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Horrific 'Development'

By Jessica Mathews
The Do's and Don't's
of Saving 'Arrested Development'

Brent Sallay’s Guide to Coping With the Potentially Not-So-Impending Demise of the Greatest Television Show of All Time
    If you’re anything like me, your initial reaction to hearing that FOX had cut AD’s episode count was instant paralysis. I could not physically move for four hours. But eventually, I got back my strength and sought to do the same thing I had done six hours earlier after accidentally swallowing a whole can of paint—I looked on the Internet for solutions to my problem.  
    DON’T give up hope! The show is not officially cancelled. Several sources have stated that a cut in the episode order is “usually a sure sign of cancellation,” which many fans have misinterpreted. These are just rumors, and there is still plenty you can do to stop FOX from making a mistake.  
    DON’T be a college student. College students don’t watch television or buy things. Consider joining a new demographic, such as Nielsen family
or Republican.
    DO buy the 1st and 2nd season DVDs as Christmas presents for loved ones. Remember, DVD sales were enough for FOX to bring back “Family Guy.” As of my writing, both DVDs have jumped from being in the 30s and 50s to no. 1 and 2 on’s top sales list. That’s a good start. Plus, it’s a sure way to bring new fans to the show.  
    DON’T bother with online petitions or with calling or emailing FOX. Those gestures are too easy to ignore.
    DO send letters, congest FOX’s message boards, and visit sites like,, and to find more productive ways to show FOX just how big this bee in its bonnet is.

    DON’T be a grumpy gus. Declaring a jihad on FOX executives or disguising swear words with clever punctuation so you can say p/0/0-head on FOX’s message board is not really as clever as you think.
    DO get as many people as you can to watch the new episodes that air on Dec. 5. While most of them won’t be Nielsen families, if everyone does this, some of them will be. Remember, this is not like a presidential election in Utah. Your vote might actually count this time. And unlike politics, this might actually affect your life.  
brent [at]

On Nov. 10, a horrible thing happened: FOX announced it was taking “Arrested Development” off the air until Dec. 5 and would not expand its order for the third season beyond the 13 episodes already in production. This would seem to spell out the end for the greatest show on television.

The news should come as no surprise—the series has been on the verge of cancellation since its first season. But somehow, this threat stings the most. After airing only five episodes in and out of baseball preemption and never listing the show on its “American Idol”-heavy January schedule, FOX seems to have not even wanted the third season to begin with.

That’s unfortunate, because “Arrested Development” shows no signs of running out of ideas. Given the frantic pace of each episode, a continually building collection of subtle running gags and the ever-changing interests and schemes of the Bluth family members, it is no small feat that the show is still in top form.

This season, the writers have come up with new adventures for the maladjusted assortment of misfit heirs to a now broke and under-investigation real-estate company. There are true gems like the “Wee Britain” section of Orange County, where traffic must suddenly shift to the other side of the road, and the “Church and State Fair,” where there are two very different “scared straight” tents. The show’s handheld, documentary style only makes for a more surreal Southern California, where you can hire Andy Griffith or “L.A. Law’s” Harry Hamlin to stand in court with you (they get paid more if they whisper in your ear).

Of course none of this would work without the right cast. Charlize Theron’s five-episode run as a spying or mentally disabled—or both—Brit has been a great story line for Jason Bateman’s straight man, Michael, and has added some bold James Bondesque musical interludes. Theron’s last episode will air when the show returns on Dec. 5.

Will Arnett has been better than ever this season, continuing his role as G.O.B., the womanizing faltering magician. In the first episode this season, G.O.B. discovered he had fathered a son in high school. His son is now a high school football player whom regular viewers will remember as Maeby’s former crush Steve Holt! (punctuation necessary). Arnett’s combined reaction of denial and avoidance with guilt, fear and jealousy proves how well he has mastered his character.

Meanwhile, patriarch George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) has been placed under house arrest and is now under his wife’s control. (“There you just had to shut your eyes and take it, here you have to shut your eyes and give it.”) Their daughter, Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), has developed an interest in the new family lawyer Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio), the replacement for fellow “Happy Days” alum Henry Winkler (Loblaw can skew younger). Plus, the situation between cousins George Michael and Maeby has become even more confusing—and it had even before the addition of new cousin Steve Holt.

It would be a shame for FOX to take its best show off the air while the “War at Home,” “Stacked,” and a Topher Grace-less “That 70s Show” enjoy a creativity-free existence. But now is not the time to give up hope completely. The show has managed to survive thus far because of awards and critical accolades. And with another Best Comedy Emmy a strong possibility this year, FOX might hold out on officially dropping the axe until it knows for sure. Until then, if you love this show as much as I do, find out a way to let FOX, other potential fans and other potential networks know.

jessica [at]


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