For the second day in a row, the return of a critically-adored comedy has been delayed. But where NBC decided to shelve "Community" for now, Louis C.K. was the man who decided that "Louie" won't be returning until the spring of 2014, rather than the summer 2013 schedule we all assumed.
C.K. has always made "Louie" his own way. He takes a much smaller production budget than an average cable scripted half-hour, and in exchange, FX mostly leaves him alone to make the exact show he wants to make. And he's decided that, in order to keep making exactly what he wants, he needs some extra time to do it.
In a conference call with reporters, C.K. explained that "The last three seasons have been this surge of fun and work and stories and it's been great, but I want the show to keep getting better... That's my goal, and I don't want it to be making the donuts, I want it to be something that comes from somewhere important and stays funny. It's a luxury I asked for ... season four is my job right now, but I'm going to take a whole lot of time to turn it in."
I'm not happy about having to wait close to an extra year for one of the best shows on television, but at the same time, I understand where C.K. is coming from regarding not wanting it to become a routine. "Louie" is an unpredictable, deeply personal show, and there's always the danger that C.K. could start to feel burned out, begin leaning on formula, and let the quality sink.
The length of the hiatus would put "Louie" in good company. Some of the best TV series ever have had similar between-season gaps, though it's only sometimes been at the behest of the creator. As "The Sopranos" aged, David Chase asked for lengthy breaks between seasons, for instance, and John Cleese waited three and a half years between seasons of "Fawlty Towers" because he didn't want to continue until the stories were ready. And, of course, HBO basically lets Larry David take as much time off as he feels like in between seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." But "Mad Men" was more recently off the air for 17 months in part because of a prolonged contract renegotiation, and HBO was in no rush to get the fourth season of "The Wire" on the air (it debuted more than 20 months after the third one ended).