Oct 042011
Authors: Matt Miller

Now the story of a TV show that got canceled, and the fans who had no choice but to try to get it back on the air … it’s “Arrested Development.”

 In 2006 the Emmy-winning show was canceled after only three seasons, and what ensued was a movement formed by the show’s cult following to get it back on the air.

 Across the country, fans pulled on their jean shorts, broke out their boxes of illusions, crafted signs saying, “Fans love Bluths” and marched the streets with frozen bananas in hand campaigning for the beloved comedy to return.

 I myself, a diehard fan (my ringtone is still the ukulele song from the opening credits), played a part in these protests. I still remember the horrors of being arrested and my one night in jail –– how good the ice cream sandwiches were and the constant screams of “no touching!”

 The show, about the rich, dysfunctional Bluth family whose construction business is collapsing as a result of their father’s defrauding of investors, and later, “light terrorism” charges, brought smart, fast-paced humor to a mostly dull TV landscape.

But before the show had a chance to develop, it was canceled.

 Gobs of fans immediately mobilized, in hopes that just maybe, the show might return one day. Their message to FOX, the channel that canceled the show, was simple, “You’ve made a huge mistake.”

 Throughout the five years since “Arrested Development’s” cancellation, much of the cast and the show’s creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, dropped hints toward a possible movie or reunion, but each time these turned out to be nothing but rumors. And with each of these rumors, fans of the show felt the final countdown coming –– it looked like “Arrested Development” was dead.

 But this Sunday, fans received a little afternoon delight when the show’s main actor, Jason Bateman, tweeted, “It’s true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ‘13. VERY excited!”

 From the New Yorker Festival, Bateman and Hurwitz blew fans away with conformation that plans for a movie and a new season were solid as a rock.

 The “New York Times” also confirmed the producers were working toward this odd plan of a limited season followed by the movie, and Hurwitz said going through with it, “requires studios to work together that don’t typically work together: film and TV.”

With the hopeful return of “Arrested Development” and other shows like “Family Guy” and “Futurama” –– which have made comebacks due to fan support –– it seems like television networks are good at canceling programs people like and slow to realize they’ve made a huge mistake.

What networks are missing is the foresight to realize they have a quality piece of programming that could eventually catch on. It’s true “Arrested Development” didn’t have many viewers, but this was partially due to FOX’s unwillingness to market anything that wasn’t a generic sitcom.

Shouldn’t Emmys, glowing praise from critics and unique programming mean something?

Throughout the show’s life on the network, its timeslot was consistently changed and for the third season, it ran at the same time as Monday Night Football. The last three episodes were aired as a single episode during the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

“Family Guy” had a similar fate leading up to its cancellation in 2001; it dealt with frequent timeslot changes and ran at the same time as “Friends” and “Survivor.” While “Family Guy” might not have been anything groundbreaking, it was clear that FOX didn’t think something more risqué than the normal program should be marketed.

I have been grumbling about how FOX treated “Arrested Development” for years now, and now that a new season and movie is on its way, I have a bit of a different view.

What impresses me is the fan support that gathers behind shows after cancellation by their network. They can keep the program alive after it’s gone, and through their devotion with websites and DVD sales, they form a sort of movement advocating its return.

It’s interesting that we, as consumers of entertainment, have the ability to influence the actions of TV networks and movie studios alike.

And while TV networks are slow in realizing they’ve made a huge mistake, I think we should give them credit for remedying the situation at all, and we should give the viewers credit for making their voices heard. At least we aren’t in a stage of arrested development in all forms of social activism.

Hopefully there will actually be an “on the next ‘Arrested Development,’” because if these are more rumors, you’ll be hearing from us.

News Editor Matt Miller is a junior journalism major, his column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. If you love “Arrested Development” follow him on Twitter Official_MattM and send Forget-Me-Nows to letterscollegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:49 pm

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