Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Arresting Intelligent Development: Fox's Fall Lineup

This really gets me.

Anyone who really knows me, knows I'm a huge fan of the series Arrested Development. Not a fan in the sense of, crazy, stupid time-waster fan who creates a web site devoted to the show or any of the actors/actresses in it. Not like that. No, I just love the show.

I don't have an enormous dvd library. I have a few dvds (good dvds like Annie Hall, Manhattan, American Beauty and Harold and Maude [which actually belongs to a friend of mine. It's not my fault. I tried to give it back to him several times.]). Among my small collection is one season of Frasier and two seasons of The Simpson's. I also have both seasons of Arrested Development, with plans to get season 3 when it comes out on August 29th. Of the three television shows, I have watched Arrested Development the most. That I even own it is testament to my loving it. It should feel lucky. Lucky that it’s in my collection.

Stoker and I have found innumerable moments in our lives that can somehow relate to a comical or quotable phrase in Arrested Development (such as when Lucille says, "If that's a veiled criticism, I won't hear it and I won't respond." You can use it for just about any thing, from conversations with annoying co-workers to breaking awkward silences). It informs our lives almost as much as our religion. Does that sound psychotic? Or perhaps, crazy? Maybe it does. But I don't think of myself as an Arrested Development fundamentalist. I just worship the show in my spare time, that’s all.

So, what gets me is that the series wasn't renewed for the fall. In fact, last season was cut short. I don't know what the problem is with the retarded powers-that-be at Fox. I'm sure they'd say they gave it a fair shot. They gave it three seasons and it didn't turn into some shameless cult thing like American Idol. Their problem, then, is expecting every show they air to draw as many inane viewers as the embarrassing spectacle that is American Idol.

I know, I know. American Idol is like the ultimate American dream. It's the king of all game shows. It's the game show that never ends for the lucky final contestants who go on to riches and fame and a prolific recording career or sponsorships or something equally enriching and exciting. I just find it vulgar, that’s all. It embarrasses me. It embarrasses me to see artistic expression like singing, turned into a glittery spectacle. It embarrasses me to see, or rather to know—since I’ve never actually watched it—that there are horrible singers putting themselves out there to be ridiculed, laughed at, and verbally decimated by Simon and the viewing audience. In that way, in that some people know they suck, but they want to get on television at whatever cost, I see that American Idol is no different from Jerry Springer. It’s all trash.

Arrested Developtment is gone and what gets me is that Fox’s fall lineup consists of a bunch of crap. Crap that I feel pretty certain doesn’t, or shouldn't, get ratings as high as Arrested Development; crap that isn’t visionary, but is instead the recycled tripe of debased 1980’s television fare like Married with Children (The War at Home); crap that is essentially C.S.I., 24, Law & Order, Alias and E.R. all tossed into an Oster, pulverized, poured into a glass and served like it was something different, something new. But it’s not. It all tastes the same. It all sounds the same. The characters are all the same. (House, Bones, Standoff, Justice, Vanished, et al).

So finally, a show arrives that is insightfully funny, innovative, clever, witty, and that allows itself to be watched over and over again because of its deftly layered humor. It bursts upon the tired scene of lawyer/cop/doctor/FBI agent dramas, and exhausting and embarrassing “reality” shows, and what do they do? Essentially, they leash it and then as though punishing a bad child, take away its freedom (by cutting the number of episodes last season) and then in a final act of violent discipline, completely sever it from its friends. Me and the rest of the devoted fans and viewing audience. We should be happy, I guess is what they're saying, with drivel like Happy Hour and Standoff.

No comments: