Fox // 2011 // 314 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // July 15th, 2012
Louie: "Since there's been people, all of them, every single person ever
has masturbated. Napolean masturbated, Ghandi, Joan Jett,
News Host (nodding): "Shakespeare, definitely."
The saddest comedy on television just got sadder. Louie returns for a second season where Louis CK (The Invention of Lying) pushes the boundaries of the sitcom even further than he did in his first. This season might not have quite as many barrel laughs as the previous, but the plots are more developed and the series, in every way, is a big improvement.
Thirteen episodes make up Louie: The Complete Second Season.
"Pregnant" -- Louie's pregnant sister drops by for a visit, but needs to be taken to the hospital with severe pain. Through all the screaming, his neighbors come to help and Louie bonds with them.
"Bummer/Blueberries" -- Louie witnesses a tragedy while going on a non-date, leading to some dour talk about death. Later, he meets somebody from his daughter's school who invites him over for some emotionless sex, but that turns out to be weirder than he can handle.
"Moving" -- Louie tries to find a new apartment for himself and his daughters to live and starts to realize that he's in love with Pamela (Pamela Adlon, Lucky Louie).
"Joan" -- After bombing in Atlantic City, Louie meets Joan Rivers and gets a little advice, plus a little more than he expected.
"Country Drive" -- Louie takes his daughters out of town to see his elderly great-aunt (Eunice Anderson, A League of Their Own), who turns out to be an old racist, which mystifies the girls.
"Subway/Pamela" -- After a really weird set of experiences in the subway, he meets up with Pamela for lunch and feels compelled to pour his heart out to her. It doesn't go as smoothly as he had hoped.
"Oh, Louie/Tickets" -- Louie freaks out while filming his terrible sitcom pilot, then has to go beg for Lady Gaga tickets from none other than Dane Cook, who has been accused of stealing his jokes.
"Come On, God" -- Louie is brought onto a Fox News program to defend masturbation against a woman whose group wants people to stop for the sake of their souls. Normally, this would exasperate him, but when Ellen (Liz Holtan, The Trouble with Bliss) turns out to be cute and really sweet, he somehow thinks he has a chance with her.
"Eddie" -- One of Louie's old comedy cohorts (Doug Stanhope) shows up for an unexpected visit, he admits something to Louie that he doesn't want to hear.
"Halloween/Ellie" -- First, Louie takes his daughters out trick-or-treating. Later, in a brainstorm session for a cop comedy, his jokes draw the attention of a Hollywood executive (Veanne Cox, Marci X).
"Duckling" -- Louie goes to Afghanistan on a USO tour to find that his daughters have left a present in his bag to keep him safe. Oddly, it comes in handy.
"Niece" -- Louie's other sister suddenly drops her daughter off at his house and, though he has experience with young girls, he cannot communicate with a teenager.
"New Jersey/Airport" -- Louie winds up lost in New Jersey and has to be rescued by Chris Rock, then must drive Pamela to the airport where she tells him something he really doesn't want to hear.
A lot of comedians have come to television to write or at least conceive of themselves as fictional characters, but they often glorify their lives so much that the results are unwatchable. Louis CK is one of the rare few who shows all his faults without glorification and without devaluing himself. The character is definitely an exaggeration of the real life Louie, but while a ton of really bad things happen to the guy, he's always grounded in the fact that he's a good father who wants to be the best person he can be. It keeps him from being a pathetically lovable loser and makes him someone audiences can truly identify with.
The second season isn't as outwardly funny as the first, but that's okay, because the writing is cleverer and the production is more skilled than it was before. Louie still writes and directs every episode, though he's taken a step away from some of his editing duties, and it's clear he's becoming more comfortable with the medium all the time. The budgets are low and the stories are simple, but the episodes are consistently smart and visually interesting.
The format hasn't really changed this year, with a standup clip prefacing either one or two plots that involve his daughters, his attempts to date, or life as a comedian. It's all situational discomfort and he writes it more believably than just about anybody out there. There might not be as many huge laughs this year, but the show is more consistently excellent at the same time. "Bummer/Blueberries" and "Come On, God" are the real standouts of the season, while Doug Stanhope's appearance in "Eddie was an excellent move. The final episode features the starkest contrast, with one of the more ridiculous first halves and the saddest second half of the entire series. Louie was on in the second season and every episode has plenty of gold.
Louie: The Complete Second Season arrives from Fox on two discs with solid image transfers and sound. The picture is detailed with good colors and the sound is consistently sharp and clean, but neither one is particularly special. For extras, we have audio commentaries on selected episodes by Louis CK. Smart and interested in the technical side of his production, he records some strong material on five episodes. None of them are very funny, nor are they intended to be, but you get a lot of behind the scenes information. The other extra is a brief set of interviews with various members of the cast at the season premiere of the show.
Louie is one of the most unique shows on television, and one of the very best. The humor will inevitably be too dark for some, but the situations are believable and sometimes really hard to watch, pretty much fitting in both with what I want and what I expect from the man. As Season 3 currently rolls on, upping the ante even farther, I look forward to seeing where he goes from here. Definitely recommended.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 314 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official site