Monday, October 3, 2011

There's Always Money in the Banana Stand... why do we feel the pressing need for more Arrested Development?

The news hit the Internet this morning that not only is the AD movie is really (maybe sort-of) happening, but it will be accompanied (again, maybe sort-of) a new batch of episodes, a "fourth season" to serve as a bridge between the end of the show's original run and the events of the movie. At this moment, it doesn't seem like Fox, which originally carried the show, will carry this fourth season, with Showtime and Netflix "in talks" to do so instead.

If this doesn't scream early '00s, nothing does.

I'm a fan of the show. And while the rest of the show's fanbase (which I'm sure is at least twice the size of it's original run, thanks to it's cult status on DVD) is approaching this news with rabid elation, I can't help but think of the Bluth's unofficial family motto: they're making a terrible mistake. Here's the thing: AD was lightning in a bottle. It was the result of the perfect chemistry of the actors mixed with the spitfire comic genius that emerged from the writers' room. It was a show that could have only existed at that exact moment in time, capturing the turmoil of those early Iraq years and spinning them into brilliant comedy. It was also a show that benefited from cancellation: it was already starting to lose steam in season three (and, really, towards the end of season two), and could have collapsed entirely had it not been for Fox's decision to not order any new episodes. As such, it now remains in near perfect form, a true masterstroke of television comedy.

So why threaten (nay, nearly guarantee) the tarnishing of that legacy with more? The ensemble may be able to reignite that chemistry, but all of them have moved on to other things since the show came to a close. Jason Bateman and Michael Cera are improbable movie stars, while Will Arnett is anchoring Up All Night on NBC. Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor have Archer, Alia Shawkat has a growing movie career, and Portia di Rossi and Tony Hale have bit parts in several things. As for David Cross, he's resumed stand-up as well as IFC's The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. With so much else going on, there's no guarantee that they can strike that same ensemble chemistry they had before.

There's also the more glaring fact that none of the show's producers/writers have had success since then. Mitchell Hurwitz in particular has gone from one failed project to the next (Running Wilde, anyone?), and none of those ever came close to finding the humor of AD, despite his best efforts. As I said before, the writers were already running out of steam; a six-year break certainly wouldn't do them any real favors (though logic would suggest otherwise).

Now, this could, by some miracle, work. The idea that Showtime or Netflix would pick up the fourth season would give the writers more freedom to do their thing, theoretically, but what if it was the strictures of network television that gave AD its creative bursts? As for the movie, AD is great in the span of 30 minutes, but we're talking about expanding that to two hours. Everyone involved is going to have to do more than capture lightning in a bottle twice; they're going to have to catch lightning and split an atom simultaneously.

All in all, I think this is a terrible idea. Even as a fan of the show, I can't say that I would be able to watch either the new season or the movie. That is, of course, if they ever happen, which I'm still 99% sure they won't. Which means that all of this speculation and worry will eventually amount to nothing. Hopefully.

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