideas!”
With nostalgia already setting in, the creators said they’d consider making more “Episodes” at a later date — if they can.
“Nobody’s going to ask us,” Klarik said. “That I can guarantee. But sure — I mean, down the road. We loved working with these people. That was the thing that made it such a pleasure.”
With Klarik, Crane, and LeBlanc all in attendance for the Tribeca premiere this weekend, the people alone should make for a fun screening, and the writing duo is excited to premiere at Robert De Niro’s festival.
“I’m just hoping it gets us a better table at Nobu,” Klarik said, referring to the Manhattan restaurant co-founded by De Niro. “Otherwise, why are we doing this?”
“Episodes” will screen the first two episodes of Season 5 at the SVA Theater in Manhattan on Sunday, April 30, at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.