Louie, Season 4: TV review

After a long break between seasons, Louis C.K. returns to form

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Louis C.K. in Louie

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Louis C.K. in Louie

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Charles Grodin as Dr. Bigelow in Louie

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Jerry Seinfeld as Himself in Louie

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Yvonne Strahovski as Blake in Louie

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Louis C.K. in Louie

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Louis C.K. as Louie and Yvonne Strahovski as Blake in Louie

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Louis C.K. in Louie

Premieres Monday, May 5 at 9pm on FX.

When Louis C.K. announced that he would be taking a year-long break, fans of the show were understandably upset. But it's not surprising that C.K.—who serves as something of a one-man-band on Louie as director, writer, editor and star—may have wanted a bit of a break. In a television landscape that gets cluttered more every day with new networks developing original programming, it's telling that in the year it was gone, nothing filled the hole that Louie had left. A pecullar and fantastic mix of auteur filmmaking and masturbation jokes, there really is nothing else like this on TV.

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As always, Louie episodes operate mostly as narrative vignettes as we follow the titular character through awkward, painful and sometimes fantastical experiences. The opening episodes of season four feature memorable guest appearances from Charles Grodin, Jerry Seinfeld and Yvonne Strahovski (who's used far better here than in her larger role in 24: Live Another Day).

It's with the third episode of the season, "So Did the Fat Lady," that the new season of Louie has its first great moment. Featuring a beautiful performance by Go On's Sarah Baker as a funny, adorable but chubby hostess at the comedy club where Louie performs, this intallment forces the protagonist to face his problems with women's weight in a confrontation that is relentless, poignant and still funny. Additionally, Louie interactions with his daughters continue to be a major high point of the show, with young Ursual Parker giving another memorable performance as the more troublesome of the two.

Perhaps a response to its extended absence, FX is airing episodes of Louie two at a time this season. While the extra helpings are welcome, the match-ups aren't always ideal. "Model", in which Louie has a seemingly fantastical encounter with the gorgeous Strahovski, would have made an interesting pairing with "So Did the Fat Lady," while next Monday's hour concludes with part one of a multi-part series of episodes titled simply "Elevator."

Well worth the wait, the new season of Louie finds the multi-talented performer returning to form with thoughtful and funny television that's ambition is unmatched by any other sitcom.

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