Louie is a critically acclaimed TV series on FX that follows the exploits of a fictionalized version of middle-aged, stand-up comic and divorced father of two young girls Louie CK, who comes across as a mix of W.C. Fields, Woody Allen, and Larry David. CK serves as star, writer, director, producer, and editor of each episode. He might even have done some catering. The second season received more critical acclaim than the first, though the reason why is beyond me after watching all 13 episodes, but then I didn’t make it past the third episode of the first season.
Granted, Louie is different from much of what’s on TV with its mix of comedy and drama in stories that run in varying lengths within the time limit of the show. Interestingly enough, it’s the poignant, dramatic moments that stand out the most from the season, while much of the comedy falls flat and tries too hard to shock. Season-opener “Pregnant” finds Louie having to deal with his sister, who awakes in the middle of the night suffering enormous pain. He needs to take her to the hospital but isn’t sure if he should leave his children with a neighbor he doesn’t know. The sister’s resolution doesn’t work, but Louie thanking his neighbors for help is touching. In “Country Drive,” he and his kids visit his great Aunt Ellen who uses the word “nigger.” The children know it’s wrong and an interesting conversation is about to take place, but then CK cheats the viewer by having the woman die, giving little purpose to the previous scene.
The unevenness of the writing occurs throughout the season, which is frustrating because there are good moments, such as when Louie opens up to Pamela in “Subway/Pamela” to reveal how he feels about her even though she makes clear she has no romantic interest in him, or the impressive performance by Doug Stanhope as “Eddie,” an old friend/former comedian who stops in to say goodbye to Louie before killing himself. But then viewers are presented “Come On, God,” which is a bit odd because it makes no sense that a virgin would invite Louie back to her place and get into sexy nightclothes in front of him. The episode does conclude with a funny gag as global atrocities interrupt Louie’s masturbation session. “Halloween/Ellie” is very uneven, delivering a great bit of tension when Louie and the girls get confronted by a couple of freaky costumed fellows, only to then have “Ellie” sputter and go nowhere when a producer shows an interest in Louie’s ideas.
The most notable episode of the season was “Oh, Louie/Tickets.” It drew a lot of attention because it had a scene between Louie and comedian Dane Cook dealing with the real-life accusations that Cook stole three of Louie’s jokes. The reason for the meeting was so Louie could ask Dane to get Lady Gaga tickets through their mutual promoter for Louie’s daughter’s birthday. It seemed like an awful lot of trouble to go through, especially when there’s no reason for Louie to think Dane would do him a favor. Oddly enough, nowhere does Louie deal with the fact that his show takes from the early days of Seinfeld with the inclusion of stand-up performances within the show.
The Special Features on Disc 1 is Louie offering commentary on the first five episodes. He’s obsessed with people knowing he wrote everything, so he repeatedly mentions it, though Joan Rivers got to make up some of her own lines. He’s also very much into the technical aspects like lens, which will likely bore most folks. Disc 2 only has “Fox Movie Channel presents World Premiere – Louie Season 2” where a reporter bugs Louie and a couple of actors for this synergistic promotional piece (5 min). There’s also an idiotic promo for the Blu-ray format that opens the disc.
There too many other TV series I would recommend trying first, but if you’re curious, Louie has enough to make the show worth sampling. Shot on a Red camera, “Louie” is given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and the audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The image looks sharp and colors are solid. The soundtrack is very dialogue heavy and doesn’t make great use of the surrounds. While pleasant to experience in high definition, not much would be lost watching this on standard DVD.
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