On Twitter: @JamesEppler
The best comedy on TV is going away until May of 2014. "Louie" just ended its third season on FX, and the network announced it's granting Louie C.K.'s request for a longer break between seasons.
Fans will be sad, but they shouldn't despair too much.
We have to remember that Louie writes, directs, edits, and stars in this terrific series. That's a lot of work, and I'm all for waiting a little longer for episodes if it helps maintain quality.
Some of the best shows on TV have taken long hiatuses between seasons. Larry David is notorious for doing this on his improvised HBO series, "Curb Your Enthusiasm." We've had to wait up to two years between seasons of that show - and more than once.
"The Sopranos" also took long breaks. So did "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," although the latter two were partly because of problems with AMC delaying things.
Still, it's been proven that if you give show runners time to be creative instead of milking them for more episodes right now,
you see better work.
A prime example of a show being killed by a big episode order is "Rescue Me" on FX. Around the time the writers strike happened a few years ago, FX signed "Rescue Me" on for 22 episodes for its next season, upping it from the usual 12-13. The result was a clever, emotionally taught show reduced to filler as writers Denis Leary and Peter Tolan obviously pushed themselves too hard. Episodes were less crucial, and plot lines and devices started repeating themselves.
It never recovered.
But all of these shows I mentioned are on cable with networks that can be more flexible with their schedules. The big networks - FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC - need to fill long seasons.
I would argue that the networks need to take all of their shows down to half-seasons - one slate for fall, one for spring, one for summer. We don't need 24 episodes of "Modern Family" at once, as much as I enjoy that show. And if shows were taken down to 13 episodes, we'll get fewer reruns breaking up the season.
NBC is already doing this with some of its half-hour comedies like "30 Rock" and "Community." That's smart thinking for a network that hasn't done much of that in the last decade.
So yes, 2013 will suck without the quirky brilliance that is "Louie." But I'll take a two-year wait for one episode of "Louie" over an episode of "Anger Management" right now.