Thomas Maier's biography 'Masters of Sex' becomes a Showtime series

The series starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan premieres Sept. 29.

Michael Desmond/Showtime/AP
Michael Sheen (r.) and Lizzy Caplan (l.) star on 'Masters of Sex.'

The book “Masters of Sex” by Thomas Maier is the basis of a new fall Showtime series of the same name.

The show (and the book) centers on William H. Masters, a gynecologist, and Virginia Johnson, his assistant who becomes his partner in research into human sexuality.

“Masters” stars Michael Sheen of “Frost/Nixon” and “The Queen” as Masters, while “True Blood” actress Lizzy Caplan takes on the role of Johnson.

So far, reviews of the series have been mostly positive, with New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley writing that the show is “enjoyable mainly because the actors are so good… [it] gets better as it goes on. But without an extra dimension, or a broader glimpse of a world beyond St. Louis, the series eventually grows a little claustrophobic and thin.”

Washington Post writer Hank Stuever said “Masters” is “easily the only show in the fall crop of series that makes me want to watch more… [when] I had seen the first two episodes and gave it a grade of B+, because it seemed like a sturdy launch…. Now that I’ve seen four more episodes, I could easily nudge that grade up to an A. The characters get better and more complex, the story builds, strange things start to happen and now I can’t wait to see how its interweaving plots unfold…. The lead actors are excellent.”

USA Today critic Robert Blanco was also won over, writing of “the sheer joy of watching an incredibly well-done, ideally cast TV series, anchored by full-bodied performances from Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as Masters and Johnson. This is career-defining work… Caplan is a revelation.”

NPR reviewer John Powers wasn’t impressed with the first episode but felt the show got a little better as it went on.

“The show begins quite badly – the pilot, in particular, is shockingly coarse,” he wrote. “If you can hold out, 'Masters of Sex' begins to find a stride around Episode 3…. [but] 'Masters of Sex' is missing 'Mad Men' 's ruthless clarity and sense of detail.”

“Masters” premieres Sept. 29.

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