I hate being wrong.
When first I reported upon the brand new “Fat Actress” on Showtime and “Medium” on ABC, I wasn’t too thrilled with either.
But over time the shows have hit their strides, and are now among the best offerings of the new season. “Fat Actress” has limited the amount of time its main star, Kirstie Alley, shrieks and thrashes about while “Medium” has proved that all of its characters are necessary, even star Patricia Arquette’s children.
Both shows ought to have lengthy runs, especially “Medium,” which just gets better and better with each new episode.
Unfortunately, one show that has passionate but few followers is Fox’s “Arrested Development.” It has the critics behind it, dozens of awards and a fan base not seen since “The X Files” yet it is in danger of getting the ax next season. To this end, Fox has set up an interactive petition of sorts to take the temperature of fans out there who don’t want to see the show cancelled. It’s called a “Loyalty Oath,” and once you sign it you’re taking a vow to watch the show whenever it comes on the air.
The petition adds:
“I vow to join the grassroots efforts to ensure that Arrested stays in our lives. I will invite all of my friends and family members that have yet to experience the genius of ‘Arrested Development’ to join me and the other citizens of Arrested Nation this Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. and convince them, although they’ve been missing out on this amazing show for two seasons, it’s still not too late to become a member. With these efforts, I promise to keep ‘Arrested Development’ alive!”
This is indeed a grassroots effort by the producers and fans of the show to bypass the frigidity of the bottom line, which is, slightly poor ratings. So why has it, with all of the great buzz and hefty fan base, taking so long for “Arrested Development” to get popular?
The show seems to be trying to reach out to the same people who love “The Simpsons” enough to keep it high in the ratings for its umpteenth season. It is funny and smartly written and has the heft of the Brian Grazer/Ron Howard team behind it (Howard narrates the show’s episodes). There probably isn’t a show this entire year that has gotten as much press, as many accolades and universal praise.
Unfortunately, there is a problem with “Arrested Development,” which is, as it turns out, the same problem with “24,” another FOX show, and “Desperate Housewives,” though not a big enough problem to curtain the show’s success. It’s that nagging fear that we won’t be able to catch up to what’s going on.
One viewing of “Arrested Development” might offer a laugh or two but most of the humor seems to be inside jokes. One would have to be extremely motivated to figure out the ins and outs of the Bluths – who is married to whom, why does this person like that person, etc. The show takes no prisoners – it moves at a breakneck speed, one hilarious situation after another. The viewer has to be paying attention or it will all be just too confusing.
It doesn’t really matter that the Fox website (www.fox.com/arresteddev/) has all of the catch-up info, or that if you watch one or two episodes, you can pick up enough information to at least laugh at the jokes (I laughed heartily on the first episode I ever saw, even though I was completely lost). The fact remains that most people are too busy or too tired or too lazy to play catch up. They want to be entertained from the first moment onward.
This is why shows like “CSI” or “Desperate Housewives” are doing so well – even though the characters have back-stories, you don’t need to know them to enjoy the show. As it happens, most people probably do know the back-stories but … the bottom line is that, for whatever reason, vast amounts of Americans don’t feel motivated enough to “get” the show.
The other possibility is that most of the characters on the show aren’t likeable. There isn’t a loveable racist like Archie Bunker – these people are, for the most part, pretty awful. On the other hand, what’s wrong with that?
If you like the show, please visit www.getarrested.com and pledge your support.
Meanwhile, as if things couldn’t get any worse, another reality show couple is going to celebrate its nuptials on television (where else). Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich—who met and became engaged on “Survivor” and then went on to join “The Amazing Race,” have gotten hitched. CBS sent a camera along to record the event which will be televised on May 24th in a two-hour special.
This is what it’s come down to, folks. “Arrested Development” gets cancelled, reality show weddings flourish.
Thursday, April 21
American History X (***), 8 p.m., IFC.
Battlefield Britain, Battle for Wales, 9 p.m., KCET.
The Meaning of Food, food and family, 10 p.m., KCET.
They Live (***), hilarious John Carpenter’s send up of horror films, 10 p.m., AMC.
Friday, April 22
Reality Bites (***), back when Winona Ryder was stigma-free, 7:30 p.m., WE.
Maid in Manhattan (*), awful Jennifer Lopez movie, 8 p.m., FOX.
Law & Order: Trial by Jury, 10 p.m., NBC.
The Legend of Bagger Vance (*), 10 p.m., TNT.
Saturday, April 23
Is Paris Burning (***), 7:30 p.m., TCM.
The Empire Strikes Back (****), 8 p.m., UPN.
Mystery! Murder Rooms, 8 p.m., KCET.
My Son Shall be Armenian, 9 p.m., KCET.
An Affair to Remember (**), 7:30 p.m., AMC.
Locusts, 9 p.m., CBS.
Mystery! Miss Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage, 9 p.m., KCET.
Velvet Goldmine (**), 9 p.m., IFC.
Monday, April 25
The Devil and Miss Jones (***), 7:30 p.m., AMC.
The American Experience: The Fall of Saigon, 9 p.m., KCET.
The Panic in Needle Park (***), 9 p.m., FMC.
Wire in the Blood, the best crime drama on TV, 9 p.m., BBC.
Tuesday, April 26
The Verdict (****), 7:30 p.m., AMC.
American Idol, getting down to the last remaining contestants, 8 p.m., FOX.
Nova: Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land, 8 p.m., KCET.
Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America? 9 p.m., KCET.
Wednesday, April 27
G.I. Jane (**), is it really necessary to watch this film? No. 7:30 p.m., AMC.
Revelations, if you dare, 8 p.m., NBC.
Biography: Brad Pitt, 10 p.m., BIO.
National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth, 9 p.m., KCET.