Since Netflix saved this show and gave us another 15 glorious episodes, the sting of Arrested Development’s initial cancellation has lessened. But this in turn showcases what an idiotic move it was for the Fox network to cancel this fine series in the first place. I understand that it’s all about ratings and if a show doesn’t get them high enough it’s gone but come on! If you have a zeitgeist type of show, and Arrested Development was one, plus it’s nominated for a slew of Emmy’s over the course of its run, how as a network do you fail to promote it and make it work?
Fox failed to capitalize on what it had. I remember seeing an interview with Jason Bateman, who played Michael Bluth, head of a family of misfits, where he talked about the series’ cancellation and how most shows try to make it to 100+ episodes, in order to get into the coveted syndication territory.
Arrested Development, with only 53 episodes, didn’t make it to that level, not even close. But Bateman spoke on how it wasn’t built that way to begin with. It wasn’t meant to have five full seasons, just two and a half. The show was what it was on purpose; a quirky, silly, trippy sitcom that defied categorization and labeling.
The fans were/are rabid, but the show doesn’t appeal to everyone. With nine main cast members, and constant reshuffling of its time slot on Fox, it’s no wonder it was difficult for most people to follow. It was kind of all over the place but there in lies its appeal for those of us in the know. There were certain things about the characters you could come to rely on, like Will Arnett’s Gob screwing up anything he got involved with in spectacular fashion, or Bateman’s Michael sacrificing something personal to save everyone else, but the story itself was surprising at every turn.
There was an overarching plotline to the show. It was Michael keeping his family together while still developing a relationship with his son. But some times it’s hard to follow with so many subplots going on. Buster fighting with Lucille (Lucille One, his real mother and Lucille Two, played by Liza Minnelli of all people) over his lifestyles as a mommy’s boy, Gob and his goofy illusions and battles with the Magician’s Guild, Tobias and Lindsay’s fake marriage and the pathetic attempts at keeping it going, George Michael (Bateman’s son on the show played by Michael Cera) having feelings for his cousin Maeby (played by Alia Shawkat)… on and on.
There was a lot going on with this show but this subtle complexity is what made it so great and what Fox failed to understand.