DVD Review: Louie: Season Two

STUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Louis C.K. | CAST: Louis C.K. and others
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 6/19/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, BLU-RAY $39.99
BONUSES: commentaries, featurette
SPECS: NR | 314 min. | Comedy | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

 

In 2010, Louie introduced audiences to an unusual form of television – a free flowing format that may or may not deliver comedy; a show that’s consistent from one episode to the next, but only when it’s convenient; and installments that may or may not have a decisive conclusion. Essentially short films loosely based on the life of comedian and creative do-it-all Louis C.K., the series might at any time give us something emotional (like when Louie confesses his unrequited love to his gal-pal Pam in a moving soliloquy), something weighty (as when an old comic friend tells Louie of his plans to “check out” on life), or something mundane (a long car drive with two bored young kids).

Louie: Season Two

Louis C.K. (l.) goes at it with Hadley Delany in the second season of Louie.

Louie is the kind of show you get when a talented performer is given free reign to tell stories in whatever way he wants, with the audience acting as beneficiary.

Sure, there are many laughs, in both Louis C.K.’s stand-up bits that frame each episode and in some of the situations he puts himself in, and nearly every episode captures the verisimilitude of New York City, from its overpriced, hovel-like apartments to its enthusiastic street performers. Yet one of Season 2’s most talked about episodes, “Duckling,” is devoid of both, as Louie goes on a USO tour to Afghanistan to entertain the troops. Based on a real-life tour by Louie C.K., the extended segment is a moving and grin-inducing piece of television entertainment, despite the presence of several war-time clichés.

With a season of success under its belt, Season 2 also ups the guest-star ante, with appearances by Joan Rivers (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work), Dane Cook (Answers to Nothing), Keni Thomas, Chris Rock (Grown Ups) and others.

Four of the early episodes include commentary by Louie C.K., who acknowledges several times that he won’t remember the last names of any of the guest actors, even as he sings their praises. Recorded in his home (the phone sometimes rings in the background; fortunately he only answers once), the tracks left me wanting even more. The aforementioned episode “Eddie,” about the suicidal comic, includes one of the most compelling exchanges I’ve ever seen in episodic TV, and it would’ve been nice to hear Louie’s take on where that dialogue came from. Likewise, “Oh Louie/Tickets,” in which Louie gives television time to his real-life grievance over a perceived theft of his material by rival Cook, and “Subway/Pamela,” in which Louie bares his soul, cry out for commentary. I won’t speculate why there is none on these watershed moments for the series, but it is sorely missed. The only other supplement is a rote featurette on the premiere party for Season Two.

The first season of Louie was a great experiment in television. Season Two elevates it into the pantheon of simply great television. The bar has thus been set extremely high for Season Three, which premieres on June 28. Stay tuned.

 

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About Gary

Gary Frisch has been contributing laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray reviews to Video Business magazine, Home Theater Magazine, Home Theater Buyer’s Guide, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and the DVD Guide for more than 14 years. He still has a collection of more than 40 laserdiscs, along with a working auto-reverse LD player, but thinks Blu-ray is da bomb and anxiously awaits the original Star Wars trilogy so he can buy it for the fifth time.