Louis C.K.'s Horace and Pete
I am fascinated by whatever Louis C.K. does on TV. Loved his show: "Louie", which he also directed and edited. He's got a new project that's been flying under the radar, without formal distribution. Called Horace and Pete, it's basically a multicam live shoot of a stage play Louie wrote, in multiple parts. With an all-star cast of malcontents and alcoholics, set in a dive bar with 100 years of history,with an overall depressing vibe, it's not strictly comedy in the conventional sense, though it has funny moments. There's no audience reactions or laugh track. The first episode is five bucks to stream or download, other episodes are priced lower.
I took a risk because it's Louis C.K. and bought the premiere episode, runs a little over 30 minutes but seems longer because of the intensity. The setup was deep enough that I'm hooked to see where it goes for another episode or two. Alan Alda and Steve Buschemi play the bar owners, and they're both great. Jessica Lange and Steven Wright are part of the bar patron cast.
How would I *rate* it? The first episode was all-live, and there were two rough spots where the director took a bad shot and then corrected it. I was kind of surprised that wasn't fixed in the edit, but they may not have had the camera isos to recover the mistake. It didn't ruin the show for me, but instead gave it more of a live performance flavor. The show is very dark and somewhat tense, revolving around a lot of dysfunctional people working out extended-family drama between themselves. Alda's character makes a pretty large arc in just this one episode, going from someone everybody thinks is an @ss, to someone you might not like, but you can begin to understand. The story is about mistakes and attempts at second chances, and people fumbling to do what they thing is the Right Thing. It's nothing like "It's Sunny In Philadelphia", BTW. It's more like a darker version of the "Louie" show, with more adult and frank language.
I'll give it a strong B-plus for now; depends on where the story and characters go in the next couple of installments. But I'm really impressed by L.C.K.'s auteur-ship and the chances he's taking with what has to be a "passion project", making something to suit his own taste, saying what he wants to say, as the primary issue, and commercial appeal and the job of finding an audience, decidedly less important to him. He's doing what Welles usually could only dream of doing. We are living in a time when some of the very best television is being made - it's just not necessarily broadcast anymore.
[Mark Suszko] "I am fascinated by whatever Louis C.K. does on TV."
I haven't gotten to Horace and Pete yet, but if you love Louis C.K.'s brand of dark TV comedy, you need to check out Baskets on FX. He co-created the show with Zach Galifianakis and one other guy, and C.K. co-wrote 7 of the episodes. Zach G (not spelling that anymore) plays a failed clown in California named Chip Baskets, and it's probably way darker and more depressing than "Louie" is. And a different Louie, Louie Anderson, plays Basket's mom, and in 100% sincerity, deserves an Emmy. He's fantastic in it. It's a very good show, in my opinion.
Conflicted now, because I like L.C.K. but have never laughed at Zach Galifianakis in anything.