Sunday, April 5, 2015

Louie Season 4- A Review

I'm late in the game, but seeing that the new season of Louie frustratingly has not been released on DVD (neither has the third season for that matter), I had to hold out until it hit NetFlix. Thankfully, they added it to streaming so I was able to binge the entire season in one sitting.

The idea of a comedian creating a show or even being involved in a show isn't really anything new. Richard Pryor was in a part of the The Richard Pryor Show in 1977 and was cancelled way too soon. Jerry Seinfeld was involved in Seinfeld. With that show, the concept of using standup bits that would introduce each episode felt fresh. Given that the show

The first two episodes are around and A-. Louie has been able to hone his craft as far as writing goes over the course of three seasons and it shows here. There are jokes. But they come so organically and out of human behavior. None of it seems forced. He definitely show an influence from Woody Allen.

Then comes the big stick of dynamite that is episode 3. So Did the Fat Lady delivers a scene to be reckoned with. One of brazen honesty. The whole notion of fat shaming is repulsive to me. So to see it dissected here showed that this is a show that is doing things few shows of its ilk would dare to try. 

This six part story arc shows Louie helping out a Hungarian woman (played by Ellen Burstyn) who is stuck in an elevator. After helping her, he comes to her apartment and meets her niece who doesn't speak English and falls for her. This was Louie's most Allenesque arc yet. I should note that the always awesome Charles Grodin plays Louie's doctor. He appears in episode 1. Relationships are the center of this saga as his relationship with his daughter Lily, his ex-wife and the Hungarian woman, Amia, are all examined. Communication is looked at through the non English speaking Amia and the problems that led to Louie's divorce. All of this taking place during an oncoming hurricane. A thematically rich series of episodes.

Seen as a self contained story within 6 episodes, this would have easily been in my top 10 films of last year had it been released in theaters. This is Louie at his most ambitious.

In the Woods represents some of the strongest writing Louis CK has done in his career. It deals with parents and how the cope with their kids using drugs. Flashbacks are incorporated but also are necessary. As they tell the story of how as a middle schooler, Louis and a couple of his friends were involved in smoking pot. His mother is brilliantly played by Amy Landecker. He soon becomes involved with a dealer played by Jeremy Renner. Everyone is brilliantly cast in this episode, which was dedicated to the late, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

This set of episodes does something daring. It turns the guy we love, our protagonist into a villain in a particular scene. Its an extremely uncomfortable moment. The Pamela storyline is my least favorite of the season but it still manages to keep me interested.

The season as a whole grinds everything the show has built to a screeching halt and says "Let's go left" when so many other shows would have gone right. It's experimenting with story structure. It's this type of writing that I hope continues in the fifth season.

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