- Vox Populi » Judge finds that Epicurean worker has right to seek compensation in civil case on Epicurean faces multiple lawsuits from employees
- Nico Dodd on Critical Voices: Snoop Lion, Reincarnated
- Senior on Biracial student snubbed by Georgetown cultural society
- Asma on GenderFunk a crass caricature of a complex trans identity
- Brad M. Seraphin on Evading etymology eschews the excitement of English
Photos from Flickr
Idiot Box: The truth about the Bluths
This past weekend, Christmas came early for television fans. No, I don’t mean that networks suddenly decided to air March of the Wooden Soldiers and re-run the 2004 classic Nick and Jessica’s Family Christmas. This was, quite possibly, even better.
At the New Yorker Festival, the cast and creators of Fox’s much-revered but ill-fated Arrested Development reunited for a panel discussion and announced plans for a short series to precede the show’s upcoming feature film. If you listened closely, you could hear hundreds of victorious fist pumps and shouts of “Steve Holt!”
Ever since its final episode aired in 2006, fans have been bemoaning Arrested Development’s cancellation as one of the truest signs of the tastelessness of American popular culture. Meanwhile, television critics still complain that while AD was cancelled, somehow the other crap that’s out there—like AD’s former Sunday night neighbor Desperate Housewives—is still on the air.
The sad reality is that these reviewers aren’t looking at television’s past with a rose-colored transmission—AD really was that good, even up to its untimely end. Its ensemble of riotously eccentric and unabashedly unrealistic characters and rotating series of megastar guests, like Liza Minelli and Charlize Theron, drew a seriously devoted group of followers. But, sadly, that group wasn’t very large.
Despite critical acclaim, including a spot on Time’s “100 Greatest Television Shows” list and a whopping 22 Emmy nominations in its three-season life, the show proved just a little too out-there for the network TV audience. It had too many silly puns, too many hilariously convoluted plotlines, and too many hints at incest that were supposed to come off as funny. And each episode ended with Executive Producer Ron Howard narrating an “On the next Arrested Development” segment, none of which actually happened in the next episode. Too weird.
Immediately after the show was cancelled, rumors of an upcoming movie began to circulate. And with the immense help of DVDs, the Internet, and the rest of the de-televising of the television industry, AD has maintained its fervent cult following, and perhaps even augmented it, to the point where just about everyone believes that the 10- or 11-episode miniseries and ensuing feature film will not only prove successful enough to make money, but be good enough to warrant watching. Like I said, this isn’t Scrubs—the Bluth family was funny up until the final credits.
The miniseries will also benefit from the fact that the show’s actors, many of whom were lesser-known when AD began, have trampolined into immense success. Before Juno and Superbad, Michael Cera cemented his typecast as the perpetually embarrassed high-schooler with his role as George Michael Bluth, the deadpan, cousin-loving baby of the show’s central family. Almost all of his characters, even his most recent role in Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, still just seem like slightly grown up versions of George Michael.
Although Cera seems to be the one who reaped the most benefits from the show’s springboard, the others have fared pretty well too. Will Arnett, despite an ill-fated sitcom attempt in 2010, has been doing all right for himself, as has Jessica Walker, whose day job is impeccably voicing Mallory, basically an animated version of Lucille Bluth, on FX’s Archer. Jason Bateman is everywhere and, just like Cera, playing virtually the same role every time—the sometimes well-meaning but usually entirely clueless yuppie straight man. And as the short season is going to consist of an episode for each major character, the stunning career trajectories of these actors leave no doubt that any member of the cast will be able to carry his or her own episode.
But as excited as we all are for this recent, for lack of a better word, development, fans need to be careful in their excitement—there’s a chance that the show might flop again, leaving creators pinched financially and unable to make a film. Unfortunately, it turns out there isn’t always money in the banana stand.