Horace and Pete


Photo Courtesy of Hitfix.

It’s a wonder that Louis C.K. ever gets a moment to sleep. His sitcom, Louie, is still the most out-there show on T.V. [though the seasons are necessarily an annual thing] and his stand-up specials [which are an annual thing] are consistently outstanding. He co-created a show with Zach Galifianakis called Baskets that just premiered and it actually gives Louie a run for its money for being the most odd and original show on T.V. [it’s about a man named Chip Baskets who wants to be a clown of the artful French standards, but is working as a rodeo clown]. He was just in Trumbo with Bryan Cranston. He also is developing another show with Pamela Adlon, in addition to guest spots on various shows.

All of this added to the surprise when it was announced that C.K. had just dropped a new series on his website without promotion of any kind. Three weeks ago, he released the first episode of his new project Horace and Pete. Shot days before it premiered, it isn’t just a quick web series that has C.K. goofing off with his friends. Quite the opposite. It is a pretty dramatic show [runtimes being anywhere from 40-70 minutes] with a stacked cast: C.K., Steve Buscemi, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange, Edie Falco, Steven Wright, and Aidy Bryant, with guest spots from Rebecca Hall, Maria Dizzia, and Laurie Metcalf.

The format is intriguing. It is done like a play, confined to one room per scene [most of the time a bar, named “Horace and Pete’s”]. The only music heard is an acoustic guitar piece performed by Paul Simon, which he wrote for the show. It only appears at the beginning, the intermission of each episode, and the end. There is a sense that, like a play, it is rehearsed and then showtime is recorded, without any second takes. It’s all conversational, the only action coming through words. You can hear the creaks of the stage.

Because it is shot right before it’s released, current events are discussed. The show, though much more dramatic and profane, is certainly reminiscent of Cheers. There are the regular barflies that are good friends with the owners, not being phased when they find out the beer’s been watered down for years. The show has no real focus, with plots fading in and out during the episode. It can start out about Horace’s [C.K.] problems in committed relationships and his broken relationship with his daughter [Bryant], go into Pete’s [Buscemi] battle with mental illness, and end with the failures of Uncle Pete to his family [Alda, standing out as the racist, homophobic, and misogynistic bartender that still manages not to be totally unlikeable, somehow]. One episode is entirely a conversation with Horace and his ex-wife [Metcalf], who haven’t seen each other in years.

Given the loose concept and quick filming, not everything gels. Many of the conversations reach to find groundbreaking messages in the guise of chit-chat, though often the themes are well-trodden [i.e. all politicians are evil, hipsters are taking over Brooklyn, everyone is hypocritical, etc.]. This might be the result of every episode being written and directed solely by C.K., without the much to time edit, like he has on  Louie. However, the loose feeling could also be argued to be a benefit, like listening to the White Album.

This show also hinges completely on the viewer. You must buy each episode [$5 for the debut, $2 for the second episode, and $3 for the rest]. It might seem like a lot, but this is the budget for the show. Everything the viewer gives goes into making the next episode, because it is only on louisck.net, without any network funding it.

Hopefully, the viewers continue. This show is very good and will without a doubt improve. Given the shooting schedule, C.K. can respond to feedback quickly, correcting what doesn’t seem to hit with audiences. The surprise show isn’t for those hoping for a lot of action, but if you don’t mind paying attention to the dialogue, you will be rewarded.


Rating: 3 out of 4 dolphins