Some thoughts on Horace and Pete

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In late January, Louis C.K. “pulled a Beyoncé” and dropped the first episode of his web series Horace and Pete. He had done zero promotion for this project; the first that fans heard of it was when members of his mailing list (like me) received an email saying that the first episode was available. No one had any idea that Louis C.K. was even working on a web series; it just magically appeared out of nowhere. The web series was being created as they went along – every Saturday I’d receive an often hilarious email from Louis C.K. letting me know that a new episode had been posted. I looked forward to getting these emails every week, as there was no clear indication of how long this web series was going to run. As quickly as it magically appeared, it could just as quickly disappear. I had fallen behind on actually watching the episodes, but when it was announced that the series was done after its 10th episode (which dropped this weekend) I found some time this weekend to power through the 6 remaining episodes that I had.

Horace and Pete is focused on the bar of the same name and the family that owns said bar. Horace and Pete has been operating in Brooklyn for over 100 years and is always run by a Horace and a Pete (the name is handed down in the family). The bar is currently run by brothers Horace VIII (Louis C.K.) and Pete (Steve Buscemi) who took over the bar after the death of their father; the bartender is their Uncle Pete (Alan Alda), who is a foul-mouthed straight shooter that has no worries about being political correct. Their sister Sylvia (Edie Falco) wants to shut the bar down and sell the property, though as a woman she has been given no part of the family business. The bar survives thanks to its regulars (played by Jessica Lange, Kurt Metger, Steven Wright, Nick DiPaolo, and Tom Noonan), who often get in spirited discussions about issues of politics, philosophy and religion. Horace and Pete is directed and written by Louis C.K. and has the feel of a stage play.

Overall, I really enjoyed Horace and Pete. I always appreciate when an artist is willing to take chances and has their own unique artistic vision and there is no doubt that Horace and Pete is a singular labor of love from Louis C.K. Some episodes work a lot better than others – the deliberate pacing of the show can occasionally make it feel very slow – but even when Horace and Pete isn’t at its peak, I was still invested in seeing where the story was going. And it was worth the moments that dragged for the moments of sheer genius; there is no doubt that Horace and Pete is a master class in acting. Tremendous performances are everywhere, from the regular cast to people like Laurie Metcalf who just drops by for one episode to give a mesmerizing performance that you can’t look away from. Louis C.K. has submitted Horace and Pete for Emmy consideration and it would truly be a shame if some of these amazing performances were not recognized. Alan Alda play completely against type here and Steve Buscemi handles all the difficult beats that he’s asked to play with nuance.

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If you haven’t watched Louis C.K.’s FX show Louie, it’s important to warn you that Horace and Pete is not your run of the mill comedy. There are very few moments that will make you actually laugh out loud. A lot of the comedy in Horace and Pete comes from the absurd and finding humor in tragedy. The people of Horace and Pete have not lived very happy lives and some are struggling with illness. They also aren’t very nice people – they have their moments, but they can be casually cruel to one another. The finale, in particular, was beautifully brutal; the fact that you are so invested in these characters despite their many flaws is a testament to what Louis C.K. and company have created. It’s not always an easy watch, but Horace and Pete is worth going on the emotional roller-coaster with these characters.

The entire series is available for purchase on Louis C.K.’s website. Because Louis C.K. was using the purchase of the previous week’s episode to help finance the production of the next episode, the entire series will cost about $30. By distributing the web series himself, he had complete artistic control over the endeavor, but Louis C.K. also went into a lot of debt to see the project through. I respect his commitment to his artistic vision and while I normally wouldn’t pay to watch something like this I have so much respect and trust for Louis C.K. that I was willing to pony up the cast to go along with him in this journey.

Horace and Pete is probably not for everyone (the language is definitely NSFW or for children), but overall it really worked for me. A lot of thought went into crafting these characters and the familial relationships are fascinating (if not painful) to watch unfold. Louis C.K. is always doing something a little different and Horace and Pete is no exception. If you are primarily familiar with him from his stand-up, it might take you a little while to adjust to the tone of Horace and Pete; those who are fans of Louis will adapt to the style much more quickly. Horace and Pete mines some difficult territory and some of it is just uncomfortable to watch, but ultimately it is worth going along for the ride.

