Louie Shows Exactly How to Put a Show on Hiatus, NBC Could Take Lessons
Louie and Community, in my opinion, are two of the best shows on TV right now. While wildly different, both are exceptionally smart, laugh-out-loud funny television programs that deserve all the critical acclaim they get. Both, as of today, are going on hiatus. Here’s why it’s good news for one show, which not only features but really captures the definitive stand-up comic of his generation, and bad news for the other, whose network increasingly looks to be run pretty much entirely by saboteurs dedicated to bringing the place down from the inside.
Let’s not mince words here. While Louie taking a break is great news in the long term for the show, I’m not happy about it by any stretch. When I saw the news earlier today, my first reaction was what I like to think is a pretty reasonable one: I dropped to the floor kicking and screaming like a petulant child whose toys have been taken away. To my lasting chagrin, and the irritation of not a few colleagues in my office, this went on for a period of time that is best described as “disgraceful.”
After, though, I took a look at what was actually happening. Louis C.K., the driving creative force behind the show, needed a break. He had accomplished what he set out to do in the first three seasons, which is unsurprising. Frankly, considering he’s producing the most Sturm und Drang packed American sitcom of pretty much ever, we’d be shocked to learn that he had more than a season or two of material developed when the show began. It’s kind of amazing the show has gone three critically acclaimed seasons without a sign of slowing down. Keeping in mind that during those three seasons, he wrote, produced, edited, and starred in just about every episode of the show, on top of a respectable tour schedule, yeah, a break is deserved. Hell, we’re tired just from typing that sentence.
So instead of pumping out a sub-par fourth season right away, he (NBC execs, please start taking notes here) worked with his network to find a schedule that suited everyone’s best interests – Louie’s, the show’s, the network’s, and fans’. Together, they put the show on hold until it could be done right. While we mourn the loss of a season of Louie, these are all convincing signs that when it does return, it will be as the show we’ve come to love, even if we do occasionally cringe and weep openly at it. Taken alongside the other excellent programs FX is producing (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy, etc.) it’s enough to make one think that when it comes to finding ways to make shows work, everyone in the room at the network is behaving like an adult who can do their job.
Which brings us to the matter of NBC.
Community was set to make its return to airwaves October 19th. If you didn’t realize that, you’re not the only one. NBC hasn’t publicized the show’s return, which will mark its first (albeit shortened) season without creator and showrunner Dan Harmon on board. In a conversation we can only assume went something like “Hey, did you tell anyone that there’s going to be new episodes of Community in, like, a couple weeks?” “No I thought you did!” NBC has pushed the premiere back to, uh, some other time? Definitely another time. You know. Maybe. We’ll figure it out.
Is there a plan for Community? We doubt it. The network has never seemed to know what it was doing with this show, and this move leaves its future very much up in the air. It also leaves NBC looking like a network that doesn’t know how to so much as plan for a season premiere. While that’s bad for Community, it’s worse for the network in the long-term. Keeping creators guessing about the fate of their shows is not how you attract talent, and keeping fans in suspense is no way to breed loyalty.
Oh, and while we’re on the topic, Whitney is also on hiatus, answering the question “If a show is on hiatus and no one notices or gives a damn, is it still on hiatus?” Apparently, yes.