Monday, July 5, 2010

Pilot Review: Louie

Louie (FX)
Premiered June 29 at 11pm

I’ll admit right off the bat that I am not a member of the target audience for this show. I don’t like “It’s Almost Sunny in Philadelphia,” and I absolutely despised the pilots of FX’s most recent comedy ventures, “Archer” and “Testees.” That said, this one isn’t quite as unbearable as the latter, but that’s about the only compliment I can give it. My only prior experience with series creator and start Louis C.K. was as Leslie’s subdued cop semi-boyfriend on “Parks and Recreation,” and I much preferred him in that role. Louis is mixing stand-up with plot in a similar way to “Seinfeld,” but the ratio of standup to story is much more even than it was on the popular NBC sitcom, which doesn’t work terribly well. I don’t personally find him funny at all, and that’s only part of the problem. When Larry David on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” offends people because of how he reacts to common situations, he deserves it because he’s a jerk. More importantly, it’s deplorable especially because these kinds of scenarios could happen to anyone and he is choosing to respond poorly. Titular character Louie is simply a poor schmuck who is neither despicable enough nor anywhere near endearing enough to make for a compelling protagonist. Anyone who encounters a bus driver who doesn’t know where he’s taking a bus full of kids, doesn’t know that you can’t drive a school bus on the West Side Highway, and abandons his bus in the middle of Harlem because he lives only a few blocks away is entitled to respond maniacally. This storyline shouldn’t belong to this character; it just doesn’t fit. If the first episode is forgettable and boring, the second is extraordinarily off-putting and offensive. Starting it out with a petty discussion of gay people is in poor taste, and it’s as if Louis/Louie is purposefully taking advantage of being on FX, knowing exactly what he can say and how far he can push the envelope (use “Nip/Tuck” as a bible for this). The use of flashbacks to Louie’s childhood and horrifically strong accents makes it almost impossible to get through the second episode. I have absolutely no desire, nor any resolve, to sit through a third.

How will it work as a series? Episode two is completely different from episode one, and not in the same way that most second installments stand apart from their pilots. Inconsistency is the rule of the day here, and I have no sense whatsoever of where Louie is headed, especially considering the supporting cast has been entirely different in each episode thus far. He can always fall back on his stand-up if (more likely, when) he doesn’t have a episodic plot to fill the half-hour, but its effectiveness will really depend on whether you think he’s funny in the first place.
How long will it last? The reviews for this pilot were mixed, but the last time Louis C.K. tried to make a show on a cable network, “Lucky Louie” lasted only one season on HBO. “Archer” and “It’s Always Sunny” have been successes for FX, whereas “Testees” was mercifully gone before too many had to suffer through even ten minutes. This new series likely has a profile similar to the first two, but may go the way of the latter. I don’t think FX will prove a good home for Louis and Louie either.

Pilot grade: F

No comments: