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Featured TV on DVD Review: Louie: Season Two

June 20th, 2012

Louie: Season Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Louis C.K. returns for a second season of Louie. The first season earned a couple Emmy nominations, a WGA nomination, as well as some other nods and a couple wins. Can it maintain this level of quality through the second season?

The Show

Like I said last time, this is a hard series to review, because it is very much like a stand-up comedy routine. Most of the time, each episode consists of two sometimes related stories with little regard to continuity from episode to episode. When you subtract the time spent showing Louis C.K. actually doing stand-up, the stories are less than ten minutes long. There's not even basic continuity in the show, so I can't talk about overall themes for the season. In fact, he no longer has a brother, but instead has a couple of sisters, while the actress playing the younger daughter, Jane, was changed from Ashley Gerasimovich to Ursula Parker. (By a strange coincidence, both of these actresses were in We need to Talk About Kevin.) Fortunately, there are some things that stay the same, including Pamela Adlon returning as Pamela, who is not only in a handful of episodes, but is also a consulting producer and wrote one of the stories.

The basic plot is simple. Louis C.K. plays a fictionalized version of himself, a stand-up comic who is divorced and shares custody of his two daughters, Lily (Hadley Delany) and the aforementioned Jane, with his ex-wife. We see him try to be a good dad, which includes flipping his daughter the middle finger behind her back. To be fair to him, he's a really good dad trying to have a social life, or just a sex life. We also see him dealing with his career, although this is the subject that gets the least amount of focus. Granted, whilst every episode has a lot of his stand-up in it, his career isn't used as a driving force for the plot of many episodes. Like the first season, the show's tone can swing wildly from one episode to the next, or even from one scene to the next. How many shows can try and get away with ending a scene about a woman potentially having yet another miscariage with a fart joke? The humor can be a little dark at times and to say Louis C.K.'s brand of humor can be self-deprecating at times is an understatement. This combination might turn off some viewers, but these people were likely not fans of the comic's stand-up work to begin with.

In my mind, Louis C.K. is one of the best stand-up comics around and Louie is one of the best stand-up to sitcom translations around. Obviously Louis C.K. having complete control over the show helps in this regard, while he has surrounded himself with a talented cast. Is season two as good as season one? Yes. In fact, I think it is a little bit better. There's not a single episode that isn't worth watching more than once.

On a side note, I only recently learned of the, ummmm, alternative name for Brazil nuts, after reading about it on Basic Instructions. I'm stunned that the name was ever considered acceptable.

The Extras

Louis C.K. sits down for solo audio commentary tracks on the first five episodes of the season. They are not exactly energetic, but he's involved in every aspect of the show, so he's got a lot of information to hand out. There's also a short featurette on the world premiere of the second season. The number of audio commentary tracks is great, but I would have liked more interviews and maybe deleted / extended scenes like we had in season one, or outtakes.

As for the technical specs, the show is shot on a Red digital camera and it has excellent details, colors, etc., while there are no compression issues or signs of digital manipulation. On the other hand, this is not a visually stunning show. Likewise, the dialogue is very clear, but the 5.1 audio track is uncomplicated. I would have liked an option for an uncensored audio track, but that's not a deal-breaker.

Finally we get to the price. The Blu-ray cost $5 or 20% more than the DVD, which is a great deal for a TV on DVD release.

The Verdict

If you like Louis C.K.'s style of humor, then you will likely love Louie: Season Two. It's not your typical sitcom, although it does deal with some of the same subjects. However, it deals with it in a way that's rather unique to its star. The DVD is worth picking up, but the Blu-ray is the better deal and worthy of Pick of the Week.

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Filed under: Video Review, We Need to Talk About Kevin