February 10, 2006

BACK TO A COMPLETE WASTELAND:

Revolting 'Development' for fans (DOUG ELFMAN, February 10, 2006, Chicago Sun-Times)

The Bluth family is a bunch of lovable morons. On tonight's Fox finale of "Arrested Development," the sister Lindsay drinks an entire open bottle of booze she finds laying around the house because, "Well, I had to ... it's vodka. It goes bad once it's opened."

That's not Lindsay being purposely witty. It's Lindsay being accidentally an idiot. She and her family members are fairly dumb, rich people who run a corrupt home-building business. And they're the stars of one of TV's smartest-written shows, which also happens to be stupid in a good way.

Think of it as smart-stupid, like when Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) defended the destruction of woods for profit.

"We're not the only ones destroying trees," she said. "What about beavers? You call yourself an environmentalist? Why don't you go club a few beavers!?" [...]

Being smart and stupid doesn't make the show a ratings winner, though. Tonight's two-hour block of 30-minute "Arrested" episodes is the last hurrah Fox is giving to the barely watched, Emmy-winning comedy.


No show should continue for longer than three years. We'll always have the DVDs, which are available at Netflix

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 10, 2006 9:18 AM
Comments

As the saying goes, "Humor is subjective."

I found Arrested, as the suits call it, to be too cute for its own good. Quirky for quirky's sake. I quit after two episodes. If Mr. TV critic cites the beaver gag as an example of sparkling writing, I haven't missed much-- It's a cleaned up version of a gag found on many a bumper sticker ("Save a tree, eat a beaver!")

It's been done before-- anyone recall "Soap?"

Posted by: Brian McKim at February 10, 2006 10:15 AM

I'm a recent convert, thanks to the DVDs.

Brilliant show, up there with Curb Your Enthusiasm for belly-laughs.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at February 10, 2006 10:20 AM

TV takes a risk when it tries to make audiences warm up to characters who have few socially redeeming qualities. That's not a shot against AD, just that it's hard to hook the casual channel surfer with the cast's personalities (see the debate here last year that included the problems getting audiences to warm up to "Buffalo Bill" in the early 1980s). But it does have its own niche and it would be nice to see HBO or even Fox's own FX channel pick it up, since they can survive on subscriptions and/or with lower ratings.

Posted by: John at February 10, 2006 11:39 AM

I recall reading w/in the last year a piece on whether shows like AD might become direct to dvd.

I gather that the production costs for AD are fairly high for a sitcom, so it wouldn't work for it, but perhaps in the future a show could produce 1 or 2 seasons for airing to build an audience, and then begin releasing the following seasons only on dvd.

As an aside, David Cross, the guy who plays Tobias, was great in the old HBO series Mr. Show. Well worth getting from Netflix.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 10, 2006 11:54 AM

yes, the days of the studios controlling the distribution of content are coming to a close. if 1M people pay $20 to buy a set of dvd's that's a good chunk of change. and without the inflated overhead (GA) of a studio, the production price will go down too. i imagine many performers would gladly take a percentage of the gross i lieu of a guranteed salary. goodby fox, it was terrible knowing you.

Posted by: toe at February 10, 2006 2:03 PM

Three years?? Heck, the Simpsons was only starting to hit its stride around then.

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 10, 2006 10:27 PM
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