A review of tonight’s “Louie” coming up just as soon as I get a credenza in Geneva…
“Dad” was the rare “Louie” episode where the sum of the parts felt greater than the whole. Each individual bit killed, whether it was the perfect punchline to Jane’s violin playing(*), F. Murray Abraham(**) being so marvelously of another era as Uncle Ex (this was my third time seeing the middle finger/condom bit, and the seriousness with which he plays it is perfect), Louie dealing with the inhumanity of the electronics store, the other comics rightly mocking Jim Norton for his hand-drawn pornography, or even Louie and the Boston guy hugging only seconds after he called Louie “queer.” I think this is the most I’ve laughed all season, and it’s more than I laughed through much of last season, as well. Just a collection of great little comic vignettes.
(*) I had just started to think, “Oh, isn’t that such a ‘Louie’ thing to do: just letting us watch the little girl play the violin so beautifully” at the exact moment when Louie yells at her to stop it. Expert timing, and the notion that for Louie, how well she plays doesn’t matter because she didn’t do her homework first felt right.
(**) Abraham was, of course, in last season’s finale as one half of the couple who tried to get Louie into a devil’s threeway, but A)C.K., like David Milch, doesn’t think twice about reusing the same actor in a new role, and B)He said at press tour that he didn’t feel the previous character “was that special a role as far as how I wrote it.” So he wanted to take another crack at the Oscar winner.
Yet as much as I liked each piece, they didn’t quite fit together as I watched them, and the fantasy ending of Louie racing through Boston and then out onto the Atlantic to get away from his father felt abrupt. It’s entirely possible that this is one where, the more I sit with it, the more I’ll see the connection from one piece to the next, other than as a series of incidents Louie endures on the way to making the decision that he doesn’t want to see his father. But thinking about it right now, it’s not entirely clicking. Though “Louie” often defies categorization, it usually has a strong enough sense of itself that episodes feel like the right length, whether it’s a single story or collection of them. “Dad” is the first one I can remember in a while where the end credits seemed to be coming much too soon, even as I understood that Louie had made the decision his doctor, the car rental woman, and everyone else had been pushing him to make.
But, damn, was it funny.
What did everybody else think?