The Telefile
<i>Episodes</i>: This Week’s Truest Hollywood Story

What's one sure-fire way to lure some eyeballs back to your ratings-challenged series? Stunt casting! That's the tack the increasingly desperate Pucks crew takes in Episodes' sixth episode as Matt is tasked with a seemingly easy assignment -- enlist one of his former Friends to appear on his new show. Too bad he's apparently pissed all of them off in the past eight years since the series wrapped...

Since Matt LeBlanc doesn't possess the drawing power of Larry David (on or off screen), none of the core Friends cast actually appeared in the flesh on last night's episode, which probably disappointed those expecting a Curb Your Enthusiasm/Seinfeld-style reunion. Instead, Matt spent the episode cajoling them over the phone, only to be consistently and thoroughly rebuffed due to his past actions, which range from an anti-Semitic joke directed at David Schwimmer to whipping out his little LeBlanc and dribbling (or not) over Jennifer Aniston's Emmy. But in the end, he does manage to get one ex-Friend on Pucks: James Michael Tyler, who played Central Perks' manager, Gunther. (Maybe he would have had more luck with some of his former Joey co-stars. It's not like Andrea Anders and Miguel A. Núñez Jr. are up to much these days.)

Obviously, the enmity between Friends is a bit of an exaggeration. The cast was a famously tight-knit unit during the show's run (particularly around contract negotiation time) and supposedly parted on good terms. But it is also true that they don't make a regular habit of appearing on each other's follow-up projects. None of Joey's New York pals made a guest appearance on his spin-off series (although Scwhimmer did direct a couple of episodes and both of Matthew Perry's follow-ups, Studio 60 and Mr. Sunshine, were Friends-free zones. (We'll see what happens with his latest vehicle, Go On. By mid-season, if it lasts that long, he may be begging for LeBlanc to swing by for some stunt-casting action.) That's a far cry from the Cheers gang, many of whom made pit stops in Seattle to visit their favorite pompous psychiatrist.

If the guys have done the loner thing, their galpals have made a bit more an effort to reunite. Aniston has guest-starred on both Courteney Cox shows that nobody watches (FX's long-cancelled Dirt and TBS-by-way-of-ABC's Cougar Town) and Cox has appeared on Lisa Kudrow's Internet-to-Showtime comedy Web Therapy. (You know, since they are channelmates, one would think that Kudrow might have been able to find room in her schedule to pop up on Episodes... maybe LeBlanc really did insult her in some unforgivable way in the past.) Basically what we're saying is that while last night's episode was mostly fun -- the increasingly creepy stalker storyline aside -- an actual appearance by a Friend might have put it over the top. 'Cause as much as we like Gunther, he wasn't always there for us like Chandler, Monica and the rest of the crew. Hell, even an Ugly Naked Guy sighting would have been funnier. This is pay cable, after all...

Truest Hollywood Lines:
"Why does she do it? She's so beautiful." "Sure... now." -- Bev asking Morning's "kid" brother Rob (played by guest star James Purefoy) why his sis is so dependent on the surgeon's knife.
"I was in Lost in Space. We weren't actually lost in space." -- Matt, expressing his complacency with Hollywood's digital wizardry to Sean.
"I will guarantee you six on the air. Right here, on this trail." -- Carol trying to convince Bev in mid-hike to make a show out of her potential love quadrangle with Sean, Morning and Rob, thus proving that in Hollywood, there's no separation between work and exercise.
"I think it could be fun. C'mon, a show about three little ghosts?" "It's a show about dead children!" "Well, I wouldn't put that in the promos." -- Carol and Andy, debating the merits of a new series pitch. (We say take it... dead children worked for American Horror Story.)

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