Monarch of the Banana Stand

Arrested Development - Season One

Arrest­ed Devel­op­ment: Sea­son One on DVD or at Net­flix.

Well, no soon­er did I get my first disc of Arrest­ed Devel­op­ment from Net­flix than Fox announced they planned to can­cel the series. I sup­pose it’s been hang­ing by a thin thread all along any­how, but I feel a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ed after I fig­ured out what so many peo­ple had already said: it is real­ly a great show.

After watch­ing the first six episodes, I can’t help but think of it as a sort of Amer­i­can­ized ver­sion of anoth­er one of my favorite series, the BBC’s Monarch of the Glen (which, in turn, seemed a bit like a Scot­tish North­ern Expor­sure). Monarch is the sto­ry of a unwill­ing sec­ond son who comes to save his boy­hood home and fam­i­ly estate upon return­ing as a grown man. He comes to terms with his eccen­tric fam­i­ly, proves to be a savvy busi­ness man and com­mu­ni­ty leader, and even finds love (in the char­ac­ter of Lexy, played by the remark­ably hot Dawn Steele).

Arrest­ed devel­op­ment is the some­what sim­i­lar sto­ry of unwill­ing sec­ond son who steps in to run the fam­i­ly busi­ness after Dad is tak­en away to jail and they lose every­thing. Jason Bate­man plays a won­der­ful heavy named Michael Bluthe in a cast of com­plete­ly absurd Amer­i­can aris­to­crats. It seems that even well-mean­ing Michael can’t save this fam­i­ly from their own inep­ti­tude. Sure, some of the jokes are a lit­tle crude, but there’s some­thing of a charm­ing inno­cence about it that comes from the char­ac­ter’s com­plete clue­less­ness about just how bad their sit­u­a­tion is. That, and the fact that Ron Howard (exec­u­tive pro­duc­er) nar­rates the show (Lil’ Oppie Cun­ning­ham can add instant inno­cence to anything).

I do find the show some­what poor­ly edit­ed, though. The jumps in plot lines seem real­ly con­fus­ing, albeit for­giv­able since it’s the humor your in for, not intri­cate dra­ma. Watch­ing some of the delet­ed scenes real­ly made me real­ize this, as in when I final­ly fig­ured out why Michael actu­al­ly want­ed to find the records for the com­pa­ny jet in the first place. I guess the edi­tors just assumed we real­ly would­n’t care, since it’s not as thought Michael was ever going to get them any­way. I just chalk it up to more of the show’s quirkiness.

Sad­ly, the show’s quirk­i­ness and charm could­n’t save it from get­ting the ax at Fox. I sup­pose it is all about the rat­ings, but shows like Arrest­ed Devel­op­ment, Fire­fly, and Monarch of the Glen all make me wish that stu­dios would just cre­ate direct to DVD pro­duc­tion of hasti­ly can­celed series.

Call­ing Mark Cuban… I see a busi­ness plan, here.

Update: Well, appar­ent­ly LostRemote has some very inter­est­ing ideas, although they still might need some guy like Cuban to put up some cash (via The Long Tail).

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