FX's "Louie" wrapped its fourth season Monday night while "Fargo" comes to an end Tuesday. A pair of quick reviews....
Fargo, FX, Tuesday, 10 p.m.
"Fargo" has been something of a sensation for FX -- loving critical response, some buzz and decent if not outrageous good fortune in the Nielsen department. Billy Bob Thornton will almost certainly get -- or at the very least deserves -- a best supporting Emmy nod next month for hitman Lorne Malvo, and I'd be surprised if Allison Tolman doesn't get something for her Molly Solverson, the deputy with heart and brains. But I've been ambivalent about the series and its brutal violence laced with (metaphorically speaking) cherry pie. "Fargo" is compulsively watchable, but even when compelled to watch, what we're left with on occasion is a cartoonish monster in the form of Malvo, who miraculously escapes detection time and again despite the fact that he commits his many crimes in a panopticon world where the video cameras occasionally work and at other times are inexplicably absent (the elevator). But Thornton captured the banality of evil effortlessly, and tended to be a constant reminder that when good people choose to do nothing, bad people flourish. Too much to give away here to suggest that his reign of terror can't go on forever? Fans will love tonight's closer, but I remain lukewarm to "Fargo's" bad habits -- notably story elements which are not ruthlessly vetted by the production team and which have rendered the series somewhat less than believable at times, and on a few occasions farcical. And really, what is the point of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele here? Two brilliant comics wasted on a tragedy that doesn't quite know how to use them. Grade: B -
"Louie," FX, Monday, 10 p.m. "Louie" and Louis C.K. went on hiatus for a year and eight months to get things straight between the third and just concluded fourth season, with the result finally all coming to an end (and in some ways together) last night. The basic theme of this season: the life and loves (most of them luckless) of Louie. Last night's wrap completed the "Pamela" storyline starring Pamela Adlon (who was excellent) and which began early June, to some controversy. After babysitting his kids as a last-minute favor, he returns home and promptly forced himself on her. The scene was uncomfortable and was meant to be -- his body attempting to engulf her's and she repeatedly rejecting his advances. "No" means no but for some season, in that instant, he didn't seem to hear the "nos" until she was nearly out the door. It was all weirdly creepy. Adlon, a prominent voice actress, was a standout in the role. She brought light and life and color into an otherwise lightless, lifeless, colorless space, which is Louie's. They became lovers and in the process she drew out a facet of the man that we knew existed before but hadn't been so annoyed by until she reminded us why it was so damned annoying: His fundamentally arrested adolescent neediness. At least Louie finally emotionally grew this season, which was maybe the whole idea. "Louie" is often about isolation -- emotional isolation in a roiling sea of isolation -- but Pamela was to become, whether she wanted to or not, the life preserver to the willfully drowning schlub. She negated his misery and aloneness. "What's the suicide rate for comedians," she wondered only half facetiously. And yet somehow she began the process of turning him into a fully functioning adult human being. It was all very -- what's the word almost never associated with "Louie?" -- gratifying. (But you also suspect it won't last. Good suspicion.) Grade: B+