Having been only a moderate Louis CK fan prior to catching Season One of FX's stellar "Louie," I found the initial 13 episodes to be absolutely fantastic. Without a doubt, this is his breakthrough moment and performance. "Louie" expertly blends the mundane with the profane. It can be awkward, hilarious and surprisingly real. I thought Season One had some of television's biggest single laughs of the year as it juxtaposed comedy club footage with Louie just trying to be a good person, a good father, and a good comedian in everyday situations. Oftentimes pushing past the edge of good taste, Louis CK leads you right into the crudest scenarios possible but never loses you. This is a guy you can identify with and share in his frustrations and challenges. I feel like Louis CK really lets the viewer into his world and invites us to partake in the unified silliness of humanity. Nominated for two 2011 Emmy Awards (one for writing, one as Best Actor in a Comedy), this show was also included on the American Film Institute's Best Program of the Year roster.
So I was really looking forward to this second season. I'm going to be honest. In its totality, I don't think the show was quite as funny as last year. But in many ways, the show deepened and became far more unexpected and interesting. While still the champion of the awkward exchange, many episodes didn't play for laughs at all. I'm not sure how others would compare this second season, but I found myself really respecting the chances that Louie CK took in his increasingly personal stories. Some of the memorable moments include life lessons from Joan Rivers as well as Louie's continued painful pursuit of a relationship with Pamela Adlon. But many of the episodes (including the season's loudest and most obnoxious entry about Louie's pregnant sister) defy categorization. The show is unafraid of dealing with parenthood in a way few TV programs even attempt. There is a quiet poignancy and truthfulness behind everything that happens. What do you say when your daughter tells you she likes her mother better? Well that's the question that opens the season.
The 13 episodes on this 2 disc set are: (1) Pregnant, (2) Bummer/Blueberries, (3) Moving, (4) Joan, (5) Country Drive, (6) Subway/Pamela, (7) Oh Louie/Tickets, (8) Come On, God, (9) Eddie, (10) Halloween/Ellie, (11) Duckling, (12) Niece, (13) New Jersey/Airport.
Some episodes have two vignettes, some are self contained stories. More than anything, this season shows a confident and creative show runner willing to push the boundaries of conventional sitcom fare. Without a doubt, my favorite of the year (one I'm convinced will be Emmy nominated) is the expanded episode "Duckling" which has Louie participating in a USO tour of Afghanistan. It's a great set-up with lots of laughs that turns into one of the most heartfelt and memorable moments that I saw on TV this year. Seriously.
If you didn't love Season One of "Louie," than this simply isn't a show for you. Nothing here will change your mind. As I stated, I didn't think this season had as many laugh-out-loud moments but it more than compensated by an increased depth and honesty. It's strange to talk about a sitcom like that, but this is as close to real life as you're likely to see in a sitcom. KGHarris, 5/12.
Louis C.K. is one of the best comedians alive, which undermines the breadth of his talent. A lot of the great stand-up comics are no longer with us, but Louis C.K. is not just one of the best alive; he's one of the best period. In 2010, FX gave Louis his own TV show and complete creative control over it. The show, a fictionalized version of his day-to-day life, was titled Louie and it's now one of television's most acclaimed shows. As a huge fan of his stand-up, I was a bit disappointed with the first season. I found it lacking something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I enjoyed the format immediately; the story interwoven with stand-up material. However, those first 13 episodes left something to be desired. Season 2 is an entirely different beast and ultimately a much better show; darker, more emotional, funnier, and each episode seems more thoroughly thought-out. Louis C.K. has found a consistency and rhythm as an actor, director, writer, producer, and editor and he seems more confident with the tone and direction of his show. This season is also much more story-focused, even with one episode centering almost entirely on masturbation.
Watching the first season, I immediately noticed that Louie shares similarities with early Woody Allen films. It's a lazy comparison in many ways; both are comedians based in New York. Their humor is quite different, but there's a strong similarity in tone. The music, the New York setting, the dealings with human nature, etc. Allen's humor and dialogue is different from Louis', but the most substantial difference is simply that Allen's comedy is more refined and sophisticated. Watching this season I couldn't escape what a great idea it would be for Allen and C.K. to work together. Imagine my excitement at the recent announcement that he had joined the cast of Allen's upcoming film.
