TV in Review: Louie, “New Year’s Eve”
October 9, 2012 Leave a comment
(Warning! My TV reviews tend to have spoilers…)
I’m a little late recapping the season finale of Louie, but then again, they’re a little early with the whole “New Year’s Eve” thang, and I resent them stopping for a breather. Louie shouldn’t ever be allowed to stop. Does this man really look like he needs a rest?
The episode starts with a sad guitar strumming as a downcast Louie clutches his coffee, catapulting us straight into Melancholy Louie mode. What’s the contrast? Why, it’s Melancholy Louie vs. Gleeful Girls, as Jane and Lilly open their Christmas presents.
A series of flashbacks lets us see Louie’s struggle to create the picture-postcard scene. We get much more than the simple sight of Louie asleep underneath the wrapping paper. There are oh-so-many ways in which Louie presents the panicked Christmas-buying rush in a superior fashion to, say, the 1996 classic Jingle All The Way. Remember Jingle All The Way? Who better than Governor Schwarzenegger to exemplify the family values of the holiday season?
Okay, so I never actually saw that Schwarzenegger and Sinbad holiday disaster, which won a Razzie for Worst Director and garnered a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Louie goes over the top as well, but in his own way. Louie’s desire to please his girls comes out in quiet desperation and absurdity. A doll has its eyes literally roll backwards into its head, and so Louie has to operate with chopsticks. And then he has to rip its hair off. And then he has to drill into the doll’s head.
Louie tears the head off said dolls, finds three eyes inside its head, and reacts like the mature adult he is…
LOUIE: Shit on my father’s balls. Shit.
It’s a sad yet hilarious scene. There’s a hacksaw, super glue (of course), scissors, needle-and-thread, and a sticky couch which causes even more damage (and a few tears). Louie even sautes crayons.
Louie is not up for a happy Christmas, as he sees his children disappear behind an elevator door, along with his ex-wife and her current partner.
The whole doll repair sequence exemplifies the show’s commitment to coming up with flights of fancy and then following them well beyond what is easy, which becomes one of the major points of “New Year’s Eve.”
I’m not so sure about the picture they paint of a depressed, lonely old Louie. In a dream sequence, Lilly and Jane gossip about how he’s gone downhill.
LILLY: All he does is sit in that big old chair and eat pinwheel cookies.
Really? Sitting in a comfy chair and eating cookie after cookie is a bad life? I gotta get out more often.
It’s delightful to see Amy Poehler play Louie’s sister Debbie…
DEBBIE: Are you all by yourself?
LOUIE: Well, do you have to say all? I mean, can’t I just be by myself?
…but it would also be nice to see her used more.
What to make of the enigmatic ending, in which Louie sees old beau Liz die and then winds up celebrating New Year’s Eve in China? In almost any other sitcom, I would throw up my hands and give up as soon as they entered into some sort of mystic Orientalism, but I think that Louis CK is actually fairly cognizant of his privilege as a white man and doesn’t use China or Chinese people as some sort of magical race who knows how to live life in the way that the woebegone westerners have forgotten.
Louie’s journey to China is somewhat childlike. For starters, it’s literally inspired by the children’s book he buys Jane, The Story About Ping.
And I gather that, geographically speaking, it’s childlike to look for the Yangtze River in Beijing. Louie seems so weighed down by the burdens of adulthood — trying for the big late night talk show job, dating, being a father — that I felt fine with him regressing to childhood, laughing as he attempts the simple act of speech.
I simply appreciate the journeys that Louie takes, and am grateful that he allows us to join him. Now…when does the next one begin?
FX first broadcast Season 3, Episode 13 of Louie on September 27, 2012.
Polentical: TV in Review: Louie, “Late Show: Part 3″