Thank you, Arrested Development, Thank You…

Arrested DevelopmentDear Arrested Development,

I don’t usually write letters to TV shows. It is not in my nature to fawn over things (especially TV shows). I mean, come on!, do you see the stuff on TV these days???

It is a part-time job to find something that isn’t mind-numbing painful. It could almost be said in today’s culture- you go to school to be educated, you go to TV to lose it.

Okay, a lot of people who have blogs or write on entertainment like to focus on the negative. It’s not surprising really, it is easier to write negative than positive. I mean, how many different ways can you say good? Seriously, I’m sure if you were to weigh the word options between good and bad, good would be this little pile and bad would be this giant memorial to insults.

Where was I?

Okay, I am rambling. I am nervous. I’m like a teenager on a first date trying to make the person in the passenger seat of the car laugh. But the fact is, honestly, I am fawning, because the fourth season of your show is a piece of genius.

No, I’m not being kind. It is complete genius, an unbroken whole of genius. The fact it is a TV show (Could a show on Netflix still be called a TV show, honestly? I mean, I feel like it should have its own distinction, especially when Arrested Development and House of Cards are reaching this calibre of work), well, I am floored.

When it was announced that you were coming back, I felt like an old boyfriend hearing that an old flame might be at a party. Would she remember me? Would it be awkward? Would it be as great as it once was.

Okay, I am bringing up dating metaphors again. I need to take a breath.

Do you know why I like you Arrested Development? You don’t treat me like I am an idiot. See, so much of Television does. I know I kind of said this at the beginning, but it is very, very true. They all think I’m stupid, but you don’t, do you? Heck, did you know the biggest show on the Animal Planet was a fake documentary on Mermaids.


That says a lot about television, and also, frankly, about us as a culture and it saddens me. I remember once I was watching Animal Planet and they had a show on about an exorcism and they were trying to drive this demon out of a woman’s backyard. No one asked the big questions that were bothering me.

  1. Why does everyone (film crew to host) think it is okay for this heavy-set older woman to think a demon is living in her backyard? Did anyone recommend a psychiatrist? A demon in her backyard? An immortal evil creature hanging out by her green plastic picnic table? Seriously? That is a normal concept? No, ticket to crazy town? Are you sure?
  2. If there were such a thing as demons (which I highly doubt), why would it be there? Am I missing something? I don’t like to be a snob or judge or anything, but her trailer house near the highway does not seem like the ideal location to lead a major coup against the forces of good. Again, call me a snob, but I don’t see it.
  3. The station’s name is Animal Planet! It is about the real world (planet) and actual living creature (animals). So in having a show about an invisible demon haunting a woman’s backyard near her dandelions, doesn’t that give the audience the illusion that you are saying to the public that they are real. As real as cheetahs, cute puppies, and alligators. Come on!

Deep breath…

I am seriously rambling, but it is not surprising, because I think the fourth season is the best season of Arrested Development, possibly the most creative undertaking I have seen in the world of comedy in quite some time. Reminding me of that feeling when I first discovered Monty Python’s Flying Circus on PBS one late night.

There, I said it.

You AD rocks. (Can I call  you AD? Is that okay? And I know saying it rocks sounds lame, but I mean it… from my heart).

The writing around AD has always assumed the audience is smart and pays attention, and in the fourth season it is so tightly wound around this assumption it is almost hard to breathe. No one watching this season of AD is doing it in some kind of a haze. No, you need to be focused, sitting forward. See, the season, as compared to the previous seasons, focuses on one character each episode and all of the episodes are tied together. Pay attention! One small thing in one episode might mean something later on. This is a comedy for smarty pants. And I am a proud owner of smarty pants.

Oh, did I mention there is character growth? Actual freaking character growth! Tony Soprano didn’t have character growth in all of the years of his overly hyped show, but here we get it in spades as each of the character grow and change and learn and unlearn again and again. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they grow to good, but they do grow and change. You get what I’m saying. They are like real people!

(Honestly, I hope there aren’t real people like most of AD…. More honestly, there probably are a lot of real people like the AD characters…. Even more honestly, I might know people like these characters.)

Mystery Science Theater 3000!!! 

Mystery Science Theater 3000I’m sorry, I just shouted that at you. But you brought back MST3K. You actual have new dialogue spoken by Joel and Crow T. Robot. The teenage boy that used to collect the episodes on his VCR is swimming with glee over that. Granted, it was just a few minutes, but you pulled off the impossible. We MSTies have dreamed for years about the show coming back and there is all of this feuding going on around the creative minds behind it (with their own sides and enterprises)… and you did it! You wonderful little AD, you brought back one of my other favorite shows for only a few wonderful perfect minutes.

There is an actual tear on my face. Just a second.

While I have your attention AD, can I say something to Netflix? Netflix, thank you for trusting the writer to do what is right for his show and allowing his talent and creation to grow and thrive better than it ever did on network television. You (like with the BBC and its shows, and AMC with Mad Men and HBO with everything else) have again shown the world how network television is nothing compared to the work being down on the outskirts of the cable dial.  And frankly, in my opinion, it all comes down to respect for the writer. Thank you.

Oh, AD, when I heard you were coming back for a few episodes on Netflix, I thought this might be a final goodbye. A goodbye to Michael and George Michael and Gob and Tobias and everyone, but now… No, I want more seasons. I want more. Clearly, you are hitting your stride. You can’t stop now! You are totally rocking it. (Sorry, that is lame.)

Thank you AD. You are the best and I think I love you. I know it is soon, your fourth season just came out and all but… I think we can all make this work. Please, please don’t go away again.


Scott Southard

P.S. The Tobias episode (5) was great… Oh, the Gob one (7) was even better… and…

If you liked reading my article, why not check out some of my published books? I’ve had three novels published in the last few years, the new A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare (coming June 11), My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my author page here, or Doors and Megan as an eBook on Google eBooks here. Thanks for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Thank you, Arrested Development, Thank You…

  1. I am completely in love with the episodes as well, and cannot even begin to express how happy I am with what they did. My favorite of all was probably the Buster episode, they were all great, but Baby Buster always gets to me.

  2. Excellent! I haven’t started the fourth season yet, but I am happy to hear that it exceeds expectations.

    I was also excited to see, while browsing through the episode list, that since it wasn’t created for broadcast TV, they threw traditional timeslot lengths out the window, ending up with episodes of 29, 32, or even 37 minutes!

  3. OMG! AD is probably the greatest sitcom ever written. I can’t wait to see the new episodes. The fact that Netflix had faith in this wonderful comedy is incredible. I totally agree with you that the best writing is on cable TV. No one wants to make a movie that’s anything less than an action/adventure blockbuster. Consequently, the fantastic writers who couldn’t get a movie made, went to TV.

    Another piece of good news in the same vein is that Rob Thomas’s “Veronica Mars” series is being made into a movie, funded solely by a compaign lauched via Kickstarter and paid for by fans.

    • The episodes also are just long enough, which means things are not cut for a commercial break. An episode might be 28 minutes or 37 minutes in length. It’s all about story and the characters. You are going to love the new season!

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