After an excellent sophomore season, the third installment of Louis C.K.'s Louie begins tonight. If you haven't jumped on the Louis C.K. bandwagon yet, now is the time. FX sent out press screeners of the first five episodes of Season 3, and while this evening's episode, "Something Is Wrong," is by no means a series highlight, it's a great introduction to the universe of Louie. What's better is that there's no continuity left over from last season -- though that will be a letdown to Pamela fans, I'm sure -- making it easy to jump right in. Here's what you'll learn from watching the premiere, and what you'll see if you stick around to watch more Louie:
Plain and simple, Louis C.K. is a great comedian and an excellent writer. The jokes on Louie are unlike your typical sitcom riffs -- they actually assume that their viewers are intelligent, so instead of predictable one-liners accompanied by a laugh track, they're strange, dark and sometimes just delightfully dumb true-to-life anecdotes. Louis C.K.'s comedy act is pretty filthy and that definitely carries onto the show, but for every crude joke about masturbation, there's a sweet one about his kids... and they're both equally hilarious.
The Drama is Great, Too
I highly recommend checking out Season 2's "Duckling" episode and this season's upcoming "Daddy's Girlfriend Pt.2" (though you'll have to wait until the end of July) to understand how much of a grasp Louie has on mixing the dark, light and the completely indigestible. The acting is impressive for a sitcom, and the format is interesting as well; it reminds me of the time Parks and Recreation's Mike Schur told New York magazine that if he could change one thing about network TV, it would be that episodes would vary in length from week to week: "I'm not sad that there are commercials, but every episode of our show has to be exactly 21 minutes and 17 seconds long. It's unlikely that the optimal length of every episode of our show is exactly 21 minutes and 17 seconds." FX seems to let Louis C.K. run loose on his format every week, allowing for some episodes to consist of basically three or four vignettes while other stories really take a solid hour (and two or three full episodes) to tell.
Sure, there will be a few minutes of Louie doing stand-up about jerking off, but it'll be followed with striking images of New York City (or whatever locale the given episode is set). The cinematography and obvious love for his city are often the highlights of the season.
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