Monday, April 18, 2005

The Best Show on TV Can't Get "Arrested" By Nielsen

A bittersweet night on Fox yesterday, when the season (and please let it be just that) finale of "Arrested Development" aired.

The show was its usual hilarious self, but I couldn't help but be a bit wistful given that Fox hasn't decided whether "A.D." will be back for another go-round this fall. Right now, it's not looking good for the 6 million or so of us hopelessly devoted to the misadventures of the hapless Bluth clan.

Sure, the show's won three Emmys and a Golden Globe, yet it's caught in a time-slot purgatory and a lead-in from "The Simpsons" that doesn't deliver up enough devotees.

Fox launched a kill-the-show-in-order-to-save-it approach to A.D., cutting the 22-episode season order to 18. Then network big cheese Gail Berman said she was doing the show a favor so it wouldn't have even lower ratings during May sweeps. Gee, thanks, Gail. Sort of.

Fox says it doesn't want to deep-six "A.D.," so now it wants listeners to left-click their sentiments at in order for us to show proper fealty and get others of like mind to follow suit. Hey, whatever it takes, I'm on board. Barring that, I'm sure HBO wouldn't have a hard time finding a slot given that most of their shows are signing off or withering on the vine.

Which brings me to Kansas City Star TV critic Aaron Barnhart, whom I'm normally a big fan of. In his latest column posted on his TV Barn blog,, Barnhart regrettably regards "A.D." as overpraised.

"Arrested Development” is a likable if not quite lovable program, solidly entertaining but more in the league of “Scrubs” than of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the two shows I think it would like to be when it grows up.

Ouch, Mr. B. I'm actually a big "Scrubs" fan, too. Dunno, but all the abusurdities, parodies, in-jokes and irony that pile up there and on "A.D." provide a good chunk of the laughs I'm able to dredge up on the network schedules (Cable is a whole different animal).

Giving the network credit for putting the show on the air in the first place and keeping it on the air despite mediocre ratings is no longer enough. Can Fox do better in "A.D.'s" time slot? Of course not. Does it matter? Ditto.

It's usually simpler to cancel a show rather than figure out how it can find an audience. How nice it would be for the gang in Murdochville to not take the easy way out.

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