‘Louie: Duckling’ Review

One of the most challenging aspects of a half hour show is simply its running time. Some ideas won’t work for a 22 minute episode. This week’s Louie was one of these occasions so Louis C.K. simply extended it to a 45 minute episode. Duckling involved Louie going all the way to the Middle East to entertain the troops with some stand-up comedy. For the most part the episode worked but not on the same level as many others have.

Louie heavily relies on two things: Louis C.K.’s unique sense of humor and the special brand of realism the show presents to give off a real-world feel. This episode had both of those things but not nearly in the amount that it needed to. Is this to blame on the extended run time? Yes and no. Duckling needed to be longer than the average episode but 45 minutes was a bit too long. Unfortunately the laws of television don’t allow for a show that runs between 22 and 45 minutes without commercials. Louie isn’t the first show to suffer from this and certainly won’t be the last.

The episode started with Louie picking his daughters up from school and their teacher forcing him to take the class pet ducklings home for the night. Then we get an incredibly well shot scene with the two girls playing with the ducklings in Louie’s apartment. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Louie is the best shot comedy on TV.

Then Louie goes off to Afghanistan. He is warned of possible attacks on the camps of troops that he will be entertaining but is promised protection. Then we see him perform for the troops resulting in the same amount of hilarity as any of his previous episodes or stand-up specials. The fact that Louis C.K. continually performs new stand-up material on this show week after week is incredible.

There are a lot of moments between the comedy in this episode that don’t really work. It all seems just a bit too drawn out. The ending makes Louis C.K.’s point clear but as soon as the event if over the episode ends. Had some extra time been spent after the climax the impact would have been much greater. That being said, had it been the end to a 22 minute episode it would have been brilliant. Everything seems a bit overlong here but I can see why Louis C.K. wanted some extra time to explore this idea.

There is a great episode somewhere in Duckling but it needs about 5 to 10 minutes cut out. That doesn’t stop the concept from being a great move for the show and the jokes from being hilarious as always. (8.5/10)

photo credit: http://video.tvguide.com/Shows/Louie

~ by mattsmoviethoughts on August 26, 2011.

3 Responses to “‘Louie: Duckling’ Review”

  1. I think the idea of keeping scenes long really emulates the life of a soldier. Long days, troup movements, malfunctions…..Also, it really gives you the first person feel of being a USO performer and what they go through. (It is very regimented just like the military). I thought the timing was fine and I never felt bored. The scenes with less action were filled with expostion, Afghan landscape, and great music. Louie knows what he’s doing. It’s like they say in Jazz music, it’s what in between the notes. Louie lets his show breath and live like a jazz composition. By doing this, the experience is vast and different for every viewer.

  2. @Dana Exactly what I was going to write before I saw your comment, otherwise great review!

    • Thanks Kaspar. I love the awkwardness and long pauses….because they carry weight. It’s like in a really good independent film (like ones by Mike Leigh)….where the space and silence builds the tension. Louie is an amazing talent. If FX hadn’t given him creative license, he would have had to churn something mundane.

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