The 2010-2011 TV season was a particularly rough one for me. It seemed like every new show that I took a chance on was cancelled (Lone Star, Chicago Code, Detroit 1-8-7, Lights Out, Rubicon, Mr. Sunshine, No Ordinary Family). It was a real disappointment – so many of these new shows were well done and had tremendous potential for future seasons. Unfortunately, due to poor marketing, time slot completion or trigger happy network executives, these shows never found an audience and the vision of the creators was never fulfilled. For people who love television, it was particularly frustrating to see these shows pulled from the schedule when they surpassed the quality of many of the shows that were renewed.
The television graveyard is littered with great shows that were “gone too soon.” Many of these shows were critical darlings that just never gained the traction needed to continue. Insult is often added to injury for fans when people discover the show after cancellation and sing its praises. If only all these people had tuned in originally, the show may be still on the air! Usually, the best the fan of a cancelled show can hope for is to get together with like-minded people and grumble about the ignorance of the public, the greed of executives and take solace that they got to be part of something special, though short-lived. They can cling to their DVDs of the show and think about “what might have been.”
But every once in a while, the television gods smile upon the fans of these cancelled shows. Sometimes – just sometimes – these shows find ways to come back. For the fans that refused to let their show die, who continue to talked about it and introduced it to new people, their faith is occasionally rewarded. It happened with Family Guy (cancelled on Fox in 2001, to be brought back in 2004); it happened with Southland (cancelled on NBC and picked up by TNT); it happened with Futurama (cancelled by Fox in 2003 and resurrected by Comedy Central in 2010).
And much to my delight, it’s happening for Arrested Development.
I was all in on Arrested Development from the beginning. I don’t know what made me decide to tune into the quirky little show about the wonderful dysfunctional Bluth family, but I was hooked from the get-go. It was clever, smart and ridiculously funny. It had subtle running jokes that rewarded loyal viewers. Though its ratings were low, it cultivated a devout cult following of rabid fans over its brief 3 year run. We stuck with the show through its shuffle on the schedule and while the rest of the world was watching the opening ceremony of the 2006 Olympics, we were watching as FOX burned off the final 4 episodes of the show. We bought the DVDs, loaned them to friends, and annoyed people by quoting the show.
And we waited.
After years of rumors, it was announced in 2011 that not only would there be an Arrested Development movie (as many had been clamoring for), but that there would also be new episodes that would air on Netflix. This seemed almost too good to be true. Would all the actors sign on? Would there be a script? Would their best laid plans fall apart?
Yesterday there were some positive developments. It was confirmed that the entire original cast is under contract and production has begun on the 10 episodes, which will air in 2013 and be followed by the movie. While one shouldn’t count their episodes before they air, it is exciting to think that the wheels are in motion. Hopefully they can recapture the same magic that they had during the original run.
The downside of this phenomenon is that it gives false hope to the fans of other canceled shows. For every show that is resurrected, hundreds more will never see the light of day again. 99% of the time a show that is canceled stays canceled. There is probably never going to be a Veronica Mars movie and the Dillon Panthers have probably played their last football game on Friday night. But every once in a while a show beats the odds. So keep the faith. There’s always money in the banana stand. 🙂