Over the weekend FX launched an ingenious teaser for the upcoming season of Louie, proving once again that they are the best when it comes to artful, intriguing teasers for their shows.
The Louie teaser begins with a stark, black-and-white shot of the Statue of Liberty, and slowly pans to reveal Louis C.K.'s silhouette. "Brother Louie," the song probably best known now as Louie's theme song, starts to play as the words "Louie's Back" appears. Get it? Louie is back, and you're also looking at Louie's back.
The promo captures the spirit of Louie without actually showing us any of the show at all. With a show like this one, which already has a fervent fan base, a teaser like this gets audiences in the headspace to enjoy the show. When FX rolls out promos like these for an untested product, they both signify that the show being advertised will be in line with the best of FX's brand and establish a tone.
Back in October The Wire spoke to Stephanie Gibbons, FX's president of marketing and on-air promotions about the similarly great promos for American Horror Story: Coven. You remember the ones with the snakes slithering through mouths and girls levitating against walls. Gibbons said that they "try to create iconic moments that imprint people with themes."
That philosophy is quite evident looking at the promos for FX's upcoming Fargo. The teasers for the new take on the world the Coen brothers established back in 1996, establish the frozen, crime-ridden world of the series. In one, the nose of a corpse peeks out of a pile of snow as muzak plays and a truck speeds by, for instance. A personal favorite, however, is the one called "steak," in which Billy Bob Thornton's hit man character is handed a bloody piece of meat as a tinny instrumental version of Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" plays. He ditches the restaurant's knife for his own to grotesquely hack into the steak.
And while Fargo is a show the network is trying to get off the ground, they also have produced great atmospheric promos for the shows they have already established. The Justified promos use crows as their thematic centerpieces.
A promo for The Americans pans across a closet to reveal the series Russian spies listening in on a conversation.
That's not to say that all of FX's promos are great. We can't bring ourselves to get behind the lame jokes in the teasers for George Lopez's Saint George, but that show belongs to the network's side industry of sitcoms like Anger Management that get an initial 10 episode order that could become a 90 episode order if successful.
FX has proven itself an original network that will, like in the case of Louie, hand over creative control to creative talent. It has built up a stable of dramas that are giving cable stalwart HBO a run for its money in terms of quality. But where it really dominates its fellow cable networks is the promo game.