|Look at Season, Michael!
||[Mar. 30th, 2009|02:22 pm]
This has been brewing in my head for a while, and I was too lazy to write it, and figured that it would interest no one. But then I realized, where better to publish something that no one cares about than a blog?|
If you haven't watched Arrested Development in its entirety, click away.
I like Arrested Development a lot. I think the first season is brilliant for its timing, its pace and ridiculous characters. Season 2 was less impressive to me, but it was still really enjoyable. Both seasons hold up nicely over time.
I'm pretty sure that I've come to the conclusion that the third season is just plain bad. Or maybe the first half of the third season is decent, but once the producers knew they were getting canceled, they went kind of crazy and sacrificed the integrity and creativity of the show. The show ends with a series of plot points that highlight the producers' off-camera business relationship with FOX, and inside jokes and references to previous seasons' jokes and gags. I realized the last time I watched the season that it feels very much to me like the desperate end to some improv shows. Quickly throwing call-backs and references at the audience to get a knee-jerk laugh reaction, trying to find the one that gets the laugh big enough to end the show.
Arrested Development did this sort of self-indulgent self-referencing so much towards the end, that I was distracted. When I watched it for the first time, I remember laughing. After a few years, it doesn't hold up to repeated viewings at all. I'm trying to remember specific examples, but there were a lot of jokes/gags they did specifically because they mirrored jokes that were in the first season (I'll add a list if I can make the effort to watch Season 3 again.) But in the new context, they weren't funny at all. It was as if the writers were saying "Hey, remember when you laughed at this thing before? Well here it is again with a different character. Please laugh." But in the new context it wasn't funny at all.
They also went crazy with celebrity cameos. Celebrities like...William Hung. They tried to justify it with some sort of hipster-ironic "Look, we're getting stupid celebrities on TV. Isn't it so stupid when shows do that?" But the fact remains...they were doing exactly what they were parodying. And just a few years later, I watch the show and have to process who this person is and why they're on the show. They basically dated themselves horribly for the sake of a really weak gag. Now, to their credit, their use of Burger King in half of an episode, all while talking about selling out and featuring a sponsor's product in a TV show, was a much more creative and amusing take on a similar idea. That landed much better for some reason.
Their increasingly bitter shots at FOX for canceling them just became far too self-aware and pulled me out of the show every time. Like when Michael was talking about being acquired by the Home Builders Organization. "HBO? No, they won't touch us." Jokes like that made me chuckle a little, but ultimately just felt like mean gallows humor. I guess my main problem with the season is that it felt like it became *about* being canceled, rather than just having that as a secondary plot.
This doesn't give me much hope for the possible Arrested Development movie.