I like these shows. So should you.
Louie (FX – Thursday 9:30 PM Central)
Back in 2006, Louis C.K. had an HBO comedy, Lucky Louie, that lasted 13 episodes. It was in the traditional three camera sitcom format filmed in front of a live studio audience and it had a laugh track. I’ve never seen it and I imagine Louis is okay with that. It was a troubled production as Louis had a contentious relationship with the network. I doubt he was terribly upset when it was cancelled.
A few years later he landed a new show on FX in which he had complete creative control. And it’s one of the best shows on the air. If you’re a fan of the comedian’s stand-up, you’ll already be inclined to like it. Like Seinfeld, it mixes Louis’ bits in front of an audience with story. Unlike the famed precursor, the situations tend to be less ridiculous and more dripping in brutal awkwardness and honesty. It’s sometimes painful to watch but never less than entertaining.
The first two seasons are available on Netflix Instant and on DVD/Blu-ray. The third season is currently running.
Longmire (A&E Sunday 9:00 PM Central)
Based on a series of novels by Robert Johnson, this is a young procedural that is steadily growing more comfortable with itself as it gets more episodes in the can. Aussie actor Robert Taylor plays the titular lawman Walt Longmire, a Wyoming sherif trying to keep order in a county that is disturbingly becoming more volatile. The weekly mysteries, usually centered around some unfortunate’s death, are typical of the genre but engaging enough to maintain your interest.
I personally hope the show stretches its legs a bit and has the confidence to get away from the murder-of-the-week format from time to time. There’s a lot of a great character actors in the show that they can do a lot with. Taylor brings a world-weary stoicism to the recently widowed sherif. There are some dark things in his past that have been alluded to in some vague flashbacks. Lou Diamond Phillips plays a bar owner and Longmire’s best friend, an indian off the local reservation where the cops have a less than amicable relationship with the county authorities. Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica fame plays Vic, a brassy deputy who brings her experience policing the mean streets of Philadelphia to the American west. Her working relationship and friendship with Walt has been a highlight of the first few episodes. Bailey Chase plays Branch Connaly, another deputy who feels that Walt’s getting a bit long in the tooth and has decided to run against him in the next election. And oh yeah, Walt doesn’t know it yet but Branch is totally sleeping with Cady, a local attorney who happens to be Walt’s daughter.
The show is gorgeous to look at. It’s filmed in New Mexico which serves as a worthy substitute for Wyoming. And, as long as the show doesn’t forget to focus on all these fun characters, I’ll be watching. Five episodes of the 10 episode first season have aired and can probably be caught on-demand from your local cable provider. A&E has already ordered a second season.
Big Brother 14 (CBS Sunday & Wednesday 7:00 PM, Thursday 8:00 PM)
I know, I know. Believe me, I know. Every year I tell myself I’m not going to watch this glorious train wreck of the very worst of human behavior. And yet, I always do. Can’t help myself. The show began the same year as it’s far more famous and watched network sibling Survivor and has been struggling for respect ever since. More than a decade later it’s still trying and still failing. The premise is simple enough. A bunch of wanna be movie stars (models, bartenders, fitness trainers, etc) get thrown together with some geeks and some random old people. The producers stage challenges in which contestants can gain the power to nominate people for eviction. Campaigning begins, alliances form, people lie to each other all within the confines of a tricked out house with no forms of communication to the outside world. 70 or so days later one victor emerges and I feel dirty for the next 10 months. It all plays out in as close to real time as a show can get and it’s ridiculously addictive.
The new season begins on Thursday, July 12. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!