By Jason Clark
January 11, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST
Des Willie/Showtime
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Picking up literally the next morning after the events of the previous season ender, Showtime’s laffer Episodes finds our writing duo heroes Beverly and Sean Lincoln (Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan) back in foggy London bliss when a call from L.A. decides their fate once again…

…and thank God for that, as the show’s fourth season is off with a comic shot as Bev and Sean grumble their way back to La-La Land, when they receive the word that their dismal sitcom Pucks! (described by one cast member as “risen like Jesus, if Jesus was a sh–ty sitcom no one watched”) has been picked up for six additional episodes. Their increasingly boozy and out-of-control star Matt LeBlanc (still sending himself up beautifully) is P.O.’d over the news, too, as it keeps him from a desired NBC drama pilot that could have changed his waning TV career.Bev and Sean have another script that, as fans will recall, sparked a network bidding war and attracted Oscar winner Susan Sarandon, but their Pucks! follies sent them running back to Blighty. It turns out their agent hasn’t given up on the script making through the rounds, and after LeBlanc’s dastardly (and now deceased) accountant loses him—as he puts it—”32 million f—ing dollars,” Matt tries to convince the poorly-paid-in-comparison duo to sell into the biz (or is “out to”?).

Thankfully, creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik have sent the season 3 TV honcho/lunatic Castor Sotto packing (no offense to Chris Diamantopoulos, who played the role with zeal, but that character was going nowhere fast), and keep us close to our favorite supporting players. Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins), tireless as ever, is lobbying for Castor’s job but shut down in favor of the fear-inducing Helen Basch (soon to be revealed as The Hotwives of Orlando star Andrea Savage), whose home Carol broke up when she shagged her husband. Morning (Mircea Monroe), the upbeat starlet whose glory and patience is tarnished when she too has to rejoin the crap sitcom and reject a better offer, scores the episode’s best line, in regard to Matt’s inebriation: “Have you smelled his Big Gulp? It’s like 30 ounces of rehab.” And Carol’s messed-up ex/wormy exec Merc Lapidus (John Pankow), who put this whole slam-bang enterprise together, also finds himself in a financial bind, after LeBlanc’s money man makes off with his money, too. (But not as much, we’re dutifully informed.)

Episodes is back in fighting form, even including its great, satiric asides; this season opener contains a howler of an R&D meeting touting Wright & Wong, a horrible-looking sitcom starring a white and Asian guy that, truthfully, doesn’t sound too far off from the network swill that gets the greenlight these days. And the three leads (LeBlanc, Greig, and Mangan) are sharp as ever—this season promises to keep them in the same room more often this year than the (more-contrived) previous one, and that’s what will keep this vibrant comedy’s audience opinion from ever rhyming with the word Pucks!

Episodes airs Sunday nights 10:30 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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