Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Really, each episode of Louie, Louis CK's intensely personal FX show, is more like an essay: a set of anecdotes, vignettes, stand-up routines andouttakes that add up to a reflection on what it means to be human. Death, war, divorce, masturbation, parenting, unrequited love no subject was beyond the reach or ambition of this stunning series that revolves around a character named Louie who, like the show's director, star, writer and editor, is a comedian and divorced single dad. Shot on a low budget, with Louis in charge of everything from scripting to buying equipment, Louie is something the standard TV production system makes nigh impossible: artisanal TV, a small-batch distillation of a single creator's mordant, achingly funny vision. Unlike any show current or past, Louie can swing in a scene from raunchy hilarity to holy-crap wisdom because what Louis CK ultimately is after is not laughs or tears but intensity. "To me the goal of comedy is to just laugh, which is a really high hearted thing, visceral connection and reaction," Louis CK told me earlier this year. "And any time I take laughs away on the show I have to replace it with something at least that high." By that measure, and all others, Louie is raising and reaching the artistic bar each and every week.