Who wants to watch other people dance? America audiences, apparently The ratings for Pucks! continue to fall as the show takes on their new great foe — dance shows. In fact, all of Merc’s new shows are tanking, and the network exec is not above comparing the situation to 9/11-like disasters. But, Merc shouldn’t worry — the Research Department is on the case to fix Pucks! Oh, hell.
Yep, Carol has Research working on finding out what people like and hate about Pucks! and at an episode pitch meeting, she breaks the news to the Lincolns — It’s time to worry about the ratings. Research thinks the show should focus less on Matt LeBlanc and his character and more on the young hockey players he coaches. The Lincolns realize this means majorly refocusing what Pucks! is about, or as Carol and her team think of it “show tweaks”.
They take Research’s advice anyway and write an episode with the boys at the center of the drama. At the table read, it slowly dawns on Matt that he’s being marginalized, and he’s not happy. He thinks the Lincolns are finally getting revenge on him for, y’know, squeezing right in between their marriage, but Bev sets him straight that this is a network decision. This is actually worse news to Matt and he throws a mini tantrum. “I’m not good enough for this piece of shit show?”
Later, Carol and Bev have another night of gabbing and pot smoking. Things eventually turn to their respective relationships. Beverly laments about how things seem almost normal with Sean, but she misses their intimacy. Carol tells Bev that she’s Facebook friends with Sean, and the two quickly descend into the social network for a peek at his profile. Bev finds out Sean has his relationship status set to “it’s complicated”. Bummer.
The next day, Matt and Merc have a lunch date. Let’s not forget that Matt has been sleeping with Merc’s wife Jamie, which makes this scene all the more interesting. Matt pleads his case, reminding Merc that he didn’t need to take this gig, and that Merc was the one who acted as though Matt was essential for its success. Merc sets Matt straight. “Do you want be one of the actors on a show that’s on the air, or the star of something that gets cancelled?”
Matt, drunk, calls Sean from a bar to tell him that he plans to tell Merc he’s leaving the show (and that he’s sleeping with Jamie). Sean and Bev arrive at the bar to talk some sense into him. Bev takes Matt aside begs him not to quit the show. She knows that without him, Pucks! is over, and that means she and Sean will go back to London, and Sean has already told her that their marriage is over when they go home. She’s not begging for the show, she’s asking for Matt to give her a chance to save her marriage.
On set, it looks like Bev’s speech might have done the job, because Matt didn’t quit. In fact, he booked the ice skating rink they were filming at for the entire cast and crew to enjoy privately. His show of goodwill gives the Lincolns a chance to have a cute moment together as Bev struggles to skate, Sean helping her all the way.
And for a little while, Bev gets her wish. With Sean’s arms around her, she basks in the moment. My eyes got a little misty seeing them cutesy again.
Episodes really nailed it. Every single character had a moment where they showed some depth. Merc even had a somewhat intimidating moment in his scenes with Matt, the audience reminded that this guy isn’t just a buffoon that Carol has to constantly take care of — he’s the head of a major network, and will make tough decisions. Carol and Beverly’s friendship continues to be a highlight, and there really needs to be more moments with them. The situation with Matt’s character being downsized brought to the forefront the reality of LeBlanc’s real life, and the struggle of any working television actor — staying relevant doesn’t always guarantee you’re a star. With the Lincolns, it’s getting harder for them to fight the fact that they’re happier together.
All in all, “Episode Four” showed just how hard it can be for people to hang on to the little bit of good they have going for them, and how sometimes it takes unequal compromises to do so.