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Josh Reviews Louie Season Three

I loved the first season of Louis C.K.’s FX show, Louie, but it took me a while to track down and then find the time to watch season two.  But after tearing through season two in just a few days (click here for my review), my wife and I didn’t waste much time before moving on to season three.

The show has not dipped one iota in quality.  Season three is just as funny and weird and unique as the first two seasons.

Thinking back on this season, I am immediately struck by three scenes that rank among the funniest things I have ever seen on television:

First there is Louie’s long, rambling, neurotic monologue that he delivers when asking out Parker Posey’s character in “Daddy’s Boyfriend” part 1.  This is a classic comedy moment, and something that would have felt at home in the middle of a classic Woody Allen film.  Genius.

Then there is the reaction of the women in the strip club in “Barney/Never” to learning of the death of comedy club owner Barney.  I won’t spoil it here, of course, but I almost fell out of my chair.

Then there is Louie’s crazy lunch with his uncle (played by F. Murray Abraham) in “Dad.”  It’s great seeing F. Murray Abraham back on the show (he played the swinger’s husband in the season two finale), and once again I love Louis C.K.’s willingness to cast the same actor in multiple roles, without worrying about the continuity of the show.  This scene is laugh out loud hysterical, so crazy.  Mr. Abraham creates such a wonderfully unique, memorable character.  I can’t believe he’s just in that one scene!!

Other thoughts on the season:

The great opening credits sequence is still here, though Louie gets a little more creative with how he uses it, sometimes using a shortened version and sometimes eliminating it altogether and just starting the episode.  The other new story-telling device is that for the first time Louie occasionally stretches a story out over multiple episodes.  In the two-part “Daddy’s Boyfriend,” Louie asks out an attractive woman (played by Parker Posey) who works at a bookstore he visits.  Parker Posey is spectacular in this guest role, and the long weird date that she and Louie spend together in the second episode is extremely memorable.  Then there is the three-part “Late Show,” in which Louie is tapped by CBS to potentially replace a retiring David Letterman as host of The Late Show.  That three-parter is a gold-mine of inside-Hollywood stories, and I loved the depiction of everyone lying and scheming to get Letterman’s spot (including Louie’s two “friends” Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, who both pop up briefly playing themselves).  Director David Lynch was a huge surprise playing the Hollywood veteran tapped by CBS to get Louie ready to be a host.  Mr. Lynch is a director, not an actor, but he’s fantastic in the role.  I do wish the episodes had given us a bit more of the reality behind-the-scenes of launching a talkshow, rather than the funny-but-crazy goings on between Louie and David Lynch’s character, but oh well.

Susan Kelechi Watson pops up several times as Louie’s ex-wife Janet.  It raised my eyebrows that they cast an African American woman to be the mother of Louie’s two very-white little girls, but I’ve got to say I love this color-blind casting.  Ms. Watson is fantastic, and I’m pleased to have read that she is more involved in season four.  (Here are Louis C.K.’s comments on her casting, by the way.)

Louie’s awkward new friendship with the lifeguard Ramon from “Miami” is a wonderful story, a classic comedic statement on the nature of male friendships.

I mentioned the episode “Barney/Never” above, and it’s truly an amazing episode, guest-starring the late Robin Williams.  (I love how many high-profile comedians Louis C.K. has gotten to appear on his show!!)  Robin Williams is mesmerizing in the episode, and it’s a great comedic story as Robin and Louie find themselves the only two people at the funeral of a jerk they both knew.  (In light of Mr. Willaims’ recent death, though, the vignette’s ending is now extremely sad: as Robin and Louie part ways, they each promise to attend the other’s funeral.)

The season finale, “New Years Eve,” is one of the show’s weirder episodes.  Louie has had quite a few different women playing his various sisters over the course of the show so far, and here Amy Poehler briefly pops up.  (I am not sure if she’s supposed to be another new sister, or if this is a re-casting of a sister who we’d previously seen… but with this show’s loose approach to continuity, it really doesn’t matter.)  A lonely New Years Eve leads Louie to chase after the tranquility he saw in a children’s book he read to his kids about a duck named Ping and the Yangtze river.  The show really does wind up with Louie in China!  We also get to see Parker Posey’s character again, albeit very briefly.  I was pleasantly surprised to see her again — since this show never feels the need to carry over the events of one episode on to the next, I didn’t think her character would ever return.  Her final fate is very weird, but I guess par for the course with this show.

This was another amazing season of an amazing show.  Now on to season four!!

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