Home / TV Review: HBO’s Lucky Louie Premieres to Thunderous Yawns

TV Review: HBO’s Lucky Louie Premieres to Thunderous Yawns

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HBO was betting we'd never look at sitcoms the same way again after we viewed Lucky Louie. Well, that's what they said in their promos for the show.

From the official "about" page over at HBO.com:

Welcome to the end of the sitcom as you know it.

They've been a staple of the commercial networks since "The Honeymooners," but there's never been a sitcom quite like this before. HBO breaks new ground with "Lucky Louie," a fresh, funny, and very adult comedy that looks at the challenges of marriage and family through the story of a young couple who are just barely getting by. 

If the premiere episode is any indication of what's in store for viewers the rest of the season, it'd be safe to say we should never want to look at this particular sitcom ever again.

Don't get me wrong, there were moments of laughter to be found in Louis C.K.'s new comedy series. However, they simply didn't outweigh the painful acting or the rest of the setup viewers were given on the first go 'round. I was a little disappointed at how stilted it was. I laughed a few times, but not nearly as much as I cringed. And that's not a good way to start a new series.

Sad sack Louie works part time at the muffler shop and plays Mr. Mom the rest of the time. Wife Kim works as a nurse and is, essentially, the big bread winner for the family. Lucy, the couple's child, is a curious kid doing and saying all the normal things any parent is sure to recognize.

In the first episode, little Lucy, who is about to celebrate her fourth birthday, is asking Louie endless "why" questions to everything he says; Kim's sad that her little darling is growing up and decides she wants another baby; Louie hates being broke and really wants to make nice with the black family in the apartment across the hall; and various friends show up to throw advice at poor Louie.

I wasn't impressed. The "whys" from the child went on far too long and Louie didn't get nearly as exasperated with his answers as a normal parent would have. Lucy's whiny and, frankly, obnoxious behavior at her birthday party went unchecked, something most parents I know wouldn't allow to occur without reprimand. Kim's "sex isn't high on my priority list" until she wants a baby attitude was too obvious and overplayed. Louie's struggles were something we can all recognize as part of life, but his reaction to them didn't really ring true. Sure, this is comedy (or, rather, it's supposed to be), but there was little depth to the acting and poor delivery with the "funny."

Of the rest of the cast, the only actor I enjoyed was Jim Norton. Now, this may be purely a personal thing, but in my opinion, Jim can wring laughter out of a bone-dry washcloth more often than not. He made the most of the material (no pun intended) he was given and I can't fault him for the quality of the script. I only hope and pray he's showered with better stuff from here on out. Otherwise, this is an absolute waste of time and effort for a actor/comedian of Norton's caliber.

Actually, it would be a waste of time and effort for the entire cast to continue without some major improvements to the script and the production quality. The lighting was far too harsh, making the actors and the scenery appear flat. When the lines are falling flat, the last thing in the world you want is a set that does the same thing.

While I understand the idea behind the "filmed before a live audience" concept, in order for that to work, you need actual film as opposed to what really looked like video to me. A perfect example of this is the first season of Newhart in 1982. Bob Newhart didn't like the image quality rendered by video and switched to film for all subsequent seasons. Not only was the set given depth, the actors no longer looked drawn or washed out.

As I stated early, the script for Louie needs serious tightening. Compared to other HBO shows like Entourage or even the failed The Comeback, Louie is highly uneven and lacks any real punch. Episode one came across as a tacky throwaway you'd find on a marketing survey tape. You know what I mean – those sitcom pilots you get in the mail and are asked to rate while, in reality, marketers are wondering if the sample commercials were more interesting and effective.

Louis C.K. and his cast deserve much better. I sense untapped hilarity, especially for the supporting cast. At the rate the show's going, I'd rather watch reruns of The Jeff Foxworthy show, with or without Jonathan Lipnicki or Jay Mohr. Or maybe it's worth it for me to keep watching just so I can get my fill of the normally crude and delightful Jim Norton. Yes, it's come to that. I'm not ashamed to say it. I've missed him ever since Tough Crowd was cancelled.

