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The Louie Show

Minnesota-born comedian Louie Anderson starred in a CBS sitcom in 1996 that was set in Duluth. It didn’t last long. Six episodes were produced; five were aired. None of the episodes were shot in Duluth, but the opening theme featured Louie in a sweatshirt with “Duluth” across the chest and some transition footage was shot in Duluth. Obviously it is not available on DVD or streaming on Netflix, but thanks to old VHS copies floating around town we’ve been able to pull together excerpts from two episodes (see below).

Bryan Cranston, the actor famous for his roles in Breaking Bad and Malcom in the Middle, along with a number of hit movies, played a character in the show. Kimmy Robertson of Twin Peaks fame also had a role, as did Paul Feig, who created Freaks and Geeks and directed episodes of The Office, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Mad Men.

In The Louie Show, Louie Anderson played Louie Lundgren, a psychotherapist who deals with the problems of his friends and family. Wikipedia has a page for the show now that includes synopsis of the plots gleaned from TV Guide.

Knock yourself out:

Episode 1: “Take Two Donuts and Call Me in the Morning”
Directed by Asaad Kelada
Written by Matt Goldman and Louie Anderson
Air date: Jan. 31, 1996
A roof repair leads Louie to believe he’ll need roommate to help defer costs, and his first prospect is a breathy Californian. Meanwhile, he encounters a hostile patient at work.

Episode 2: “Louie Gets Suspended”
Directed by Asaad Kelada
Written by Don Foster
Air date: Feb. 7, 1996
Louie is late for his first meeting with a new supervisor, and she suspends him for a week.

Episode 3: “Under The Rug”
Air date: Feb. 14, 1996
On Louie’s advice, Eddie removes his toupee, and feels so liberated he decides to reveal something else about himself: his love of cross-dressing.

Episode 4: “Scratcher”
Directed by Asaad Kelada
Written by Matt Goldman
Air date: Feb. 21, 1996
After counseling a compulsive gambler, Louie finds the man’s Lotto ticket — worth $5,000 — in the trash.

Episode 5: “Louie’s Little Trip”
Directed by Joanne Gleason
Written by Don Foster and Jhoni Marchinko
Air date: March 6, 1996
Louie goes to the hospital, but a tiff between Curt and Gretchen sends him, zonked on morphine, back out in search of them.

Episode 6: “A Brush with Bob”
Air date: Unaired
One of Louie’s patients — an admitted embezzler — asks Gretchen for a date, and Louie tries his best to discourage it.

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12 Comment(s)

  1. If I remember right, after all the fuss was made about this show being set in Duluth, it didn’t air for at least a couple episodes in Duluth because of the boys high school state hockey tournament.

    Beverly | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  2. The important thing to remember is that although the show was set in Duluth, it was filmed in Hollywood, so the only “Duluthiness” on display was whatever the writers thought life in Duluth must be like. That, plus the exterior shots that featured in the open and the transitions between scenes and locations (think exteriors of Monk’s cafe or Jerry’s apartment building on Seinfeld--same deal). Those exteriors were shot by Lance Parthe of Parthe Productions, now Parthe Inc., located in Superior. Knowing Lance, he probably has an old VHS of the shows lying around somewhere that he taped when the shows were broadcast. In fact, I’d bet on it.

    Dave P | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  3. The important thing to remember is that although the show was set in Duluth, it was filmed in Hollywood, so the only “Duluthiness” on display was whatever the writers thought life in Duluth must be like.

    I can’t think of any sitcoms that were ever shot on location (except for a few that were set in NYC, like 30 Rock), so this is completely standard. On Seinfeld, even the establishing shot of his apartment was shot in Los Angeles. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Once again, it’s shot in L.A.