Moving right along, Louie starts strong in the first scene of the first episode. Like the first season, the show is not preoccupied with a linear narrative thread. It has a loose structure that disregards continuity in favor of self-contained vignettes that stand on their own merit and can be admired individually. With each new episode you can see Louis' growth as a director and his evolving depth as a storyteller. There are poignant meditations on life and death, as well as some quietly hilarious and subtle moments such as an inspired scene with Louie in a subway watching a man beautifully play his violin as a homeless man disrobes behind him and begins showering himself with a water bottle. Several episodes portray Louie's fruitless pursuit of Pamela (played by actress Pamela Adlon) and the two share some nice chemistry. In one scene, Louie professes his love for her in an extended monologue that ranks as one of the most poignant moments of the entire series. His dealings with Pam are generally the most emotionally resonant passages of the show. There's an extended episode entitled Duckling that follows Louie on a USO tour and it may be the most accomplished episode in his repertoire.
Two episodes that really stand out amongst the others are Oh Louie/Tickets and Eddie. The former begins with a rant against the poor quality of modern television, culminating in a face-off with Dane Cook (who plays himself). Many are familiar with the accusations that Cook lifted some of Louis' early material and the episode has the two engaging in a civil, well-written argument about this. The latter episode guest stars comedian Doug Stanhope and its cool seeing two of my favorite comics share the screen together. While Dane Cook essentially plays himself in his episode, Stanhope plays a broken-down comic named Eddie. Obviously, Stanhope and Eddie share similarities in their lifestyle and outlook but Stanhope brings an unexpected amount of pathos and depth to his role that is genuinely Emmy-worthy. Stanhope and C.K. have a strong dynamic together and it seems like there is a genuine friendship there. The entire episode is a triumph.
There are many other celebrity guest appearances. One episode features a humble and self-aware Joan Rivers, with a majority of the episode consisting of dialogue between Rivers and C.K. We actually see Louis discovering his strengths as a writer, as this extended dialogue between the two is mesmerizing. Other guest appearances include Steven Wright, Chris Rock, and F. Murray (all appearing in the finale).
Not every episode is perfect. While the first episode has a wonderful opening and is well-written and uplifting even, there's a long build-up to a joke that ends with flatulence. This joke is both lazy and unfunny, betraying the quality of what came before it. In the episode Country Drive, Louie takes his children to see their elderly Aunt Ellen. Much of the episode is filler (specifically in the driving scenes), but it contains a strong message and a particularly strong stand-up bit about the differences between Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
This brings me to the stand-up material. The stand-up bits rarely disappoint and there is some very strong material here. I respect Louis for not using sub-par material in favor of making sure all of his strong material makes it into a stand-up special. There are some gems here, one of my favorite bits being his description of a sexual encounter in the show's second episode. As a comedian, Louis C.K. has this brilliant ability to get right to the heart of a topic with such simplicity. This especially works in his favor in the television format. He recently released much of the material here as an audio special entitled WORD: Live at Carnegie Hall through his website, but even my familiarity with it didn't make it lose its edge.
It's particularly impressive to note what a talented actor Louis C.K. is. As Louie he has established a likable, everyman persona that is a bit more sensitive and less confident than his stand-up persona. He plays a range of emotions in each episode, but the finale really puts his emotional range as an actor on full display. While it's hard to escape this scene's similarity to the conclusion of Woody Allen's Manhattan, it's a hilariously bittersweet ending that shows C.K. using some smart, subtle acting choices to convey his utter devastation.
As a 20-year-old, I find it almost depressing how much I relate to C.K.'s material. That's what makes his stand-up and his show so wonderful. It connects with you on a level that only the best stand-up comedians are able to achieve; the material makes you laugh, it makes you think, and it makes you relate. Louis C.K. is a real auteur, handling all creative aspects of this show and making each episode on a shoestring budget. I think the lack of a cohesive narrative thread actually succeeds in making the show more interesting. With ease, it allows him to toy with emotions of the viewer and cover a broader range of subjects. I applaud Louis C.K. for this wonderful second season of his television opus, as well as FX for giving Louis the creative control that has made Louie one of the most unique, dynamic, and economical shows on television.
on January 8, 2012
I'm mainly writing a review here because no one else has. After I watched this episode a day after it aired (a few months ago), I went online to see if anyone else thought it was as good as I did and there were already hundreds of reviews on a bunch of different tv message boards discussing how good it was. If you see one episode of this show, it should probably be this one, and if you've seen a few and liked any of them, this will be one of your favorites.
