Saturday, February 11, 2006

R.I.P. Arrested Development

I know the Showtime and ABC deals are still out there.

I know there's a chance Mitchell Hurwitz will decide to take one of these deals and keep his firstborn alive.

But damn if those last four episodes didn't feel like a finale.

I know the third season flailed in places and wasn't as solid all around as the first two, but it was still solidly entertaining. I know the show wasn't for everyone and never would be, but for those of us who did love it, it was like a fresh breath of air.

The greatest irony of all, of course, is that Arrested Development has paved the way for comedies that take greater liberties with the form. It's created a whole new way to tell sitcom stories, and the shows that have followed in its footsteps have figured out a way to make its idiosyncratic style accessible. And, of course, these shows (which occasionally even borrow the AD structure wholesale) have become much, much more successful.

But these sorts of things have to happen. James L. Brooks was stymied by the death of the groundbreaking Room 222. But he took everything he learned from that and turned it into The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi and The Simpsons. Aaron Sorkin could never make Sports Night take flight, but he turned The West Wing into a phenomenon. And J.J. Abrams struggled with Felicity and Alias' audience woes before he turned out Lost. So in this likely death, we might find some sort of silver lining. It would be great to see Hurwitz tackle the '70s and '80s-style workplace sitcom.

But, for now, the last episodes are playing on the TiVO one last time, and they're still fresh and funny.

So cheers to you, Arrested Development. May you live on in cable reruns and on DVDs. And may your audience someday find you, even if they do so one by one at 3 a.m. on Comedy Central.

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