True Blue Lou, and Other Species

Louis C.K. lets loose in "Oh My God."
Louis C.K. lets loose in "Oh My God." (KEVIN MAZUR;)
Posted: April 14, 2013

There are a couple of things you may want to put on your TV radar in the next couple of days.

First up is Louis C.K.: Oh My God (10 p.m. Saturday on HBO), a new standup special from the It comic.

If you're a fan of Louie, you need no encouragement. But even if you find the FX sitcom dour and discomfiting (guilty as charged), you'd be well advised to check out the 45-year-old funnyman in his natural setting (in this case, a theater-in-the-round venue in Phoenix).

On his show, Louie is always glum and moody, as if he were in a Chekhov play, not a TV comedy. (BTW, Louie is sitting out this cycle, not returning until spring 2014.)

But from the moment he takes the stage in Oh My God, he's jocular, engaged, and good-natured as he rolls through his own idea for a public service announcement, the worst part of his day, a critique of John Steinbeck, the secret of parenting, even the resignation of Richard M. Nixon.

He tends to drift into darkly cynical places, but you have to admire the unique leaps of imagination that take him there and the connections he finds.

One cautionary note: Louie works blue, and this special is full of obscenities, many of them scatological. But this is emphatically the way to take in Louis C.K.

Moving on, it has become common to compare hard-core action and space-opera films to the look and style of video games.

But Syfy's new series Defiance (9 p.m. Monday) really is a video game.

An online shooter version for consoles including PlayStation3, utilizing the premise and many of the same characters from the TV series, hit the market this month.

Defiance is set in a grim future in which humans uneasily live beside a handful of alien species including the Castithans, who look like the Malfoy family from Harry Potter; Indogenes, who look like the Changelings on Deep Space Nine; and some hulking Wookiee-like beasts.

Like many science fiction adventures, this is a thinly disguised western.

Kiwi actor Grant Bowler ( Liz & Dick) plays a wasteland scavenger who is pressed into service as the new peacekeeper in a settlement named Defiance, which grew atop the rubble of St. Louis.

Julie Benz ( Dexter) is mayor of this violent outpost. Graham Greene ( The Green Mile) plays the town's gruff Mr. Burns.

The special effects are quite good, the concept for the show well thought out. Where this falls down, like Falling Skies, Terra Nova, and other recent sci-fi series, is in the more formal, heavily populated scenes. Suddenly, you're very aware of the artifice (despite the evident fortune sunk into this project). It shatters the mood.

Let's hope the video game is more immersive.


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552, dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.

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