TV in Review: Louie, “Late Show: Part 2″
September 20, 2012 Leave a comment
In a stereotypical sitcom, when the lead tells his ex-wife that he has a shot at replacing David Letterman on the teevee, but that it would mean less time taking care of their kids, the ex-wife would berate the lead for putting career ahead of family. Don’t worry that Louie abandons all of that. Louie still gets berated, but it’s from a different angle. Janet wants him to advance his career.
JANET: Forget the kids. The kids. I got the kids. You go do this. You go get this job. You go get this job.
And that’s what “Late Show: Part 2″ is about — Louie trying to get the job, despite his ambivalence.
Susan Kelechi Watson is a compelling actress, it can be difficult at times to read why Janet was ever married to Louie. The episode opens with both her and Louie demonstrating the patented Louie tension. We then begin to get glimpses into their past, and it starts to look like Janet isn’t encouraging Louie out of faith in his abilities or the universe’s capacity to provide, but due to frustration at the uncertainties of a comedian’s career.
JANET: Louie, you’ll see them on the weekends, you’ll have them over the summer. Yes, you’ll see them a lot less – but that’s because you’ll have a job.
LOUIE: I have a job.
So when Janet does encourage him, it’s double-edged. It’s a lift up and chastisement, wrapped together and delivered over a couple glasses of wine.
JANET: If you don’t do this, I mean, what was it all for? What did you put twenty years into this for? What did I put my nine in for? Listen, you’ve been a fine father. But nobody needs a father that much. The girls need a role model. They need to see you live and succeed.
Louie reminds us that the comedians who don’t hit it big are often condemned to keep toiling in the trenches.
JANET: I hate to see what the future will be if you don’t make this happen.
When Louie visits another network bigwig, first we’re dislocated by the old school wood paneling. Then, we’re delighted because it’s David Lynch playing Jack Dall.
That’s right, film nerds, m*therf*cking David Lynch!
I don’t know how to react. I start thinking about how Lynch had Richard Pryor in Lost Highway, so maybe he has comedy connections. I start thinking about how having to meet with David Lynch would probably be just as intimidating as having to meet with an old school network executive who times your ability to read cue cards on first meeting.
Did I say old school?
LOUIE (reading an old cue card): President Nixon today announced that he’s going to recognize China, but that if he’s not careful he might mistake them for Korea.
Yeah, it’s network racism, 1970s style.
Jay Leno’s back, delivering advice to Louie as to whether he should take the late night gig if it’s offered.
LENO: Don’t do it. Well, you know, you’re the hip guy, you’re the cool guy. That used to be me. But then you gotta do fourteen minutes every single night. Nobody is hip every single night.
Um, how about just one night a year, Jay? For old time’s sake?
And what do you think about Jay’s advice, Chris Rock?
ROCK: Jay Leno is a liar. Okay? He loves that job. It’s his whole life. He’s just trying to get rid of you.
I like how it works on levels. Jay Leno, who tends to be disliked by the other players in the late night wars — he’s been disparaged by David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers, Howard Stern, Conan O’Brien and more — gets to play with the question of whether or not he’s aware of his perceived behavior. Rock, on the other hand, gets to abandon his manic rapid-fire comedy mode and go with some slow pacing. Like, he gets to act.
Watching David Lynch play Jack Dall play Johnny Carson, for the education of Louie, is simply fun. It’s awesome when the imaginary audio of the soundtrack and audience cut in and out — very revealing. It’s not about the realism of late night television. It’s about the reality of Louis and Louie’s take on late night.
Louie’s having trouble adjusting.
LOUIE: I’m not wearing a suit. I’m sorry, I’m not doing it. I’ve been this guy for twenty-five years. I’m not gonna become a different person.
It’s this struggle that makes the metaphor of boxing so appropriate. Like the helicopter that whisked away a disappointed date in season one or the more reason flight away from his father through the streets of Boston, Louie adeptly uses situations as metaphors. Louie is trying to step into the ring, and he’s clearly out-matched.
I was more satisfied with Part 2 than Part 1 because the flow was better, and it built up some anticipation for watching Part 3. I figure it has to end in disappointment, but because that’s my presumption, I’m kinda hoping that it ends with some sort of success, or even a smidgeon of happiness. Regardless, I’m sure I’ll be surprised.
FX first broadcast Season 3, Episode 11 of Louie on September 13, 2012.
Polentical: TV in Review: Louie, “Late Show: Part 1″ (Season 3, Episode 10)
JRodger’s Movie Reviews: Review of Louie Season 3, Episode 11: Late Show (Part 2)
larkalong: Louis C.K., the Jerk-Off Genius