Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Watch this show! It makes no sense!

HBO has made its name with unconventional hour-long dramas about the mob, mortuaries and being married to three women at once. But the premium cable network’s new half-hour comedy doesn’t break with convention, it celebrates it. As a result, HBO might have its strangest show yet.

“Lucky Louie” debuted last Sunday after the season premiere of the lightweight but entertaining “Entourage.” (“Lucky Louie airs Sunday at 9:30 p.m.) It features comedian Louis C.K., a schlubby balding redhead, as a schlubby balding redhead with an inattentive wife, a mouthy daughter and a group of sad sack friends.

The set-up is pure sitcom, and so is the show’s aesthetic. “Lucky Louie” is shot on tape with multiple cameras (none of that arty “Sopranos” cinematography here), and the set is composed of cheap scenery stolen from at least a half-dozen ’70s TV comedies. (I was reminded of “One Day at a Time” with a dash of “Good Times,” though C.K. claims it’s all “Honeymooners.”) Oh, and there’s also a guffawing studio audience reminding you when to laugh.

After seeing commercials for “Lucky Louie,” I assumed it would satirize the sitcom formula in some way, like combining realistic situations wiht a patently false setting and laughing at the juxtaposition. But “Lucky Louie” is no satire. Sure, there are F-bombs and graphic sex jokes they would never allow on “According to Jim.” But “Lucky Louie” plays nice with other examples of the “fat guy with a hot wife” sitcom genre. It’s like an after-dark version ABC’s old “TGIF” line-up.

I didn’t laugh much at the first episode (the jokes are way corny and obvious in accordance with the genre) but I was intrigued. Is this show for real? If so, why make a family sitcom parents can’t watch with their kids? If not, why would viewers forking out extra dough for premium channels want to watch a dumb, major network-style sitcom? Part of me wonders if there’s an obscure level of irony “Lucky Louie” mines that I have not yet discovered. Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense. I will continue watching until it does.


Anonymous Nick P. said...

Couldn't agree with you more. I knew Louis C.K. when he was a writer on Letterman and he was hilarious. He also has a reputation among comics as being one of the best of the best. So why was his sitcom so lame. I admit, there were some intermittently funny parts to Lucky Louie, but for the most part, lame. Like when the wife's friend (Laura Kightlinger) is in the grocery store spanking the packaged meat and doing sex talk, but a bystander was listening the whole time! Pure lameness. I guess you could say that they can tackle non-sitcom issues on this show (i.e. -masturbating after you're married), but Seinfeld did that with much more wit and grace. This is not a meta-sitcom, a la "It's Garry Shandling's Show," it's just a plain lame sitcom.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Terry Lipshetz said...

This show was much better than I expected. When I saw the promos I was starting to think HBO was stretching, but I was pleasantly surprised. My huge HBO disappointment was learning of Deadwood's demise.

2:57 AM  

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