Monday, June 28, 2010

"Louie" it's funny -- and painful -- because it's true

Is anybody else absolutely thrilled that the sitcom is back? I mean, for years, the format seemed to be struggling. Many new sitcoms didn't work and the few that did ("30 Rock," "Arrested Development")  had to fight for their lives. But, with the success of the Wednesday sitcom lineup ABC introduced last fall (well, it was mostly successful. RIP, "Hank"), funny is in again.
Of course, ABC isn't the only station coming up with high-quality comedy. Take "Louie," the new FX sitcom that premieres Tuesday at 11 p.m. The show stars stand-up comic Louis C.K. as, well, himself -- a stand-up comedian and single dad in New York.

 "Louie," like the early seasons of "Seinfeld," is a mix of scripted stories and stand-up bits. The scripted bits are more vignettes than standard sitcom stories, but they work,  particularly in the later episodes. The pilot veers a bit too much into surrealism, when a bad date ends with the woman literally fleeing from Louie via helicopter. But later episodes are bit more grounded. I particularly liked a sequence in the fourth episode when Louie arranges a play-date for his daughter, and ends up bonding with the other child's mother (Pamela Adlon). It's funny, poignant and feels authentic. Plus, C.K. is a great talent who has been kicking around forever. He's also the show's executive producer, and he's created himself a great vehicle here. The stand-up stuff is sharp and funny and, unlike "Seinfeld," is well-integrated into the other scenes (another extended sequence involves C.K. and another comic getting into a heated argument after a gig).
"Louie" is smart, resonant and -- most importantly -- quite funny. It's enough to make you glad sitcoms are back.

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