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<i>Episodes:</i> This Week’s True Hollywood Story

With one episode of its second season left to go, Episodes brought some of its central relationships to a head last night. Bev and Sean seem permanently splitsville, with him encouraging her to go on a second date with the strapping house painter Rob that goes very well indeed. Meanwhile, Carol mourns her boss/lover Merc's impending (and still unbeknownst to him) firing from his comfy network chair... until she learns that she may be getting his job. Oh, and Matt slept with Labia again before trying one more time to kick her to the curb, but we're still pretending that plot isn't happening.

For our purposes, the storyline that carries the most weight is the game of musical chairs happening in the lovely offices of the network that's forced Pucks onto the world. It's been teased for a while now that Merc is no longer in favor with his superiors back in New York and last night the supreme head honcho Elliot Salad dropped into town to confirm to Carol that he is, indeed, out on his ass. (Although not until after his Man of the Year award; both because Elliot wants his outgoing subordinate to have one last good thing happen to him... and also because it'll be a prime time to empty out his office.) So far Carol is the only one aware of the upcoming transition and that's because she's at the top of the list for replacements. In the meantime, rumors are buzzing back in the network's hallways -- fueled on by gossipy news stories on websites like Deadline Hollywood -- and Merc is fighting valiantly (if vainly) for his job, decided that their quickest route to success hinges on creating a supernatural series, which seem to be all audiences want to watch these days. (Of course, CBS's blockbuster line-up of procedurals indicates that not entirely the case.) This leads the episode's funniest scene, where his development team starts shouting out random paranormal critters to base a series around, including mummies, goblins, lizard-men, goblins, mutants, cyborg and pixies. (Not for nothing, but we'd totally watch a series about mutant cyborg lizard pixies.)

But it's all too little too late and eventually Carol is left to try and defend Merc's tenure to Elliot, asking him, "What about all the years we were number one. Don't they count for anything?" To which he replies: "They counted. When we were number one." And that's the honest truth of life in network television for aspiring executives. Just ask former NBC head Warren Littlefield, who just penned a fun tell-all about his experiences turning the network into a ratings dynamo in the '90s, only to be booted once its fortunes started to fall by the decade's end. As Littlefield's rise and fall illustrates, you're only as important to your network as your last Friends. On the other hand, even Littlefield would probably have rejected the idea of a talking dog show. There are just some things even the most desperate network exec should say no to, even if it winds up costing them their jobs.

Truest Hollywood Lines:
"Nikki Finke, Deadline Hollywood, top story." -- Andy, saying the six words that strike fear into the hearts of every Hollywood exec.
"I'd like to know where's our vampire show? Am I the only one who's noticed that everybody's got vampires but us? Not just vampires, AMC's got their fucking zombies! And we've got what?" "Well, we've been trying to stick your mandate to only do dramas ripped from the headlines. Not a lot of zombies in the headlines." -- Merc and Carol, sparring over the network's supernatural-free development slate.
"Look at HBO -- they're up the ass with nuanced portraits. And what are the people watching? Their fucking vampires." -- Merc, clearly forgetting that lots of people are also watching HBO's dragons on Game of Thrones.
"Would JJ have any interest in developing a show about gargoyles?" -- Carol, throwing out a Hail Mary pass to get one of TV's most prolific producers over to her side.
"It happens to all of us eventually. It's like, the circle of life. Like Lion King? You saw Lion King? Genius. Those... puppets." -- Elliot Salad, putting the life cycle of a Hollywood exec in its proper context.

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