Two Sunday offerings prove that sometimes the best “new” characters are variations on the old.
Now in its second season, “Episodes” (9:30 p.m. Sunday, Showtime) stars Matt LeBlanc as a fictionalized version of himself, a character not terribly removed from his old “Friends” incarnation, Joey Tribbiani.
For the uninitiated, “Episodes” stars Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig as Sean and Beverly Lincoln, married British television writers who try to turn their successful BBC comedy “Lyman’s Boys” into an American sitcom. Hollywood transforms the tale of a genteel prep school teacher into a comedy called “Pucks!” about a brash hockey coach (LeBlanc).
In season one, the desecration of the Lincolns’ show took a backseat to the destruction of their marriage. Consumed with jealousy, Beverly has a regrettable fling with Matt that forces her and Sean into the awkward position of living separately while still writing together.
As we enter season two, Matt is contrite about hurting Sean and breaking up his budding “bromance” with the comedy writer.
“Episodes” is a really fun show and a throwback to the days when half-hour sitcoms were breezy, light and frankly adult without being capsized by sleaze.
• How do you return to a show’s beloved character? Particularly when its devoted audience knows that the character and the man who portrayed him are dead?
Well, that’s what prequels are for!
Shaun Evans plays a young Detective Morse in “Endeavour” on “Masterpiece Mystery!” (8 p.m. Sunday, PBS, check local listings). The original British series, “Inspector Morse,” aired from 1987 to 2000, when the title character, originally played by John Thaw, was killed. Thaw died in 2002.
Set in the mid-1960s, “Endeavour” introduces Morse shortly after dropping out of Oxford and taking up police work.
Sunday’s other highlights
• Scheduled U.S. Olympic Trials (NBC) include Swimming (7 p.m.) and Gymnastics (8 p.m. and 9p.m.).
• Windy City charity on “Secret Millionaire” (7p.m., ABC).
• A new show takes shape on “The Newsroom” (9 p.m., HBO).
• “Weeds” (9 p.m., Showtime) enters its final season.