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LOUIE, “Late Show, Part I” Episode Recap

Louie can get pretty dark from time to time. I mean, our hero has witnessed a guy literally losing his head after getting hit my a truck, for goodness sakes. But the show’s tone is highlighted best when it delves into the darkness of the human psyche.

On the surface, “Late Show, Part I” might seem like the show is simply trying the recreate parts of the late night saga revolving around Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno a few years back. There are clear similarities, like Conan being an unwilling fall guy for the network to pin blame on a failing show to give it leverage to go with the guy they really want. But mostly, the episode deals with the dirty, seedy underbelly of Hollywood and how its ideals clash with an artist’s integrity.

An episode full of great moments was highlight by an incredibly captivating final scene. After Louie absolutely killed on Leno’s show, he gets a meeting with a high-powered CBS executive (played wonderfully by Garry Marshall), who tells Louie that David Letterman is retiring from the Late Show, and that Louie could be his replacement. Louie originally mistakes this as a job offer, which he declines. He doesn’t think he’s the right man for the job and doesn’t know why the network doesn’t just go after someone like Jerry Seinfeld. Turns out, Louie’s head is in the right place, because CBS really does want Seinfeld, but the $12 million dollar a year price tag is too steep when someone like Louie can be had for a small percentage of that.

The executive gives it to Louie straight — you’re a good comedian, but your on the back 9 of your career. It’s not going to get much better. You make solid money right now, but that’s going to go away, and eventually you’ll be teaching comedy at a community college in order to support your daughters.

Louie’s probably right —  he’s not the best man for the job. He’s not incredibly sociable or good looking. But he’s the economical choice for the network. For CBS, it’s a win-win. If Louie succeeds, they have a cheap and funny fresh face in the late night game. If Louie fails, it can ditch Louie and grab Seinfeld, no harm, no foul. But now Louie must weigh the options. Should he take the pay day for a job he’s not nearly confident he can do, knowing that if he fails the entire weight of the situation will fall on him so hard that it’ll be nearly impossible for him to recover?

Marshall’s executive is a brilliant example of the modern-day devil hiding in plain sight. He knows how business works and he has no qualms with explaining the ugly truth of the situation. He’s an extension of Louie’s soul, highlighting the pros and cons in explicit detail without showing any bias either way. The ensuing decision will be Louie’s to make and his alone, and therefore the fallout to come with either lift Louie’s career into orbit or send him deeper into despair.

Other Thoughts

– The long opening shot of the Improv in LA accompanied with an ominous score was both beautiful and foreboding.

– Louie railing against Amazon reviews made us all feel like pieces of shit for a minute.

– Love having Doug, Louie’s incredibly young-looking agent, back as a featured player.

– Louie’s Larry David moment of the week: His anger and confusion over being disturbed despite the “Do Not Disturb” sign he put over his hotel room doorknob.

– Jay Leno being a good sport, guest starring in an episode clearly inspired by his actions.

– This is the first part of Louie‘s first-ever three-part story arc. What do you think will Louie will do and how will it turn out?

Find Nick DeLorenzo directly on Twitter @nick_delorenzo and remember to follow @ScreenInvasion!

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Nicholas DeLorenzo

Nicholas DeLorenzo

television writer/social assassin