It's been almost a year and a half since we last saw the cast of Showtime's “Episodes,” (10:30 p.m. Sundays) and the laughs pick up right where they left off. Well, so does the plot, the next day as a matter of fact.
It is the night after the Man of the Year charity event honoring network executive Merc Lapidus (John Pankow), which turned into a brawl after his assistant and mistress Carol (a wonderful Kathleen Rose Perkins) gets comedy writer Beverly Lincoln (Tamsin Greig) to reveal that Merc's wife, Jamie (Genevieve O'Reilly) has been having an affair with the star of the sitcom “Pucks.” That would be Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc — a fictionalized decadent version of himself.
After the fight, which goes viral, Merc is dumped by the network and then by Carol. Matt's arm is dislocated, and the estranged Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly, the married British writing couple behind “Pucks,” decide to reconcile.
But the fallout from the evening is only the beginning, and so is the fun. Created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, “Episodes” has always slyly skewered network TV. If the show had aired last year, it would have easily been in my best-of list. There are few network comedies, which are mostly lame like the fictional “Pucks,” that could even come close, but Showtime has three of them on in one night.
“Shameless” (9 p.m. Sunday) with William H. Macy and Emily Rossum, and “House of Lies” (10 p.m.), which also return Sunday, are top-notch. Technically a family dramedy about the down, but not always out, Gallaghers, “Shameless” delivers a lot of humor amid some heartfelt material. “House of Lies,” about a cynical team of management consultants, is a delicious satire of greed in America
Meanwhile on HBO, season 3 of “Girls” premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. The comedy has divided viewers and critics. I'm among those who find the series weirdly self-loathing of women (yes, we could argue this all day), and I don't see anything in the opening episode of season 3 that changes my mind. Following it at 10:30 p.m. is “Looking,” which is about a group of gay friends living in San Francisco.