Friday, July 11, 2008

The Most Important Thing

Last night, K-Dub and I finally finished off a multiple-month marathon of all three seasons of "Arrested Development." While it was somewhat bittersweet to make it through the series, I wasn't hit with the same sadness I experienced after completing "Cowboy Bebop" or "Firefly (maybe I just like space western operas). There has been much talk of a movie version of the television show. I suppose the creators could make something work, but many (if not all) of the conflicts were resolved in the series finale. As much as I would like to see an Arrested Development movie, ah, who am I kidding, I'll go see it. There aren't many shows reach nicely transition into a movie, and I'm still skeptical of how the AD conceit will translate to the silver screen.

Watching television programs on DVD gives a great insight at the growth and development of a show. You pick up on little quirks and hidden jokes much faster than when the show was originally broadcast. You see a character fleshed out and defined much faster as well. One of the pratfalls of this method, however, is noticing lags, valleys, or uneven production throughout the course of a season or a series. Karu and I both found ourselves feeling that some episodes from the second and third (especially) seasons were below the standard that much of first season set. This can be attributed to the lack of care and passion that Fox held for the show, coupled with the fact that the third season was cut short and thus handcuffed from fully exploring the concept (the third season had been cut from 18 episodes to 13). At the same time, I feel that the people writing, directing, and shooting the show during its lulls weren't hitting the same tempo and style that others had crafted so well.

Much of the blame for the show being shortened and eventually cancelled can be placed on the studio executives at Fox. The show was adored and praised by critics, contemporaries, and foreign dignitaries of state, but that didn't translate into viewership and ratings because Fox didn't care to market the greatest product in the history of its broadcast. The show continuously suffered from schedule shifts, multiple week breaks between episodes, and then ultimately being scaled back in the final season and the series finale scheduled as a block of four episodes airing against the opening night of the 2006 Winter Olympics. If you are a miner and you have just cracked open the largest gold klondike in the history of mankind, you would, of course, chip off little bits of the claim and then throw the bits up in the air and hope that it does well on its own.

Maybe some day I'll revisit the three seasons of Arrested Development with a longing desire for original, cutting edge comedy. The first season will definitely fulfill that, while the latter two will only fuel my curiosity for what could have been.

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