It would be a misnomer to call Louie, the Louis C.K.-produced, written and directed FX show a sitcom.  Every episode is, instead, part sitcom, part stand up, and part arthouse film.

As it cruises through mundane life, Louie combines the observational comedy of Seinfeld, the rich pathos of The Richard Pryor Show and a true sense of human emotion.  Most weeks, Louie is not only funny, it is beautiful.

There is often an absurdist bent to the comedy in Louie (much more so than in Louis C.K.’s stand up routines, which only hint at some of the places the Louise chooses to go).  To question it is more or less beside the point.

Why is the actress playing Louie’s ex-wife (Susan Kelechi Watson) African American, but in flashbacks, the actress playing the younger version of the character is Caucasian?

Same reason that a painter who paints a bowl of fruit may wind up with a painting that doesn’t look like a bowl of fruit.  It’s not important to the art.  It’s not important to examine the process.

Louie, Louis C.K., Susan Kelechi Watson

Just like real exes: Kelechi Watson and Louis C.K.

What is important is the focus the characters place on their daughters; the willingness of the show to have two characters have an extended conversation on screen because that’s how real people actually talk – not in one liners or punch lines.  Life isn’t lived that way and neither is Louie.

You will not see a more unique, intelligent or meticulously crafted show on television right now than Louie.  Like I said, calling this a “sitcom” just doesn’t cut it.

 

SUMMER ALWAYS MEANS an influx of reality TV shows flooding the air, but it also signals the time networks trot out shows that didn’t crack the starting roster of the fall lineup but now get a chance to find an audience amid reruns and singing competitions.

Watching these shows is sometimes like watching a spring training baseball game – you recognize what you’re looking it, but it just ain’t baseball.  With Gang Related and The Night Shift, Fox and NBC both register a swing and a miss.

Borrowing from Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, Gang Related at least scores a few points for using an elaborate, suspenseful story set up.

Unfortunately, the show quickly departs from its Departed roots by populating its universe with one dimensional stock characters and immediately pursuing tired cop show plot developments that are beneath its lofty source material inspiration.

Looking for something even worse than that?  Then NBC’s The Night Shift, the medical drama absolutely no one was waiting for, is the show for you.

You know the one character on every doctor show ever made who is a brilliant or gifted or dedicated physician but can’t follow the rules and is willing to buck the system to save his or her patients?

OK, now imagine you had an entire hospital all of this one character and you have The Night Shift, a show about a San Antonio based ER populated by ex military medics.

The Night Shift

We need 10ccs of originality, stat!

If it sounds like you couldn’t possibly make a whole show every week on the thin ice of this premise, keep in mind that for comic relief the show features the latest item one of the docs removed from someone’s anus.  Yeah, feel free to tune in.

 

Quick Takes

Did you catch Key and Peele as FBI agents on this week’s Fargo, or were you distracted by Martin Freeman winning next year’s Emmy Award?

 

Reality Check:  Debuting this week, I had mixed feelings about The Wil Wheaton Project, Syfy network’s new weekly roundup show dealing with all things science fiction, fantasy and otherwise geek culture chic.

On the one hand, this was an enjoyable half hour diversion, and certainly the only show on TV talking exclusively about everyone’s (secret) favorite genre.  On the other hand, the show is not just using The Soup’s format, it shamelessly rips off The Soup, right down to the camera angles and in-studio “audience” noise.  For now, I’ll keep watching and hope that a little more originality finds its way into the fledgling effort.

After nearly a decade off the air, Lisa Kudrow’s phenomenal send-up of reality TV The Comeback is making a comeback.  The series will be back on HBO this fall.  If you never tuned in to the original, catch up now by watching the show’s only season so you’ll be ready for this truly excellent comedy when it returns.

 

Educational TV.  Things we learned from watching TV this week: 1)  Gwyneth Paltrow eats kale (The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson); 2) If you want to have a realistic American Girl doll, make her pregnant as a teenager, illiterate and give her a reality show (Chelsea Lately); 3) Running is actually extreme walking (The Soup).

SPOILER ALERT:  While I think it’s ridiculous that Mad Men won’t be airing the completion of its final season until 2015, I have to stand and wildly applaud its midseason finale, which was not only the best episode of the season thus far but possibly the best episode in several years.

Particularly touching were the scenes of the various characters huddled around TVs to watch the 1969 moon landing and the wonderful send off for Robert Morse as Bert Cooper, having him revert to his song and dance days in what was (presumably) his final appearance on the show.

Lest we forget, Morse won a Tony for his performance in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, and his rendition of The Best Things In Life Are Free was poignant and charming.

 

Looking Ahead

The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airs May 31 on HBO.

The season premiere of Bet On Your Baby airs on ABC on May 31.

Sing Your Face Off debuts May 31 on ABC.

The season finale of Silicon Valley airs June 1 on HBO.

The series premiere of Halt & Catch Fire airs on AMC on June 1.

Happy airs on PBS on June 2.

The season premiere of Longmire airs June 2 on A&E.

Mistresses returns to ABC on June 2.

The season premiere of Beauty and the Beast airs on The CW on June 2.

Famous in 12 debuts on The CW on June 3.

The series premiere of Jennifer Falls airs on TV Land on June 4.

Orange is the New Black is back on Netflix on June 6.

 

TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet.  Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on?  Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email:  [email protected]  I welcome your input!

 

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