Development Arrested

11 02 2006

I just watched the final four episodes, and my limited vocabulary can’t describe how funny they were. I have never seen so many storylines tied up so cleverly, and with so much deft, subtle wit. It really was like watching 21st century Chaucer. I can’t immagine I’ll laugh so hard again at TV, but who knows. Because I can’t praise it highly enough, so I’ll post a few thoughts from fans and critics alike.

These quotes come from the Forums of “Television Without Pity” seconds after it finished.

-Amazing. If it was the end, and, sadly, I think it was, it was a brilliant way to end.

-No. F*cking. Words. ….I have to collect myself.

-I’m in tears, you guys. Seriously, that was one of the best half hours of my life and yet I’m in tears. Damn you and your genius, Hurwitz!!!

-If that was the finale for the show, that was absolutely the best finale I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I hope it wasn’t though.

-When Ron Howard said “it was Arrested Development” I just lost it. Taste the sad, guys.

-Best Episode Ever. It’s over, folks. That’s it. How could the show continue from here? It was great while it lasted.

-I don’t think it’s a matter of not being able to get the humor, but watching AD is akin to a good mental workout like a brainteaser. It’s like a game of reflexes to catch the rapid fire jokes, callbacks, freeze frame gags, etc. I can understand why not everyone would want to deal with that. Plus, you have to have a fairly perverse sense of humor to appreciate it all.

and this is probably the best reason I have read for its cancellation, taken from an article by Matthew Gilbert in the Boston Globe:

Indeed, we’re lucky to have gotten 53 rich episodes. I still marvel at the frequency of jokes in each 22-minute block of Arrested Development. The four final episodes, are so layered, you’ll want to re-watch them to catch the puns and self-references and sly allusions you overlooked. The writers of the show, led by creator Mitchell Hurwitz, loved to bury easy-to-miss comic Easter eggs in their dialogue. And with no laugh track to signal “LAUGH NOW” and a cast that’s expert at casually dropping lines, so many of the goofs on Tobias’s sexuality and Lucille’s alcoholism just snuck on by.

Thankfully, the series will always be re-watchable on the medium that has rescued TV from the electronic void: DVD.

But it wasn’t just the sophistication and intricacy of Arrested Development that doomed it. Yes, the show was so imaginatively out there it made viewers work to understand its unique comic language. But viewers are willing to disentangle tight plot knots on the likes of “Lost.” We’re not always lazy.

The deeper problem for “Arrested Development” was its identity as the antithesis of “Everybody Loves Raymond” at a time when family sitcoms have retreated from the edge. To be a hit domestic comedy, you have to be as fangless and traditional, or else leave domestic humor behind for the dating realm. Arguably, as global threats become more harsh, viewers prefer to see home life as a safe haven and not as the hyperactive battlefield it is on ”Arrested Development.”

It was probably not the right time for such a bent sitcom on a major network. It’s tempting to point the finger at Fox, for its reckless time-slotting of the show, which won Emmys for best comedy, writing, directing, and casting. But I sense that the cancellation has more to do with us than them. There is certainly a taste for wicked and abrasive TV comedy today, but it’s a cult phenomenon. Shows such as Ricky Gervais’s ”The Office” (which is cooler than the American version) and Larry David’s ”Curb Your Enthusiasm” probably wouldn’t thrive on a major network, where the priorities are high ratings and advertiser comfort with the material. If the rumors that Showtime will take over the Fox sitcom come true, which is highly unlikely, the cable network will serve as a better home.

”Arrested Development” was both wonderfully ludicrous and subtle. Alas, it might have been too much of each to survive.

If any of the cast or crew are skimming through blogger looking for Arrested Development news and come across this post, thanks for the comedy. 53 episodes of pure gold. Now I feel like less like doing my chicken dance, and more like walking to work like this.

EDIT:-
As an epilogue to my Arrested Development coverage, I’m changing the name of the blog to “Hey, Hermano!” for as long as I feel like it, dedicated to the joke I’ve laughed hardest at in recent times. Oh yeah and google “funniest show on TV” and see what google brings up first. Like Ron Howard said at the end on Friday, “It was Arrested Development”.

Advertisements