Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Louie, Louie

After a two-year hiatus, Louis C.K.'s series Louie is back.  On Monday we got a double-shot of the show.  In fact, his fourth season will feature two now shows every Monday--which means it'll last seven weeks.

The first two episodes are called "Back" and "Model." (Looking ahead, I see he's going to have six episodes called "Elevator," from Part 1 to 6.)  Not too descriptive, but then, it's hard to describe an episode of Louie.  I don't think you could call the show a sitcom. It is always centered on Louie, and does have some recurring characters, such as his two daughters, but there's no regular situation. In fact, I'm not sure it's always comedy.  Each episode is more like an experimental short.

"Back" starts with Louie doing stand-up (we see how his act relates to his life somewhat--the original concept of Seinfeld) but the rest of the half hour is stuff that happens to him over a couple days.  He's awoken by loud garbage men, who even come into his bedroom and make noise (reminds me of an old New Yorker cartoon); meets the building super who can't tell a joke; hangs out with his comedian friend Todd Barry; picks up his kids from their school, brings them to his place, eventually putting them to bed; plays poker with comedian friends who riff on masturbation; goes to buy a vibrator but hurts is back; and sees a doctor (played by Charles Grodin) who can't help him.

The second episode is tighter, darker and even more surrealistic, sort of a fantasy/nightmare.  Louie's at the club (and striking out). Jerry Seinfeld (playing himself) asks Louie to open for him at a benefit the next day in the Hamptons. Louie shows up, underdressed, and after a disastrous few minutes introduces the disgusted Seinfeld.  Leaving the show, the one woman in the audience who laughed--because Louie was so out of place--picks him up.  She's rich and a model, and she takes Louie to her expensive house, where they have sex.  She tickles him, he hates it, hits her and knocks her out. She goes to the hospital and, as his lawyer (played by Victor Garber) informs him, the rich, powerful family will keep things quiet, but he'll have to pay them $5000 a month for the rest of his life.

So that's how new viewers who have heard so much about this show will be introduced.  Just what is going on here?  This show has its of fans, but I can't imagine this sort of stuff will become widely popular like, say, Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory--or Seinfeld. It's simply a different rhythm, with different rewards, and a lot of people won't want to follow.

Not that Louis C. K. himself is suffering. In fact, he's about as big as a comedian can get, with a show where he can do whatever he wants (within the budget), huge crowds for his live performances and near universal critical acclaim.  Louie, on the other hand, is sort of an alternative version of his world. The Louie in Louie is making a lving in comedy, but he's not that big, and is generally a sad sack--a loser who moves from one weird and generally unpleasant experience to the next.

By the way, the opening has changed. He used to begin with "Brother Louie," while we watched him walking up from the subway, getting some pizza and going into his club. Now with start with "Louie" in white on black, and some jazz music, then go straight into the show.  Was he tired of the old opening?  Didn't want to pay residuals? Or is just signifying he's going through a different phase?

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