How much do I love Arrested Development? So much that this absurd bit of hyperbole doesn’t seem like that big a stretch :
For believing that the earth orbited the sun, Galileo died under house arrest.
For laying the groundwork for ethics and philosophy, Socrates was sentenced to death by poisoning.
And for creating the most intricately woven, wickedly smart series ever to make it to television, Mitchell Hurwitz has to watch his “Arrested Development” get slapped around in the ratings by the likes of “Yes, Dear,” “Still Standing” and any number of schlumpy-guy-with-a-hot-wife sitcoms.
Humanity has a long history of punishing visionaries, but this is ridiculous.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the punishment is getting worse :
The Bluth clan of Fox’s “Arrested Development” is also headed for the exit after Fox has cut back the third-season order on the Emmy-winning comedy to 13 episodes.
The fact that the ratings for Arrested Development are crap is hardly a secret. Creator Mitchell Hurwitz even acknowledged it as he accepted his second consecutive Emmy a few weeks ago :
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the fact that the academy has twice rewarded us for something that you people won’t watch. Tomorrow you have a chance – tomorrow at 8 o’clock – you know we’d appreciate it. You’ll get back to CBS in time for `Two and a Half Men.
It seems to me that there are two big obstacles standing between AD and the enormous popularity that it deserves :
Arrested Development is on the worst network at the worst time with the worst shows. This may have helped the most critically acclaimed comedy on TV attract the five or six people who are fans of Prison Break and Kitchen Confidential, but for the rest of us, Monday nights on Fox is hardly the ideal venue for your best show. Especially when the already shitty schedule is interrupted for a month by baseball and is about to be interrupted again to make room for a double-helping of Prison Break during sweeps. The show rewards repeated viewings. Granted, it’s not harder to get into than a show like Lost or Desperate Housewives, people aren’t accustomed to anything other than the easiest of laughs from a 30 minute sitcom. True, there’s a lot of silliness on the show, but all of the friends I’ve tried to attract to the show didn’t become big fans until they watched 3 or 4 episodes. This is especially difficult when you consider that the show probably lost a lot of viewers who watched a single episode to give the show a chance and walked away thinking it was all hype.
That said, these are hardly insurmountable problems. I’m entering fantasyland at this point, but here’s what I’d do if I had the power to save the show :
Before the ink is dry on the cancellation notice from FOX, the show should be picked up by NBC to add to their Tuesday night sitcom lineup alongside “The Office” and “My Name Is Earl”. If ever there was a perfect audience for a neglected show, this is it. They should give away a DVD with five episodes from the first season. This might sound weird, but it worked (for me, at least) with “Everybody Hates Chris”. I like Chris Rock and I was curious about his show after all the hype I’d heard, but I don’t think I would have ever watched an episode if UPN hadn’t stuck a DVD of the pilot into a copy of Entertainment Weekly. I don’t watch UPN and I’m really weary of new sitcoms, but this promo let me see the show on my own time and sat on my coffee table as a reminder of the show until I set TIVO to record it. A similar promotion with enough episodes from the first season for people to really get a taste for why AD is so great would be a perfect way to re-introduce people to the show as well as build up sales of the DVD box sets.
So please Mr. TV-Man, save the funniest show on television. The Bluth family is too young to die.
UPDATE : A fellow fan over at The Huffington Post vents :
I’m one of Arrested’s biggest fans and yet during its first two seasons I’d say I only saw a third of the episodes because of confusion over it’s air time. Week after week I’d tune in to find it was continually pre-empted and rescheduled because of Sunday Night Football and Malcom in the Middle re-runs (the most frustrating part of this was when I finally would catch an episode it would typically be a re-run of one of the few I’d actually seen before!) THEN, when they finally put it on Mondays and I think I’ve got a handle on the show’s schedule they preempt the damn thing again for FIVE WEEKS because of baseball! Their website stated at the start of the hiatus that the show would be back Oct 31st, but then when I checked that night, it was two straight hours of that assinine Prison Break show (a guy goes to prison to break his brother out? does that make logical sense to anyone?!). If I hadn’t stayed in the room during the commericla break of the first episode last Monday I wouldn’t have known there was another on at 8:30.
Seriously, how do the brainiacs at Fox not realize that their inability to capitalize on the show’s incredible buzz is based solely on their inconsistant programming schedule?! I mean, it would seem to me that should be one of the must fundamental principles to growing a show’s fan base. Same time, same night, week after week. Don’t preempt, don’t postpone. DUH!
As David Cross ranted at the end of the blooper reel on the season two DVD, the programmers at FOX aren’t the only ones who deserve some scorn :
“I’ve got an idea for what you can do, why don’t you fucking fire your complete marketing team and get a new one there that knows how to market a show that won five motherfucking emmys, golden globes, SAG awards, WGA awards, DVA awards, Producers Guild Awards, critic’s top 10 list; you know if you can’t fucking market that kind of show and get better ratings then maybe the problem doesn’t lie here maybe it lies with marketing.”