The good thing about the relationship that comedian Louis CK has with the FX Network is that they are perfectly willing to allow him the time and space he needs to produce content for the show. So with Louie he gets to expand on broader themes, thoughts and feelings that he would not have the chance to do otherwise, in a medium he would not he access to otherwise, and the results thus far have been excellent.
Season Five finds the show down half of its normal production schedule of 13 or 14. The reason why is that Alan Sepinwall reported that CK had a last minute change of heart to FX, deciding to proceed with filming despite a delay about to be announced the next day because of a writing splurge he had while high, but once sober saw what he wrote and…not so much. So the fifth season of adventures surrounding Louie and his family and friends is a little more humor-forward than most, but still manages to look at some of the greater components in life.
There are a couple of small duds even in an eight-episode run; the opener "Pot Luck" takes a bit of a weird comic turn, and episode 3's "Cop Story" is one of the weaker episodes in the show's memory. But when it's focused it still remains a tender and sweet creative presence, such as in "A La Carte" and "Bobby's House," both of which are when Louie decides to try and further his relationship with Pamela (Pamela Adlon, Say Anything).
When the show does hit on larger things like in "Untitled," where Louie's nightmares about a boogeyman seem to hint at a greater fear, it's handled with humor and a balance of emotion that people have grown to expect from the show. Should we be afraid of castration in everyday life? Maybe not, but Louie's apprehension and self-doubt is something that is palpable to a lot more people than you would imagine, and the show handles the fear and the abstract nature of what's being afraid of, nicely.
Season Five culminates in a two-parter for Louie about life on the road, one a bit more dour and depressing than the other. In the first part, Louie explains to the driver why the live of a comic on the road, at Louie's age, just isn't cracked up as people think it is. At 47, Louie has seen as he says "all the people," and doing stand-up on the road is a means to an end, the latter of which being to make a living and support his kids. The second part finds him in a weirder place, sharing a condo with his opening act, played by CK friend and veteran comic Jim Fiorentine (of Crank Yankers notoriety). A great thing about CK casting friends like Fiorentine, Nick DiPaolo and Jim Norton is that he has known these folks for years along with being their peers, he can communicate to them directly and without any pretense, get what he wants out of them, and they deliver. Fiorentine cuts to the chase of why Louie is jealous of his character, and Louie crumbles into an emotional heap. Not only because of the trip he's endured to that point, but he seems to find relief and pleasure in the fart jokes of Kenny (Fiorentine). It's not that the grass is greener for Louie, but sometimes, he wishes things could be that simple. As we all do I would presume.
There is some uncertainly about whether or not Louie would return for a sixth season, but in its fifth one, we find Louis CK continuing to move along storylines, while surrendering to laughs more than rumination in others. There is some uncertainty about whether Louie would return for a sixth season, but even if it did return, I don't think there is a need for there to be a bow of closure wrapped up over anything. If life doesn't provide it, why should an arthouse comedy show?The Disc:
The season's eight episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and if I didn't know any better kind of look like a DVD-R job from a digital transfer. Colors and flesh tones look natural, but transitioning to a standard definition view, at least trying to borrow from memory from a year ago when the show first aired, remained a little rough. It was a decent presentation, and I know why physical media for the show is almost exclusively on-demand only, but I can still complain, can't I?The Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for all eight episodes, and they don't get a lot to do in terms of an expansive soundstage. Dialogue sounds good, the whimsical music that the show provides (and to be fair it's not that prevalent) appears in the rear channels when the demand calls for it. It is a solid reproduction of the show's audio from the original broadcasts.Extras:
Nada, which is simultaneously a bummer and not surprising, to be honest.Final Thoughts:
Compared to other seasons of Louie that have been downright magical like Season Two, Season Five feels a little thrown together, but even a thrown-together, somewhat high half-season of Louis CK's TV comedy is better than damn near most anything on television at the moment. It tries to reign in some of its borders to be a little more consumable but there are moments of vitality that burst through and make it fun to watch. Technically it is fine, though the lack of bonus features make it hard to endorse a purchase. But if you have access to a streaming platform, I would definitely check this one out.