    Barrett Chase | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  4. I taped all of the episodes back when it aired and I believe that I still have the tape. I can dig it up if someone is willing to do the transfer. Bonus -- it will have all the local commercials as well.

    waferdog | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  5. Waferdog, I will take you up on that.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  6. I’m aware of your point, Barrett, but I’m not sure everyone is. Minneapolis has a statue where Mary Tyler Moore threw her beret on Nicollet Avenue that perpetuates the myth this was a Minnesota-based production (when I was growing up in the Twin Cities, I can’t count how many visitors wondered if we’d ever seen Mary). But there have been occasional — albeit rare — exceptions. A lot of “Corner Gas” (a popular Canadian sitcom) was in fact shot in the dinky town in Saskatchewan where the exteriors were filmed, although a number of interiors were shot elsewhere in a studio. I predict that with the advent of more compact cameras and the way audiences have embraced shaky-cam and low-bar reality-TV production values, it’s only a matter of time before somebody produces a hit TV sit-com that’s not studio-based. It’s already happening all over the internet.

    Dave P | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  7. Good point, Dave P. Not to make the thread confusing, but I think Louis CK’s show, Louie is less studio-based and shot mostly on location, albeit around NYC. I could maybe see that happening somewhere else … not in a town as small as Duluth but in larger city. But I think the real question would be why someone would make such a show. Why use real locations when sets are far cheaper and easier, with proximity to an overabundance of the talent you will need to create the show?

    Barrett Chase | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  8. Barrett, I think you’re presumption that “sets are far cheaper and easier” applies to the past/present paradigm, and that’s my point: the new generation of talent is not bound by convention: shooting in someone’s living room, kitchen, coffeehouse, neighborhood, etc. is much cheaper than renting studio space, building sets, rigging elaborate lighting and hiring large production crews — plus, thanks to reality TV and the internet, audiences are no longer demanding any of that (thank you “Cops!”). Tons of compelling, homemade, low-production-value stuff is exploding all across Youtube, etc. and eventually someone will have the writing/acting/production talent to cobble together a sitcom that has mass appeal, perhaps because it doesn’t look and feel like what is traditional — and the networks will fight like wolves to claim it as their own and slap their logo on it precisely because it was so cheap to produce. It happened with independent film (“Blair Witch”), it happened with publishing (“Fifty Shades of Grey”); TV is next.

    Dave P | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  9. Didn’t Lena Dunham have her first ‘series’ as YouTube posts which were filmed locally, e.g. in her friends’ homes etc. I believe her film “Tiny Furniture” was filmed in her mother’s house, with various relatives playing themselves.

    emmadogs | Nov 8, 2013 | New Comment
  10. Can anyone recommend a way to convert VHS to DVD? This post makes me nostalgic and I found a VHS tape labeled “Louie show” in my old tape collection. I recall taping the run of the show during it’s short run.

    Shane | Nov 17, 2013 | New Comment
  11. All you need is an adapter cable. It costs about $70.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 17, 2013 | New Comment
  12. The post above has been updated to include videos with scenes from episodes 2, 3 and 4.

    The episode 2 segment opens with an establishing show of the Missabe Building, where Louie’s fictitious office is located. At the 1:45 mark, Sandy is “stuck 45 minutes from Duluth waiting for a connecting flight.” There’s another Missabe Building shot at 3:53, and right after that you can see a framed postcard image of the Aerial Lift Bridge on Louie’s office wall. The segment ends with a KDLH-TV news teaser featuring Liz Brummond and a promo for an interview with Louie Anderson.

    The only Duluth clips in episode 3, other than Louie’s Duluth sweatshirt in the opening montage, are (at 1:37) a snowy First Street scene outside the Missabe Building, and (at the end of the video) a nighttime shot of the house at 1601 E. Fifth St., Louie’s fictitious home.

    The video from episode 4 opens with another shot of the Missabe Building. At 1:46 is Washburn Hall on the old Duluth Normal School campus. At 3:43 is “Louie’s house” in the dark again, and then “Louie’s house” in daylight is at 5:51.

    The tape I got from Waferdog only included these three episodes, so if anyone has episodes 1 and 5 please let me know. Perhaps someday even the mysterious lost sixth episode will emerge.

    Paul Lundgren | Dec 11, 2013 | New Comment

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