DVD Review: Louie: The Complete Season 3

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Comedian Louis C.K.’s award-winning sitcom Louie endures the indignity of a MOD-only (“manufactured on demand”) release for The Complete Season 3. After the first two seasons were issued on normal DVDs and Blu-ray, it’s more than a little surprising to see the popular show consigned to the DVD-R format. The good news is that, despite some buyer reports that early copies were presenting an array of technical glitches, the product I reviewed was in perfect working order. If unimaginative artwork and/or a total lack of special features are sticking points for you, this release will feel like a compromise at best. But with more and more people switching to strictly digital media, it seems to be making less and less financial sense to roll out traditional physical product.

As for the season itself, all 13 episodes are included in this two-disc set. While C.K., who writes and directs each episode himself (an almost unheard of rarity in episodic television), regularly gets away with bloody murder on FX in terms of “adult content,” it’s strange to hear bleeped F-words on DVD. Though that’s another mild annoyance, the consistently funny and occasionally thought-provoking episodes are well worth owning. The rewatchability factor is off the charts high for Louie, which frames very simple “plots” with footage of C.K. performing stand-up. It’s as if Louie (C.K., playing a fictionalized version of himself) has an uncanny knack for rubbing shoulders with the oddest people imaginable. Yet the show rarely feels over the top, even when truly out-of-leftfield elements creep in. The episodes, as compact as they are (each only runs about 20 minutes), always manage to surprise by going in the least predictable directions.

Viewers interested in season three are most likely well acquainted with the first two seasons, but if you aren’t it’s not a big deal. This season can be jumped right into, as C.K. doesn’t really build an overall story arc. Louie, a single dad to two girls, drifts through his life in a kind of existential crisis. As his daughters, Hadley Delany and Ursula Parker are terrifically natural child actors. Louie is a successful but unsatisfied stand-up comic. Many of the episodes deal with his unluckiness in love. In one episode, he’s set up with a very demanding older woman (Melissa Leo). In another, he goes out with a flighty bookstore employee (Parker Posey) who appears to be bipolar and in need of medication. Their date is a wash—not a success but not a failure, just very weird. When Louie enlists the help of another bookstore clerk (Chloë Sevigny) to locate her, he finds himself in the company of yet another oddball.

Those guest stars should give some indication of the kind of talent Louie attracts, but there’s much more. Nearly every episode has at least one surprise guest, perhaps the highlight being director David Lynch’s two-episode appearance as a late-night talk host “trainer” (he provides Louie with hopelessly outdate political jokes to help him prepare for a network audition). C.K.’s audio commentaries on the previous season releases were well worth hearing and they’re very much missed here. While this MOD release may be off-putting for fans, maybe if enough folks pick it up, Fox will return to the standard DVD/Blu-ray format for the home video release of season four.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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