By now, you've heard volumes about how Arrested Development is one of the most brilliant, funny and original shows to get on TV. All of it is true.
Rare is the show that provokes gales of laughter, giggles and sheer pee-in-your-pants moments episode upon episode. But despite Emmys, Golden Globes and other accolades stacking up like so much cordwood, all of that hilarity has been lost on much of America, save for 6 million or so loyal viewers.
To its credit, Fox brought the ratings-starved show back for another season, realizing a laugh-trackless comedy that used handheld cameras to track multiple plotlines in 22 minutes needed time to grow. The network moved it to 8:30 on Sundays, to benefit from The Simpsons lead-in. It hasn't worked.
The Nielsens are still in the Dumpster, and now the ides of May are coming to haunt A.D. Instead of finishing the season in a blaze of glory during sweeps, only 18 episodes instead of 22 were ordered. In comes American Dad, the lots-of-potential cartoon that did well after the Super Bowl.
Could Fox be ready to proclaim a bold experiment has failed, and that two seasons was a good-faith effort to reverse fortunes? Could be. But such a move would be horribly short-sighted, given the hole Fox is in from 8-9 p.m. ET going up against Cold Case and Extreme Home Makeover.
Beyond the need to counter-program, sticking with A.D. can demonstrate to top Hollywood talent it's committed to trying something new beyond the standard sitcom, a format with which it has generally failed miserably at since Married With Children (to the extent the show can be considered a success).
Having A.D. top honchos Ron Howard (also the show's narrator) and Brian Grazer of Imagine in your camp might go a long way toward getting first looks from other film types looking to mine video gold. And there's no doubt that A.D. has stuck around for as long as it has, in part, by wanting to stay in the good graces of Howard and Grazer. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
At the very least, if Fox gives the heave-ho, let's hope a network like HBO or Showtime will keep A.D. from being on the next installment of Brilliant But Cancelled, and not just so we can hear the curse words Fox bleeps out. A.D. would also be right at home on Bravo or A&E. Would more people watch Growing Up Gotti than A.D.? OK, don't answer that.
For now, just watch and laugh. A lot.
And if you'd like to get your one-and-a-half cents in to save the show, an online petition has been started at http://hoos.a-girlthing.com/.
If you've never been goaded by a friend or relative to watch Arrested Development, here's more on what the fuss is all about:
A visit to the Fox Arrested Development site is worthwhile, not just for the many interactive features, but for a note from the network insisting that the show has not been canceled and that they "love" Arrested Development. But Fox says what it would really like is for more Nielsen families to start feeling the same way.http://www.fox.com/arresteddev/