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Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Time on My Hands edition

Because I had such a slow weekend last weekend, I had a lot of free time to surf the web and collect news stories the few hours that I wasn’t watching House of Cards or sleeping. My boring weekend is your gain – this week’s edition of the pop culture roundup is jam packed with fun stuff. But don’t get too used to this – I think my next completely free weekend is sometime in October.

  • Jon Stewart is taking a three month hiatus from The Daily Show.  John Oliver will fill in as host.
  • Speaking of The Daily Show, this recent segment on maple syrup slayed me. I was literally laughing out loud. Well done.

 

  • Rest in Peace, Bonnie Franklin. The actress, best known from One Day at a Time, passed away at the age of 69.
  • I don’t watch the show Switched at Birth, but this is very cool – Monday night’s episode was done entirely in sign language.
  • Happy birthday to The Big Lebowski, which turns 15 years old today! The Dude continues to abide.
  • This doesn’t quite reach the beauty of the death star construction request, but there is an active petition request to the Obama Administration to change the national anthem to R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix).” I’m not saying it is a good idea, but that would be way more fun way to kick off sporting events (added bonus – no high notes):

What’s more American than “it’s the freaking weekend, I’m about to have me some fun?”

  • My red hot disdain of Kristen Stewart has been duly noted on the blog, but she doesn’t have a monopoly on my fury. In fact, I might even despise Taylor Swift more. Her latest crime? Implying that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are going to hell because of a joke they told about Swift at the Golden Globes.
  • While we’re on the subject of people who I dislike, Halle Berry is confirmed to appear in the new X-men movie.
  • The Hold Steady is recording a song for the third season of Game of Thrones, lyrics by George R.R. Martin.
  • A trailer for the new season of Mad Men has been released. Can’t wait!

 

  • A new trailer for Iron Man 3 was released yesterday:

 

  • Fox has renewed The Following, New Girl, Raising Hope and The Mindy Project.
  • Joan Rivers has launched a new webseries where she interviews celebrities in bed.
  • Ben McKenzie has been cast in a pilot at CBS, which means that the renewal of Southland is not a sure thing.
  • I still don’t understand what is going on with Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un.
  • Ha! This timely House of Cards parody, House of Cardinals, gets the tone just right.

 

  • Color me intrigued – Christian Bale is rumored to be reprising his role as Batman in the upcoming Justice League movie.
  • It pains me to say this, but the new episodes of Community this season haven’t been good. However, I am intrigued by the idea of doing an all-puppet episode.
  • Tyler Kitsch has resurfaced. He’ll appear in the HBO movie The Normal Heart.
  • Watch Mark Wahlberg and Diddy play a drinking game on Ellen:

 

  • Wahlberg hasn’t closed the door on a reunion with the Funky Bunch. This is a terrible idea, but I totally hope this happens.
  • I’m super excited to possibly be going to see Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake play Yankee Stadium this summer. One person I can guarantee won’t be there is Kanye West.
  • JT will be hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend and will be on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon every night next week. I can only assume “The History of Rap, Part 4” is in the works.
  • How bad have things gotten for NBC? A local affiliate has opted to air Matlock instead of the network’s Thursday night’s lineup.
  • This sounds interesting – Speilberg is developing a miniseries about Napoleon that was written by Stanley Kubrik.
  • Albany peeps – local musician Sean Rowe made his national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Monday night. Good for him!

 

  • In pilot news, Naveen Andrews (Sayid, Lost) has landed a role in an ABC drama.
  • Presented without comment – Gary Busey discussing hobbits:

 

  • Feeling lucky? A new website will randomly select a Nicholas Cage movie for you to watch (Netflix streaming account required)
  • The George Lucas museum is coming to San Francisco.
  • This is disappointing – Sam Mendes will not return to direct the next James Bond film.
  • Carrie Fisher will return as Princess Leia in the new Star Wars movie.
  • This may be the greatest interview of all time. I already like Mila Kunis beforehand, but this sealed the deal. Gotta support a fellow Blue Moon fan.

