Stop The Reboots: Say No To The 'Arrested Development' Remake
It’s always hard to judge when something has run its course, especially in television and film. When is it appropriate to make a sequel or a prequel or a reboot? When should a hit television show continue to plug on and when should it call it quits? Unfortunately, the answer is only ever revealed in hindsight, sometimes to great joy and other times to harrowing disappointment. Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Dark Knight proved to be welcome additions and even, in some eyes, considerable upgrades to their predecessors, while the Star Wars prequels and Prometheus left many die-hard fans miffed. The same goes for television, where fans may want more and more, only to be saddened when a show sputters to its end. The most contemporary example is The Office, which made the bold and risky move to proceed without its star, Steve Carell. The result was a lukewarm eighth season, and the decision that this current season, its ninth, will now be the last.
Upon hearing of the Arrested Development revival — a fourth season is being released on Netflix in 2013 followed by a feature film — I found myself re-watching the series in excitement. But soon I began to wonder if I really wanted to see more about “The story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.” With sharp writing and a humor three steps ahead of its competitors, Arrested Development famously wowed critics, garnering 14 Primetime Emmy nominations and four wins as well as a slew of other accolades in just three seasons on the air — but it failed to attract a large following and was subsequently cancelled by Fox. Upon DVD releases of the show, which were named on Time's 2007 list of the “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME,” quickly gained a cult following.
There is something special about Arrested Development’s chaotic arc. After its second and third seasons were cut back to 18 and 13 episodes, respectively, the writers were pressured to complete a narrative they had gone to great pains to craft along the way. By the third season, things admittedly got a bit out of hand for the Bluths, with the bizarre inclusion of Charlize Theron’s Mr. F character and the hastily-round up discovery that it was not George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambour), but Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter, and not to be confused with Liza Minnelli's Lucille Ostero, a.k.a. Lucille 2) who was pulling the strings for the Bluth company. And yet, viewers who stuck with the show were rewarded with jokes established sometimes one, even two seasons prior (the return of Anyong anyone?), and still given a decent sense of closure.
I should confess that I didn't watch Arrested Development when it was on air. I bought the DVDs in 2010 and quickly burned through them, deciding for myself it was the best and funniest television show I had ever seen. So, with the news that they are bringing it back, I am admittedly torn. Film exposure will surely expose its unmatched humor to a larger audience and hopefully grant the show the attention deserves. But it’s a gamble, and any addition runs the risk of tarnishing its original run. I, for one, don’t want to treat Arrested Development with the type of selective memory with which we view Michael Jordan’s career, painfully omitting his second comeback with the Washington Wizards.
Perhaps most puzzling of all, despite not having been one of the original Development devotees, I still feel a sense of ownership and investment in the show, like I’m part of a select club who has witnessed smart, witty television at its best, and selfishly want this group to remain small. After all, isn’t that half the fun of Development these days?
Take, for instance, a season one scene in which G.O.B Bluth (Will Arnett) winds up in the hospital due to a magic trick — I mean — illusion gone wrong. When mother Lucille visits G.O.B. and learns from her other son, Michael (Jason Bateman) that there is no “hospital bar,” she exclaims: “This is why people hate hospitals,” letting out a wicked laugh as she leaves the room. Watching the episode now, there is a pleasure in feeling you’re still one of the few people who have heard her cackle echo down the hallway.
Relive some of Arrested Development's funniest moments with these videos: