A grumpy guru leads path to so­bri­ety in ‘ Lou­d­er­milk’

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - This Weekend’s Events - BY ROBERT LLOYD LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES mpaine@ timessham­rock. com; gmazur@ timessham­rock. com; or 570348- 9127

Asamem­berin good stand­ing of the Ron Liv­ingston Ap­pre­ci­a­tion So­ci­ety, I am al­ways happy to see the star of “Of­fice Space” and “Band of Broth­ers” at work. He is usu­ally up to some­thing; it is not as if he needs my good thoughts to find­work.

Lately, he’s been in the Alia Shawkat sit­com “Search Party” and has a re­cur­ring role on “Dice.” Now he’s the star of “Lou­d­er­milk,” a 10- episode com­edy from AT& T Au­di­ence Net­work, avail­able through DirecTV and AT& T U- verse. Yes, a tele­phone com­pany makes TV; it’s a crazy­world!

Cre­ated by Peter Far­relly, who with his brother Bobby co- di­rected “Dumb and Dum­ber” and “There’s Some­thing About Mary,” and “Col­bert Re­port” writer Bobby Mort, it’s a gen­er­ally ap­peal­ing show, if not in ev­ery re­spect con­vinc­ing. In spite of the fact that Far­relly di­rected all the episodes, on the ev­i­dence of the six ( of 10) avail­able for re­view, the showfeels un­sure of what it­wants to do.

Lou­d­er­milk— he’s one of those char­ac­ters ev­ery­one calls by his last name, like Quincy or Columbo— is a for­mer mu­sic jour­nal­ist turned main­te­nance man and a for­mer drunk turned so­bri­ety meet­ing leader. Although he de­clares him­self done with writ­ing, Lou­d­er­milk is still full of opin­ions, about mu­sic and other things, and he shares them, iras­ci­bly, with­out hes­i­ta­tion or re­gard for the in­ter­est of the per­son he’s talk­ing with, or at.

Liv­ingston is 50 now, but there is a sense in which he has al­ways been 50— that as a young man, he was just wait­ing for the years to catch up him. ( At the same time, he’s a “young 50.”) As a lead­ing man, he’s a solid guy with some­thing just a lit­tle too askew, a lit­tle too in­ter­nally rum­pled, to be wholly suc­cess­ful as a lead­ing man; it’s also what’s kept him in­ter­est­ing. The priest­whose premises Liv­ingston uses for his ses­sions tells him, “You’re not warm and fuzzy. You’re hard and an­gu­lar and un­com­fort­able. You’re like an IKEA chair that leads so­bri­ety meet­ings.” That fits.

Lou­d­er­milk shares an apart­ment with his spon­sor and self- de­scribed only friend, Ben ( Will Sasso). Although I watched all six of the avail­able episodes, it oc­curs to me that I can’t say­what Ben does apart from shar­ing an apart­ment and oc­ca­sional mis­ad­ven­tures with Lou­d­er­milk, and ar­gue with him about the cof­fee maker. ( He’s a comic, maybe? He jokes a lot.) It’s a nice apart­ment too, and rents in Seat­tle, where the Van­cou­ver­pro­duced se­ries is set, aren’t cheap.

Into their life, and their apart­ment, through a bit of con­ve­nient black­mail comes Claire ( Anja Sav­cic), a trou­bled rich girl well down the High­way to Hell. Upon meet­ing, she’s a car­toon ver­sion of a teenage junkie, sullen and rac­coon- eyed and strip­ping for money, with an equally car­toon­ish mother who calls go­ing to re­hab “en­rolling in one of those heroin schools.” WhenClaire gets clean — with such easy alacrity it can hardly be called a spoiler ( ex­cept for the ease and alacrity)— her part im­proves as well. There’s al­ways the threat she’ll back­slide, but as such sto­ries go this is no “Days of Wine and Roses,” let alone “The Panic in­Nee­dle Park.”

Mean­while, across the hall, there’s a new neigh­bor, Al­li­son ( Laura Men­nell), who in­ter­ests Lou­d­er­milk and who seems in­ter­ested in him, although there will be many stones in this path, most of them are placed, you will not be sur­prised to learn, by Lou­d­er­milk him­self.

Lou­d­er­milk is por­trayed at times as a grudg­ing coun­selor, and at other times an overly in­volved one. And though I can’t speak from ex­pe­ri­ence, my guess is that some of the tac­tics he and oth­ers em­ploy here in the name of re­cov­ery cross tra­di­tional bound­aries, and, even when they get re­sults, can seem ill- con­sid­ered, li­able to back­fire and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous.

Although it feels con­trived at times, or will­fully out­ra­geous— this is Peter Far­relly of the Far­relly broth­ers, re­mem­ber — it can also be au­then­ti­cally charm­ing. Liv­ingston and Sasso have es­pe­cially good chem­istry, and Sav­cic fits in­well with them. Ir­ish Bal­ladeers, cover band Light­Weight and Cre­ative and Per­form­ing Arts Academy of NEPAaswell as fire hoop­ers and spin­ners. Guests can check out bal­loon artists, a jack- o’- lantern carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion, tarot card read­ings, an arts and crafts tent, a bon­fire sculp­ture by Brian Mur­ray of Recla­ma­tion In­dus­trial Fur­nish­ings and a large- scale art in­stal­la­tion that high­lights the stand­ing stone blast fur­naces.

Each year, the fes­ti­val ex­plores a dif­fer­ent cul­ture in its ed­u­ca­tional com­po­nent, Morin said, and this time vis­i­tors can head to the cul­tural tent to learn more about the Ir­ish andWelsh im­mi­grants and the cul­ture they brought to North­east Penn­syl­va­nia.

In seven years, the bon­fire has turned into a place­where arts, cul­ture, her­itage and his­tory meet, and Morin be­lieves it will con­tinue to growwith the com­mu­nity’s sup­port.

“We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to ( the fes­ti­val),” he said. “To get to do this fes­ti­val for the last seven years straight and al­ways have such a great re­sponse from the com­mu­nity ... it’s just a great, fun night.”

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