Seven long years ago, the world was forced to say goodbye too early to the most screwed up family on television. The Bluths, of Fox's Arrested Development, slipped quietly into the night on February 10, 2006; it was even more silent because they had to compete against the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. With one quick swoop and a shortened season, one of the greatest television comedies of all time was gone, like one of GOB's
magic tricks illusions.
For those of us who were devout fans of the show, we bought the DVDs and we watched them over and over again, quoting lines, finding plot tie-ins that we'd never caught before, and ultimately feeling superior to those people that had never been exposed to show creator Mitch Hurwitz's masterpiece. "You've never watched Arrested Development?" we ask incredulously. Secretly, despite the disappointment of the canceled series, we relished the fact that "not everyone got it" and we did. Because we were wittier with more intelligent senses of humor (humor snobs). We wanted it to do well, but then we didn't want it to sell out, either, and perhaps it was best that it went down in a blaze, or small fire, of glory.
For the past seven years, there have been murmurs of new episodes, a movie, some sort of reunion, and I for one didn't believe it. Why would Fox, or any other network for that matter, resurrect a failed television show? At its close, Arrested Development was 123rd in the ratings, not a show that you could argue many people were watching. But when the rumor mill cranked up again that Netflix would be producing new episodes, it was still hard to believe. Why? True, the show has some pretty obsessive fans, but we are a small army that just happens to be very good at reciting lines from favorite episodes (Bees. Beads. Beads?). But for whatever reason, and I'm sure that Netflix has calculators and projections and loss spreadsheets and business models, 15 brand-new freakin', how-awesome-is-this episodes will stream on Netflix on May 26. It's like the Spring Break episode when the Bluths try to give Lucille an intervention and all wind up getting drunk and having their best party yet. That's how great this is!
But I am a martini-glass-is-half-empty type of gal, and so I have to ask: What happens if the triumphant return is anything but? What happens if these 15 episodes are (gulp) bad?
First, let's get this out of the way. They won't be bad because they cannot be. No matter what, this show will deliver good things in some capacity. Brilliant? Amazing things? God, I hope so. In preparation for the coming Messiah, I have been rewatching Season Three to remember where we left off. It was never my favorite, so I have watched it fewer times than the others and, while it is amazingly funny, several years later it's still not my favorite season. I recall at the time being worried that the show was going downhill; the British subplot goes on far too long and some of the jokes aren't quite as punchy. It ends incredibly strong, however; perhaps the knowledge that the end was nigh forced the writers to give it their all. On the one hand, there is a fear that the show itself had shot its load back then and perhaps gave us the best years it had. Even a diamond can get dull after a while.
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But there is another, larger concern that I have if this return does not make the cut: Will the fans ever be trusted again? There's been a lot of hoopla over fans making things happen, in television and film; I've already written about the Veronica Mars thing, which falls into the same category, but those people already put their money where their mouths were. Netflix might not make all that much off of this deal. I just signed up for the free month of Netflix knowing full well that I will drop it immediately after watching all 15 episodes multiple times (should I have said that out loud?). When Netflix crunches the money, I don't foresee them having a tower full of gold coins to swim in.
And worse yet, what happens if AD fans are not satisfied with their sacrificial lamb? Will we storm the Twitter and tear down the Facebook walls, blog and bitch and moan that the show failed us? And if we do, how will the people who finance passion projects like this ever take stock in us again? "We gave you your quirky show and you repay us with negative hash tags? Will Arnett will never do anything funny again!"
Obviously, the show is not going to suck and it will spur massive interest in Netflix by enough people who will ultimately forget to cancel their subscription after a month, and when all is said and done, the Arrested Development return will be amazing enough to warrant that movie we've all dreamed about happening. But maybe if we're not all blown away, we should still watch it a few times and Tweet very loudly about how happy it has made us all, just to show the man that we appreciate and we matter.
Because..."We demand to be taken seriously."