I would have felt very stupid about that decision had the episodes not lived up to billing, but they did. I was not fond of the last episode before Friday's, which was something of a wank-fest parodying the struggle to keep the show on the air. I was afraid that the last four episodes would completely follow this formula, entirely abandoning all the storylines and leaving me wanting, much like the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion. But they didn't; they really tied things up and brought everything to a nice conclusion.
Unfortunately, it really does seem like a conclusion: from what I've read on GorillaMask, the show is 80/20 not coming back on Showtime or ABC. What the hell would ABC do with it anyway? I somehow doubt the network that brought us Hangin' With Mr. Cooper would have a nice place in their schedule for Arrested Development. It wouldn't exactly work in syndication between 7th Heaven and Smallville on ABC Family. Anyway, I would almost prefer that they end it now just so that they don't spoil the legacy, which is just like how I almost wish the Arcade Fire would break up before putting out another album.
I've been wrapped up for a long time in telling people how great the show is, to the point that I've never bothered to really think about why people might not like it. People often bandy around really pretentious explanations like how it's too cumulative, and how it's just too smart for the masses. These last few days, I've done a little bit of reading of the many TV journalists' eulogies for the show, and the criticisms they've listed do seem valid.
- The characters don't change much, although I'd always thought that that was a strength of the show, because too often on TV I feel that characters gravitate towards some sort of diluted, mature, weak-tea-and-plain-oatmeal version of their older, funnier selves.
- The show was "all head and no heart". The characters were seriously unlikeable (minus Michael and George Michael, I'd say -- although George Michael's lusting for his cousin is certainly going to be unpalatable to many) and, since they never changed, they stayed unlikeable. They were also out-there enough that you weren't going to relate to many of them. As someone on USA Today said, this doesn't work because TV watchers want to really feel for their characters as well as like them, as opposed to wanting them to get kicked in the balls (GOB) or bitch-slapped (Lucille). (The Office's David Brent probably wouldn't work either, as I personally both felt for him and hated him, which is far worse. From what I've seen of the US version, Michael Scott is infinitely more likeable.)
- It depended heavily on in-jokes, from all the stunt casting to the constant digging-up of old material.
Even though I can see all of this, the show was just such a great kick in the pants that I didn't bother to think about any of that. I guess I'm all head and no heart too.
And now the show is probably gone forever. If I had a heart, I might feel a little sad. My head, though, is only thinking about buying the DVDs and hoping that Will Arnett doesn't become overexposed.
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