Louie picks his kids up from school a day before leaving for Afghanistan on a USO tour, and is forced to bring home and take care of the class's pet ducklings for the night. Upon getting to Afghanistan, he realizes one of his daughters put one of the ducklings in his backpack "to keep him safe." Already out of his element being in a war zone, he now has to take care of this little baby duckling. Accompanying him are some barely-18 NFL cheerleaders, and a country music star who opens for him by singing heartfelt songs about what it means to be an American soldier. The group of performers has to travel by helicopter from base to base doing various shows and entertaining whatever troops are there.
It's not snide or awkward; it's extremely heartfelt. While it's a merging of Louie with American Service (which isn't an easy mix), it's also somehow Louie at his best. The tone comes across just right, and the episode goes above and beyond what you would expect.
on December 10, 2011
I am not exaggerating. And I'll begin with a disclaimer -- I thought the tag took a lot away from the other-wise flawless expression of love for both New York city and a woman. The tag aside ... this was perfect. The shots of NY, and of Louis CK fascinated by it, will bring sweet pangs to anyone who once lived there. And the love-story is cruel and funny and real. The acting is superb -- Pamela Adlon is in normal flawless-form, though this venue allowed her to showcase the depth of her talent.
This was perfect. Perhaps "Chuckles Bites the Dust" perfect.
on July 2, 2012
This is not your typical, American sitcom comedy. The show follows the line of the first season, opening with a short stand up interlude, followed by a 'sitcom.' Some shows are chock full of hilarity, and others are not. This has got to be one of the artsiest shows I've seen in a long time.
One of the things that I love about this show is that it mimics real life. It follows Louie, who is a stand up comedian. He is also a father, a divorced man, and a regular guy. His kids are pukes, or funny, or well behaved, etc. Not like other shows with kids who just spit out a 'cute' one liner, followed by a laugh track. A lot of the scenarios mimic real life b/c they are so mundane and not over the top (think of Rachel being able to afford that unbelievable apartment in Friends on a coffee house waitress's salary). Yes, there are things that the average person cannot relate to, but we are not a famous stand up comedian.
on June 19, 2014
Louie is a genius. He's the best comic out today. Whether or not this show is about his actual life doesn't matter, it feels real - except it's funnier, darker, more cringe worthy, and poignant than real life. Louie has no qualms about showing everything about an adult living in New York, warts and all. It's not a show for kids, but if you like intelligent thought provoking viewing, this show is for you.
The most amazing this about this show is it's actually Louie's show. The Fx network gives him a flat amount of money and he takes it from there. He gets no notes from the network, there are no "suits" telling him what to do. He does it all himself from writing to directing to acting to editing. It's all his show. And what's even more amazing he gets top notch talent to do the show with him, he gets the best comics and actors to guest star, the regular cast is fantastic (his two daughters are adorable) and then throw in a few car crashes, helicopters, travel to foreign countries and you have a really great show. I'm not sure how he does it.
If you like comedy where they keep it real, where they talk about their foibles, their fears, their faults but make it hilarious, then you won't be disappointed with Louie.
on June 16, 2015
Louie is an interesting show. It's a comedy but with some depressing moments. There is a lot of cursing and his humor can be quite dark. The situations are funny and I guess many are based on his real life. He comes across as a pathetic character and you keep hoping things will improve so you continue to watch. It's like watching an accident you just can't help yourself. It's certainly no Seinfeld if that's what you are looking for.
on February 4, 2013
I could not wait for German television to finally broadcast Louie. I don't even know if they ever will.
Instead of depending on the good will of German television bosses deciding to buy the show for their program - I bought it myself on DVD and no regrets!
I love the show! In my opinion Louie C.K. is one of the most talented guys you have on American TV!
