TV Review: The Comedians (2015) – “Pilot” / Louie – “Potluck”

FX’s 10 o’clock block on Thursdays nights could be labelled Must-Squirm TV due to the shared humor of the two sitcoms, which are rooted in awkward interactions between clueless characters.

Based on the Swedish series Ulveson & Herngern, Billy Crystal and Josh Gad star as caricatures of themselves (hopefully) in a mockumentary about the creation of a fictional sketch show. Billy is a struggling comedian past his prime and is paired with brash up-and-comer Josh for a 13-week run. They can’t stand each other but both need the money so they do their best, which really comes across as doing as little possible, to get along. For example after firing director Larry Charles, who serves as an executive producer on Comedians, a power struggle ensues over a replacement as neither trusts the other’s judgement.

The show is a blend of The Larry Sanders Show and The Office. While it’s good to see Crystal and Gad poke fun at themselves, the mocking of show business and the silliness/meanness combo of the show’s humor feels a tad too familiar.

The Comedians has potential but must breakout from the shadow of the other shows it resembles. Stephnie Weir as anxiety-ridden producer Kristen Laybourne is a great start because her character is both the funniest and the most interesting so far.

For fans of Louie, the Season Five premiere should satisfy, though I am still hard pressed to understand the high praise the show gets. After realizing he’s depressed, Louie tries to change things up in his life and decides to attend a potluck thrown by the parents of his daughter Jane’s classmates. Of course being Louie, he ignores Marina’s (Judy Gold) request for dessert and tells her he is bringing fried chicken, which he prepares in a needlessly thorough montage.

After an amusing interlude, he finally gets to the potluck where he meets Julianne (Celia Keenan-Bolger), the surrogate carrying a baby for Marina and her partner Renassa (Sidné Anderson). They share a cab downtown together and she has an emotional breakdown over how tough the pregnancy is to experience on her own. He comforts her and they comfort each other, which leads to unforeseen consequences. The plot climaxes, though Louie didn’t, in a shockingly ridiculous manner that is typical for Louie.

While I don’t feel a strong compulsion to see what happens next on either show, I may tune in out of mild curiosity, particularly to The Comedians with planned appearances by Mel Brooks and Rob Reiner. The episodes were both just okay, and with all the shows starting this month, I need more laughs if I am going to invest my time in a comedy series.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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