The title echoed my thoughts after watching this season premiere of Louie. Louis C.K's quasi-autobiographical sitcom is one of the bravest and most experimental TV comedies around, but "Something Is Wrong" was a weak start to its third year. I have no doubt future episodes will be far better, and this will quickly be seen as an aberration, but it's a pity to restart the show with a dud. Newcomers to Louie (many persuaded to give this show a try by passionate fans) may feel no compulsion to persevere, which is a shame because unbridled genius could easily follow next week.
Louie had a bad day this week, like most weeks. He parked his car in a confusingly signposted area (earning the episode its biggest laugh); then he had lunch with girlfriend April (Gaby Hoffman) and managed to accidentally convince her that he wants to break up; his car was then destroyed by incompetent workmen like an episode of hidden camera show Beadle's About; and then Louie had an accident after buying a motorcycle as a replacement. Oh, and we also met Louie's ex-wife Janet (Susan Kelechi Watson) for the first time ever, which is odd casting because none of Louie's screen children are mixed race. C.K has apparently said he cast Watson because of her acting abilities, not her skin colour, which is... fine, I guess. It's up to Louie if he wants to forego logic.
Louie has never been a show with deep and complex plots, which wasn't the problem here, it's just that Louie's bad day didn't tickle my funny-bone. There wasn't a crowning moment of laughter or much identification with events, and neither was this one of the more challenging or thought-provoking episodes. Some of the best Louie's aren't laugh-out-loud hilarious, just unpredictable and edgy "short films" that have something to say about the human psyche (especially if you're a middle-aged guy living a somewhat underwhelming life), but "Something Is Wrong" didn't make any insightful points. The moment Louie watched his car get crushed by a digger was actually a very incongruous visual joke, too, completely missing the tone of the show.
My hope is that Louie C.K wrote a weak episode because he was out of practice, but he'll get back into the swing of things. The wonderful thing about Louie is that FX give C.K complete artistic control over everything (because it costs so little to produce and is seen as a prestige project), but that arrangement also means there are fewer people telling Louie a script needs some rewrites. But, hey, that's what you get with Louie. It's one man's undiluted vision that often results in very astute, entertaining, dark comedy. It also means there are the occasional instalments of meandering and pretentious pap, which contains a few neat ideas that don't come together.
- Actress Gaby Hoffman is perhaps best known as the child star of such movies as Field Of Dreams, Uncle Buck and Sleepless In Seattle.