I'm not giving up on Lucky Louie, but I'll approach it with a cautious eye in the coming weeks. I'm hoping for big improvements and you should, too. 

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About Joan Hunt

  • After all the hype, I was very disappointed. I thought the show was a seious yawner. If it doesn’t improve fast it may not make it through the season.

  • I was hoping for better, too. Looks like next week should be a bit better, but we’ll see.

    All I know is I get a glimpse at the lovely Jimmy Norton and that will suffice for now. Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment, but what’s a gal to do?

  • I agree somewhat. I see the point in taking the sitcom live audience model and making it an HBO show, but this was not the strongest episode to prove that it’s worth it to have a live audience half hour. Still, it’s too early to tell off of one episode. When this episode was funny to me, it was really funny.

  • The incredible attention-seeking whore that I am, I contacted Jim Norton and he assures me it gets better from here on out. New director, etc. Still no offer of a nasty, vulgar, debauched one night stand from him, but a gal’s gotta have dreams. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

  • essron

    i think this show is amazing, never miss it. arguably the saving grace of situation comedy that justifies decades of lame, boring, canned laughter endured so that Lucky Louie can exist. It seems to have more in common with theatre than television, confronts tough issues unapologetically and sometimes (rightly) without resolution. i’m shocked many don’t seem to agree. Long Live Louie.

  • “I wasn’t impressed. The “whys” from the child went on far too long and Louie didn’t get nearly as exasperated with his answers as a normal parent would have.”

    Wow, that was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. You know this is a sitcom, not a reality show. The fact that the joke went on that long was the precise reason it was funny. Stick to Sex and the City.

  • All the shows since the premiere have been much improved, drawing laughs from everyone in the house.

    As for SATC, didn’t like it, avoided it at all cost.

  • I absolutely love the show. It’s such a breath of fresh air with all these OTHER crappy sitcoms on TV. I love the raunchiness, love the humor–I really love it.

  • The show has definitely picked up the pace and I couldn’t be happier. Now if only they’d find another kid…she grates on every nerve.

  • The kid annoys the hell out of me too. In the most recent episode I so wanted to strangle her. But I’m not sure if it’s the actress, or just the character.

  • good point. still….

  • Eric P

    What is a yawnfest is this review. I don’t know if i saw the premier or not, but all of the shows I’ve seen have been fantastic.

    I hereby crap on the reviewer. Lucky Louie rocks. I own like 2 DVD’s total and I desperately want to get this series if that means anything.

  • Now if you didn’t see the first episode, how can you “crap” on me? I’m absolutely correct in my assessment of it and have already stated how the show has picked up the laughs in subsequent episodes. Either your reading comprehension is lacking, or you just felt like being rude.

    All better now?

  • Dave

    Although its far from perfect,as in polished,I really enjoy this crude ,raw show.The feel of the show is almost like a stage play and I for one, hope it succeeds.I really think it’s laugh out loud funny.As far as the little girl,I’m not expecting much more than a prop for what is obviously lots of “adult” humour.

  • annmarie

    I LOVE THIS SHOW!!!!!! I looked foward to watching it every sunday night. The only YAWNING i did was after lucky louie was over because there was nothing else on tv that was as great as this show. Hope to watch many more episodes in the future – I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

  • nelly aka the people’s choice

    I don’t care what anyone say’s this show is hilarious and it touch’s home with alot of it’s topics wheather ur rich or poor black or white man or women it’s 1 of the realest shows out there and they tackle real issues life unlike these other show that sugar coat life louie u are ok in my book

  • xabistuff

    HBO cancelled the show lucky louie, this sucks! if we sign the petition and make our voices be heard im sure HBO will bring the show back.

  • korean FAN

    My English is not so good 🙂 Hi im korean fan sitcom’lucky louie’ is very fun & interesting .. but ‘lucky louie’ is first season completed .. korean fan’s want Second Season .

    i love american sitcom 🙂

  • cooltroy

    If you didn’t think that this show was funny as hell, then you are not funny. The show was the best on tv, because it was real, not all PC and full of predictable bullshit corn. it was fresh and not like any other.

  • cooltroy

    Jimmy Norton Rules!!!!