Sunday, February 12, 2006

Development Arrested

Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

More specifically, sometimes great television shows unfairly get the axe entirely too soon. I felt this way my sophomore year of college, when my favorite show was unequivocally “Family Guy,” but I could never figure out what night the damn show was on and therefore couldn’t watch it. In February of 2002, the show was cancelled for the second time due to lack of viewership.

“Family Guy” got lucky though; because of the show’s successful syndication on Cartoon Network and the DVD box sets beaking all kinds of sales records, an entirely new audience for the cult hit spawned, and the Fox network brought it back in the spring of 2005. My gut feeling is that a similar revival won’t be occurring for my favorite show over the last three years (strangely enough, picking right up where “Family Guy” was forced to leave off), “Arrested Development.”

To appreciate “Arrested,” one must not only have an above-average intelligence, but also an intimate understanding of the characters (which truthfully, can only be obtained through viewing the show from episode one) and an appreciation for allusion and entendre. It’s a show based off good, smart humor, and I’m really bummed out that the show is over.

I’m even more bummed out that Fox shafted the sitcom for the entire third and final season. Halfway through, the network shortened the order from 22 episodes to 13, airing nine of those immediately, then waiting almost six weeks to air the final four in ONE NIGHT. Just back-to-back-to-back-to-back. The show was forced to jam all of the plot twists they would’ve laid out over nine episodes into the four they were given, so everything felt very rushed and forced. In any event, I’ll have three wonderful box sets to enjoy for the rest of my life. To show my children, even.

Unless Showtime picks up the show as rumored (though unlikely—apparently it all depends on creator Mitch Hurwitz), I’ll have watched my last episode. So where do I go from here? The following are my Top 5 Arrested Development Rebound Shows, in order from least favorite to most:

5. “My Name is Earl” (NBC Thursdays, 8:00). This one stars Jason Lee (most notably known for his roles in the Kevin Smith movies) as a lower-class white trash loveable loser who learns about karma and looks to correct a list of all the horrible things he’s done in his life. It also stars Ethan Suplee (the fat poetic bully from “Boy Meets World”) as Earl’s simpleton brother Randy, who honestly is the funniest character in the show. The writing is really good, and it’s got some star power (Jaime Pressley is in it, too), making it a more than affable viewing experience.

4. “Prison Break” (FOX, returns in March). I’ll explain it this way: the Chicago White Sox only lost one game in the 2005 playoffs, but for that entire one game, my stomach felt as if it were harboring a colony of killer bees and rabid marmosets fighting over territory. This show creates the exact same sensation every single episode. The premise is that a Michael Scofield’s brother has been falsely put onto Death Row, so Scofield gets himself arrested and plans on using his knowledge of the prison to break his brother out (This works because Scofield helped build the prison—he has the blueprints tattooed on his body). It’s highly addictive, and I guarantee that it will grab your interest after watching only one or two episodes.

3. “Scrubs” (NBC Tuesdays, 8:00 and 8:30). In the movie of my life, I think I’d cast Zach Braff to play me, and anyone who watches this show would probably agree that you see a little bit of Joel in the character of J.D. From what I understand, this is pretty far from an accurate portrayal of life in a hospital, but I laugh out loud at least one time per episode. Dr. Perry Cox (one of the Bobs from “Office Space”) is by far my most beloved character, ripping on every single character on the show. Insults are my favorite.

2. “24” (Fox Mondays, 8:00). I don’t want any of you emailing me spoilers to the current season, because Li’l Bro and I are only about 2/3 of the way through Season 2. I’ll tell you what, though—this show is high energy, high drama, high violence, and most importantly, high extremity. There are times when I want to BE Jack Bauer, who is probably the single most badass television character of all time. I even had a dream recently that I worked for CTU and that I had to stop some assassination attempt. I did. It was ubar.

1. “The Office” (NBC Thursdays, 8:30). Steve Carrel of “The Daily Show” and “40-Year Old Virgin” fame is probably the single most hilarious sitcom protagonist (or antagonist, depending on how you look at it) on television today. His sadly self-centered, “hey-look-at-me” personality is good for several belly laughs an episode, and there’s times where you even feel a little sorry for the guy. Other characters Dwight (the nerdy kiss-ass in the office) and Jim (who reminds me very much of Cole Lauterbach—I swear you could mix Jim and Chandler of “Friends,” and you’d have Cole. Seriously) lead a supporting cast chocked-full of hilarity themselves. It’s the funniest show (left) on television.

If you’re like me, and you’re going to really miss “Arrested Development,” you may need to soothe yourself by watching some of these shows. None of them will ever replace our crazy Bluth family, but they will have to do.

Now, we keep our fingers crossed for Cinemax to come through.

Come on, Cinemax…

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