TV Review: FX’s ‘Louie’ Continues to Stun with Its Brilliance

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CHICAGO – I’ve seen a lot of TV in the decade-plus I’ve been covering the medium (much less the decades before that when I was purely a fan) and I can very rarely say something like this — you’ve never seen anything like “Louie.” The FX hit returns tonight on the network and reclaims its title as the best comedy on TV. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons of the FX hit, the second of which was just released on Blu-ray and DVD, remedy that immediately (and they are both available streaming on Netflix) and prepare for a third season that’s even more original, unpredictable, bizarre, and totally mesmerizing.

HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 5.0/5.0
Television Rating: 5.0/5.0

“Louie” is a comedy made by a man who doesn’t really care if you laugh. It’s not the funniest show on TV. In fact, there are large chunks of the show that aren’t designed to be funny at all — even more so in the five episodes I’ve seen of season three, which seem to be painted in more melancholic tones, than the first two years. And yet it’s not overly dramatic either. One certainly couldn’t call the second episode of the new season in which Louie gets set up with Oscar winner Melissa Leo dramatic in any way (other than the dramatic phone calls FX might receive after airing the raunchiest thing in basic cable history). The genius of “Louie” is how by not stressing the comedic or the dramatic, he has completely deconstructed his own form, incorporating elements of both genres and creating something new. Louis C.K. has taken the two-party system of television and delivered a true independent.

Louie: Episode 3.1
Louie: Episode 3.1
Photo credit: FX

If you’re familiar with “Louie,” you’ll know how unpredictable the show was last season. Broad comedy like the masturbation episode or a horrible casual sex encounter that turns into a crying mess sit in the same season as much darker material like the one in which Louie deals with a suicidal friend or takes a memorable trip to Afghanistan. The blend of the comically absurd, the remarkably average, and the once-in-a-lifetime stories has returned unblemished. The first five episodes include broad bits about how wonderfully awful Louie’s kids are at telling jokes and the most uncomfortable sexual encounter in years alongside much deeper material like the two-part episode featuring Parker Posey that is very likely the best thing that has aired on TV so far in 2012. The two part episode (3.4 & 3.5) entitled “Daddy’s Girlfriend” is a total work of genius and, in many ways, the peak of “Louie” in the way it blends romance, fatherhood, midlife crisis, comedy, drama, and an award-worthy performance from Posey as the kind of emotionally raw person who can sometimes find as much sadness in the world as she does pixie-esque joy. She’s mesmerizing.

Louie: Season 2 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 19, 2012
Louie: Season 2 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 19, 2012
Photo credit: FX

The writing is still insanely strong but what one notices most of all about the third season of “Louie” is that C.K. has turned into a more confident and adventurous director. In 3.3, “Miami,” he takes his cameras to the South Beach city and displays a very confident visual style (something that can almost never be said about TV comedy) as Louie finds a unique adventure off the beaten path of the common tourist. He’s long gotten credit for his writing and recently for his acting. This season could be the one that advances his reputation as a director as well.

To be fair, the first episode of the new season is the most average of the five I’ve seen but every season of “Louie” has started off on a relatively low note (the second season premiere is basically just an extended fart joke). It’s still good. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s the weakest of the five. But it’s followed by the intense Leo episode and then we’re graced with three weeks that comprise three of my favorite episodes in the history of the show. They’re absolutely brilliant. I don’t often say that about TV. But “Louie” is not your typical TV.

The second season of “Louie” was just released on Blu-ray and DVD and ranked #2 on my list of the best shows of 2011, second only to what I consider one of the best single seasons of any show in history (“Breaking Bad”). In other words, BUY IT.

Synopsis:
Comedian Louis C.K. is back with another season of this critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated hit. Spotlighting C.K.’s signature brand of twisted observational humor, Season Two follows the everyday trials of single dad Louie as he struggles to raise his kids, advance his career, and somehow get some action in the meantime. Facing one bummer after another, Louie takes on inattentive crowds, insane relatives, and a hair-raising U.S.O. tour of Afghanistan. Featuring a stellar array of guest stars including Joan Rivers, and Chris Rock, Louie: Season Two comes fully loaded with unrestrained deleted scenes and commentaries by Louis C.K.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary By Louis C.K. On Select Episodes
o Fox Movie Channel Presents World Premiere Louie: Season 2

“Louie” stars and was written & directed by Louis C.K. It returns on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 9:30pm CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Parker's picture

Loved the review! I have to

Loved the review! I have to agree, this is the funniest thing on TV right now. Louis CK has shown through writing, directing, and editing the show himself, that besides being a genuinely hilarious comedian, he’s also an amazing film-maker in his own right. I’ve been recommending this show to as many people as possible; my followers on Tweeter, everyone I know on Facebook; even the people in my Dish Co-Workers group. Everyone should watch this show. The new episode this week, when Louie attempts to visit his dad; there wasn’t a better half hour of television on all week compared to that! Of course, I missed it when it aired doing an airport run, but luckily I was able to watch it through Dish Online, using my iPad at lunch. From Louie tripping over that DVD player to his Uncle X to Louie speed-boating off into the distance, the show is just one long, slow breath of fresh air. It is TV, perfected.

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