Louis C.K. Drops A New Show Unannounced: ‘Horace and Pete’ Review

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Ken Tucker
·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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Without any prior announcement, Louis C.K. posted the first episode of a new show, Horace and Pete, on his website on Saturday. The dramatic comedy, clocking in at a little over an hour, is set in an old bar, Horace and Pete’s. C.K. plays Horace; Steve Buscemi is Pete. The dingy bar is packed with stars playing low-down, screwed-up, and screwed-over people, including Jessica Lange, Alan Alda, SNL’s Aidy Bryant, Edie Falco, and Steven Wright.

The show takes place almost entirely on the set of the bar, a 100-year-old, dingy establishment overseen by Horace and Pete along with Alan Alda as Uncle Pete, an exceedingly grumpy old guy given to racist, sexist, generally offensive sentiments. There is an extent to which this show is reminiscent of the Norman Lear era of sitcoms, most obviously All in the Family (and more site-specific, its spin-off, Archie Bunker’s Place—set, you’ll recall, in a bar). The show also has real roots in Duffy’s Tavern, a popular 1940s radio show that shifted to TV in the 1950s.

There’s a lot of engrossing conversation here. (There is no laugh-track or studio audience.) The show was taped recently enough that there are comments about Donald Trump’s opting out of the Iowa debate. There is an intense family squabble over the provenance of the bar instigated by Falco’s Sylvia, Horace’s sister. There’s a lot of speechifying, some of it is moving and fascinating, some of it sounding like penny-ante Eugene O’Neill. It’s also completely fascinating, and full of really wonderful performances.

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Bypassing FX, the network that airs Louie, C.K. is releasing “episode one” (who knows how many more will follow?) on his own website, in the same manner in which he’s sold some of his stand-up shows. Horace and Pete costs $5.

Horace and Pete is available now on louisck.net.