Tuesday, October 04, 2005

TV: Is this the end of Arrested Development?

"For British eyes only!" That line has been sing-songing through my head all morning, and if you don't know why, you haven't been watching Arrested Development. And not watching Arrested Development makes baby Jesus cry.

Last night's episode was once again hysterical. Casting Scott Baio as the new Bluth family lawyer, Bob Loblaw (say it out loud, as in Michael's line, "We don't want to talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw") was inspired. He takes the place of Henry Winkler's Barry Zuckercorn. "It's not the first time I've replaced Barry Zuckercorn," Baio says, "plus I skew younger." Wonderful reference to Happy Days, former TV home of Baio's Chachi, the younger-skewing version of Winkler's Fonzie. (Not to mention narrator Ron "Richie Cunningham" Howard.)

The meta-tastic references don't stop there. At one point, Tobias counsels Buster, and Buster has a breakthrough. "If this were a Lifetime movie of the week," Tobias says (and forgive me for paraphrasing from memory), "this would be the perfect moment for an act break." Cue the "going to commercial" music! Then the music stops, and the characters stand in awkward silence for a moment. "But this isn't a Lifetime movie," narrator Howard says, and the episode continues. Later, Buster has a bigger breakthrough. "Now there's your act break," Tobias says triumphantly. Cut to commercial!

Still later, Michael tells guest star Charlize Theron that Americans are emotionally immature, living in a state of arrested development. "Hey, that's the name of the show!" interrupts the narrator.

We also learn this episode that Tobias was the world's first combination analyst and therapist, and he has the business cards to prove it: "Tobias Fünke: ANALRAPIST." "It's pronounced 'uh-NAL-ruh-PIST,'" he explains to Buster. "It wasn't the pronunciation that worried me," Buster replies.

And the ongoing storyline, about the British spying on the Bluth family (which is where the "For British eyes only" theme song comes in) is perfectly ridiculous, with spymaster Dave Thomas making Theron wear a series of goofy hats with obvious microphones in them. I fear we'll never see the end of this storyline, though. It looks like the baseball playoffs will be pre-empting the show for the next month, and with the miserable ratings so far this year, I doubt we'll see the show return after baseball is over. I hate to say it, but I think this is the end of the funniest show on TV.

Damn you, Nielsen viewers!! DAMN YOU!! Why didn't you watch this show? Was it because it was too smart? Was it because it asked you to use your memory, and recall things from previous episodes? Was it because it didn't have a laugh track, so you didn't know if they were being funny or not? Was it because Fox sucked ass at promoting it? (Especially this season, when Fox moved the show from Sunday to Monday and didn't really bother to tell anyone they'd done it.) Did it hurt your head to remember more than five characters? Did you feel the show was talking down to you, as I am right now? Why, damn you, why??

It's a miracle it made it to the third season, I guess, but it's a crime it might not be making it any farther.

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