THIS WEEK: October 2 – 8, 2011
The Week At Large
This past week started well enough, but took a hell of a mid-week bump when news hit that Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, died at age 56 after many years of battling pancreatic cancer. My thoughts go out to his family and friends. But not all ends are sad ones; I guarantee that not a single tear was shed when TV viewers received word that The Playboy Club, NBC’s take on 1960’s Playboy Bunnies, was the first fall series to be cancelled. Speaking of cancellations, did you hear that The Simpsons was almost cancelled? Apparently, Fox was having a hard time paying productions costs, and demanded that the six principal voice actors take a 45 percent pay cut. Sounds pretty severe, I know, but those six actors were each bringing home around $400,000 per episode. And so the six have decided to take a pay cut, and the animated series that never ends continues to do so (click here for more).
The Close Up
But let’s be honest: most TV shows that are cancelled deserve to be canned, whether because of bad writing, bad acting, or out-of-this-world production costs. Of course, there are exceptions. I’m sure many in the geek fandom will gladly count off on their fingers the number of quality shows that bit the bullet well before their time. Firefly, anybody?
Which makes this week’s news of the 2003-2006 cult favourite Arrested Development coming back a cause for celebration. The American sitcom, which follows the dysfunctional Bluth family, is returning for a short 10-episode season, which will lead into a feature film. Rumours have it that filming will begin this coming summer. Are you excited? Hell yes?
Well, maybe you shouldn’t be.
Make no mistake: Arrested Development is a great series. Like many in its growing fanbase, I came to the show considerably late … as in five years after it went off the air. Even still, it didn’t take me very long to become an ardent fan. It was a sitcom, yes, but a sitcom shot as a mockumentary that was peopled with a wide array of competing, conflicting, and complimentary characters that came together and somehow made Arrested Development an especially unique and compelling bit of television. Need I mention that it also introduced many of us to a much younger Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrimvs. the World)?
But that doesn’t mean that I want to see it come back. I love the show, but I’d prefer it stayed dead. I mean that—I really do.
Look, by the time the first of the ten episodes airs, nearly seven years will have passed since the show was cancelled. A lot changes in seven years. Not only are all of the actors older (and, like Michael Cera, also looking older), but their characters are older, too. Older and different. Over time, people and characters change. I’m not convinced that the tone and dynamic of the show can be maintained in the face of such necessary changes. The father-son relationship between Cera and Bateman was the heart of the show. By necessity, that relationship will be considerably different. And I’m not sure that difference won’t spoil the series as a whole.
I’m nit picking, I know. But the fact of the matter remains that, though the show ended somewhat abruptly in its third season, it nevertheless ended when it was at its best. More episodes means the potential for failure or, worse, mediocrity.
And that, my friends, is not something I can stand for. I’d much rather a laugh be cut short than have it fizzle and grow stale.
The 168 Turnaround is a week-in-review column, a place for me to reflect on the week’s most interesting pop culture news items. If it mattered to me or I think it might matter to you, then it will be here. If I’ve overlooked an important news item, or if you have a comment or question, please leave a response below. Thank you for reading.