 

  • Neat-O. A portrait of Stephen Colbert, made up of all the words uttered on The Colbert report:

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  • Jason Bateman will team up with Tina Fey in This Is Where I Leave You. The funny duo will play siblings.
  • 90210 is ending its run at the end of this season. I honestly didn’t even know this show was still on.
  • Alexis Bledel (Rory, The Gilmore Girls) is returning to TV is a starring role in a comedy pilot for Fox.
  • Jon Hamm voiced a talking toilet on this week’s Bob’s Burgers and it was glorious:

 

  • Tom Hardy will appear on Discovery Channel’s new show, Driven to Extremes.
  • This mash up of “Call Me Maybe” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole” is actually pretty catchy:

 

  • Just because it is awesome, the opening credits of the Dutch version of Golden Girls:

You can check out versions from other countries here.

  • If you ever dreamed of owning a closet like Cher’s in Clueless, you are in luck. We have the technology.
  • Happy news – both Jimmy Smits and Donal Logue will return next season on Sons of Anarchy.
  • And finally……A Star Wars/School House Rock mash-up:

 

See a story that you think should be included in these bi-weekly roundups? Want to see your name in the blog? Want to do my job for me? Feel free to send any suggestions my way via the blog’s Facebook page, the blog’s twitter account (@AsHeathersworld) or in the comments section of this post. I post random pop culture stories on Facebook, so don’t forget to like the page so you don’t miss anything. Thanks to avid blog reader and faux-cousin Chris for the suggestion!

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Working Late Edition

Blerg. I’m stuck at work until at least 8:30 tonight, which means I’m putting in a solid 12+ hours at the office today. I like my job and all, but that is a long freaking day. This will also throw off my delicately calibrated television viewing schedule. While most normal adults are watching the news and having dinner with their families, I use that time to catch up on The Daily Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and whatever 10 pm shows I didn’t finish the night before. At least I’m getting some comp time.

So while I settle in for the long haul, enjoy your bi-weekly roundup of pop culture nuggets:

  • People magazine announced their Sexiest Man Alive – Channing Tatum. With Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street (not to mention that body), I can’t say that I blame them. But I thought this might be Ryan Gosling’s year.
  • Liza Minnelli will guest star on Smash. This had better not interfere with her ability to reprise her role as Lucille 2 on Arrested Development.
  • Conan has been doing a great bit where he imagines what the new Star Wars film would look like in the hands of different directors.

Woody Allen

Kevin Smith

Michael Moore

  • If you spend any time around tweens, you probably already knew this – Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez have apparently called it quits.
  • A Drive/Mario Kart mashup
  • Music group INXS finally gets around to announcing that they are done touring, only 15 years after lead singer Michael Hutchence’s suicide.
  • Louis C.K.’s next comedy special will air on HBO (but will also be available for download on his website).
  • ABC has given Nashville a full season pick up. I still haven’t had the chance to watch the show; perhaps over Thanksgiving.
  • Showtime is airing a ten part documentary series, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States. I can only imagine what that’s about.
  • Check it out – Joe Biden was on Carmen Sandiego in 1993
  • Vulture examines what James Bond villain plots would work and which would not with the help of an economist (If they told me I could have done stuff like this with my economics degree, I might pursued that instead.)
  • Mumford and Sons + Idris Elba = Happy Heather
  • Bret McKenzie will once again write the songs for the new Muppets film. Double Yay!
  • The Dr. Who Christmas Special will debut in the U.S. on December 25th (fitting) at 9 pn (ET) on BBC America.
  • The New York Times critic was not a fan of Guy Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant
  • And finally, I saw this trailer for the new Jackie Robinson movie 42 over the weekend and I practically squealed. I seriously cannot wait for this movie.