Can’t wait for the next seasons to be released on DVD!
on February 13, 2014
I've always been a fan of stand-up comedy. When done right it can soar beyond the confines of comedy and become an observation and biting critique on society. Louis C.K.'s stand up does just that. It is not only hilarious but rubs salt into many of society's wounds in a refreshing and brutally frank fashion as it also unconftroubly exposes the fears and hidden desires of many everyday man - from single to married with kids to divorced and back around. Based on the strength of Louis C.K's brilliant stand-up, I expected a great deal from his comedy show. What I got was nothing at all what I expected and the show is all the better for it. I feared that it would perhaps be in the vein of "Curb Your Enthusiasm - which is a brilliant show - but who wants to see the same show again starring a different character?
Well, Louie is nothing like any other show I have ever seen, it's a beast of it's own. And beast is a good way to define it. It's brutally honest, uncompromising, crass and very funny, but it is also tender, realistic and poignant. The show's first season was really great, but Season Two elevates the show to an all new level. It becomes more focused, more tightly wound and it's themes are darker than ever. And despite all that, it is still unspeakably funny and bravely experimental, It«'s ability to navigate through the ridiculous and the sublime is awing.
Then why four stars instead of five? Because despite its bravery, the show sometimes steers from problematic that were gracefully presented trough the course of one full episode but that get dropped without any explanation or continuity. For example, there is an episode where he buys a house way out of his price range so that his kids have space to play and be generally happier. But that is never brought up again throughout the rest of the series and it was an issue ripe for exploration and further development. In another episode, one of his sisters dump his niece on him and he has to take care of her. Towards the end of the episode he is given a piece of information that suggests that he will have to take care of her for a much longer period of time but on the next episode she's gone.
These continuity issues where also found in Season One. For example, the actress that plays a woman on a date with Louie during whom he is humiliated and bullied by a young man is the same actress who plays is mother in another episode of the same season. I know that Louie does it on purpose, as he stated at one point that he did not care for continuity, that he was more concerned with whatever message or laugh a specific episode aimed for, but it does feel like a cop-out sometimes.
Continuity issues and occasional cop-outs aside, the show is still an amazing piece of work.
on July 14, 2012
It's been a long time since I binged on anything on TV . . . unless it's animated, I hardly know what the heck is on anymore, getting only this and that while somewhere else since I refuse to bend over for the whole cable/satellite/narrowcast thing. Two minutes of crap programming, eight minutes of crap commercials, and $75 a month, repeat -- no thanks. But "Louie" . . . even when it falters, it's too good for television. That includes the second season, which in terms of comedy is more uneven than the terrific first season but darker and more dramatic. In fact, many episodes of the second season of "Louie" are composed more like a good literary short story (as were some in the first season), taking the viewer down roads they think they've traveled before but ending up in far different places. For instance, Louie's ongoing attempts to woo his PTA friend, Pamela, who tells him repeatedly and often without mercy how unattracted to him she is, nonetheless serve as the focal point for several episodes, culminating in an airport goodbye scene that threatens to break your heart, if you have one, before finding an alternative. (The irony of Pamela's caustic but well-intended lecture to Louie about being so screwed up as to hopelessly focus affection on her when she won't return the same sentiment while she jets off to Paris to reconcile her marriage to the man who deserted her and her children is not lost on the audience.) In another episode, Louie's too-big-for-her-britches 13-year-old niece condescendingly lectures Louie on how it is condescending to give money to the homeless, and the opportunity for a smart-alecky retort is traded for just letting the ironic scene take its course; Steven Wright's advice to Louie to live a little after a great set ends in a disaster far worse than could be imagined. "Louie" even manages to get a duckling into several episodes without disintegrating into a morass of cheesy sentimentality. That is all quite a feat. "Louie" traffics in ongoing themes, especially the titular character's struggles with relationships (and as a breath of fresh air for TV, not just romantic but as a divorced parent who's male), but also takes swipes at race, pregnancy, sexual orientation, the generation gap, and religious hypocrisy. In a three-camera show with a studio audience, the jokes would be predictable and safe, but Louie, despite its sometimes wacky situations, doesn't settle for anything that rings hollow, offering the audience insight in addition to sometimes hard-won laughs, all to suitable jazz riffs. While tinny stuff like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" get all the acclaim, "Louie" is at least as good as drama and a lot more interesting. The bonus is that it's also funny for all the right reasons.