Louie: Scratch My Back, and I'll *&$# Your @#*!

Louie S03E02: "Telling Jokes/Set Up"

Ummm... I think just for this one episode we should change the name of Louie to Leo, because Melissa Leo as a cynical, chain-smoking, back-alley slut locked up the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress. One of the joys of Louie is that you never know what to expect when you start an episode. It can be poignant one minute and sophomoric the next. Heck, one episode in Season 2 broke the dramatic tension with a giant fart.

"Telling Jokes/Set Up" was the exact opposite of last week's awkward Season 3 premiere, "Something is Wrong." Things started off as sweet as ever, with Louie and his daughters exchanging jokes in one of those amazing familial moments that's so hard to capture on camera but that Louie so often nails. Twenty minutes later, Louie's head was under a woman's skirt in the front seat of a truck in an alley after getting punched in the face and having his manhood questioned.

That's the brilliance of Louie. It moves seamlessly from gentle to profane with little to no warning because the point of Louie isn't to send Louie on wacky sitcom misadventures (Louie learns the meaning of Christmas! Louie has two dates in one night! Louie's old college roommate visits and he offends Louie's girlfriend!); this is a series that's trying to deliver slices of real life. And as you all know, life is unpredictable and can change its tone over the course of a blind date disguised as a dinner party.

The episode's two segments—jokes with the kids and getting blown in a driveway—were tied together nicely even though one belonged on Nickelodeon and the other could have been directed by Zalman King. "Telling Jokes/Set Up" ("set up" as in the set-up of a joke and being set up at dinner) practically warned viewers of the 180 the episode would be doing when Louie started talking about his daughter's jokes. His favorite part of her jokes was that he had no idea where they night end up, and the story with Leo's character Lori was entirely unpredictable thanks to the brilliant set-up of the middle of the episode.

But all the while, it was completely believable... especially the fantastic scene in the bar with the two of them getting along like two curmudgeons who'd finally found someone who views the world just like they do. It opened up the possibility of a hook-up, but didn't bow down to the predictability of the same situation we've seen play out before. Louie was called a gay slur, punched in the head, and took the express route downtown. This is what happens when Louie runs into someone just as f***ed up, if not more so, as he is.

Louis C.K. isn't making a half-hour sitcom, he's making New Wave cinematic comedy in chunks of genius, not worrying about where stories start or end but always keeping them interesting and within the realm of possibility.

And how crazy is it that the episode went from this:

... to this:

... without making us feel like we'd started watching a different show?




Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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"Louis C.K. isn't making a half-hour sitcom, he's making New Wave cinematic comedy in chunks of genius, not worrying about where stories start or end but always keeping them interesting and within the realm of possibility."



Best description of the show. Ever.
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Ive been a fan of Louis CK for years and this how is Dynamite.
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"this how is Dynamite"



sounds like a great new catchphrase
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Big Louie fan. Yes, the girls are spectacularly cute.



But i loathed this episode.



The gross standup from last week had one cute idea and then a bunch of cringe inducing babble. This week the standup was all family cutesy.



The final scene. Again, a brilliant idea where she demands her turn. But then Louie didn't own the moment, like he usually does. There's no way in h e double toothpicks he's going to do that in that situation.



Louie sold out to the "ladies". (guess he's trying to make up for those Palin tweets)
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How amazing are those girls? They're the most real kids on tv. I love this show and this was a great episode.
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Such an awkward situation in the car haha. Trying to politely turn down cunnilingus so he can still get a ride to his bike lol. The nuances in this show are brilliant! Dark humour at its best.
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The first series was awful, so few really funny bits for a so called 'comedy' show, he's not that funny.
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Eh, I'm not liking it as much as I did season 2, so far. Don't know why.
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Everything's different, every tone, every nuance, every little moment between the 2 comics had different beats than before. And especially the camera work, that's like night and day from that season to this, before it was a little bit guerrilla camera work and it felt authentic and told stories; now it's schmaltzy and preplanned and smooth and too close to faces.
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Louie got raped!
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I wish episodes were not that short. The beautiful thing about Louie is that relaxed feeling where you don't know what to happen next and just enjoyin' blinking reality of life. Somehow it get structured into something in our heads even most free improv scenes. And I like becketian absurdity in this season)
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