"Arrested Development" Almost Gets Sent Up The River: But First, A Send-up

Your show has been pulled from the November sweeps--which equates to a near-death experience for any TV producer. What to do? Perhaps poke fun at the network that did the dirty deed.

Mitch Hurwitz, Fox's Emmy-winning "Arrested Development creator, has something like that planned; he's ready to produce an episode called "Save Our Bluths"--otherwise called "S.O.Bs,"according to Daily Variety.

In the episode, the Bluths try to save their fictional construction company--and wonder whether the Home Builders Organization--HBO--might want to save them. But when the idea is canned, George Bluth Sr. says: "I guess it's Showtime. We'll put on some kind of show at the dinner."

"Arrested Development" has never been a mass-appeal show--which TV business insiders and critics have known for some time. Thus this retort from the Jason Bateman character: "We've had plenty of chances. Maybe the Bluths just aren't worth saving. Maybe we're just not that likable. Who'd want to spend a half-hour with us if they didn't have to?"



Yes. We get it. But how many other viewers will? The average TV viewer is a bit more sophisticated these days. Regular viewers may have heard of the term "sweeps," "pilot," and, surely, "hiatus."

But this kind of episode is like playing a Beatles record backwards--witty and mythical for media historians. But there's little else. "Arrested Development" isn't quite the Beatles. Maybe just The Kinks.

It isn't quite over, as the show still goes on. Fox trimmed back future production on the number of episodes to 13.

Hurwitz blames the show's problems on what every TV producer on earth, including recently the folks at David E. Kelley Productions for "Boston Legal," says--that the show didn't get enough marketing support. But unlike "Legal" and other shows, "Arrested" isn't your usual mainstream comedy. The show's sly wit has always been tough to communicate in short 10-second or 15-second promos.

Perhaps Fox should play to the inside joke in some last-try marketing. Tell everyone in a satirical promo that unless you, the viewer, start watching, Fox is going to send the Bluths, and the actors who play them, to the unemployment line--or to work in a Venice Beach frozen banana stand.

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