Lucky Louie (HBO)

If Everybody Loves Raymond couldn't afford its big-budget cast, writers, or production values, yet still thought it was the coolest thing around, it might be Lucky Louie. This show rather pathetically fixated itself on being "The Last Sitcom" without ever really doing anything to distinguish itself even beyond the According To Jim level … unless you call pitiful and unwarranted male nudity "distinguishing."

A vehicle for comic Louis C.K., Lucky Louie prided itself a bit too much on being "boundary-smashing" and/or "bringing reality into the sitcom" (I quote my great-grandfather, who, despite severe dementia and incontinence, somehow remains pretty sharp with TV criticism). The problem is, LL never did anything a regular meat-and-potatoes network sitcom doesn't do … just lower-rent, and overall worse. More swearing, perhaps. But I got over that particular cable-TV thrill around the time of Bizarre, when swearing and nudity were enough.

Unfortunately, LL lacked the charisma of even a John Byner. As a leading man, Louis C.K. seemed timid, unsure, and undeserving … I've seen Carrot Top walk on stage with more confidence. As an observational comedian, he's pedestrian and unfunny … if anything, LL comes off like his ongoing suicide note. "I hate my wife! I hate my neighbors! I hate my life! But I'll hang in there, 'cause that's how it is!" Ha, ha. Funny shit.

The rest of the cast was likeable, though it was certainly the physically ugliest collective cast ever put together for any network. Perhaps that was part of their supposed intent to make this show a fly on the rotting corpse of the sitcom.

I guess if you really want to take on the sitcom as a format, you need to have more than $50 in the budget per show. You also need writers who don't confuse "swearing" with "being subversive."

The season (and I assume series) finale involved Louie and his miserable wife trying to come up with reasons to stay together, and they don't really come up with anything valid, but they stay together anyway. That may be a painfully honest human truth, but it ain't funny, man. Watching the show was like reading Sartre for the jokes.

Review by Dwayne "The Main Vein" Swain © 2007