Friday, November 11, 2005

And Still, "According to Jim" Lives On...

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke

I'm depressed. I just found out that "Arrested Development," my favorite new TV show of, oh, the past 10 years or so, is being thrown on the trash heap. It hasn't been cancelled, but Fox didn't "pick up the back 9" episodes for a full season. They only bought 13 episodes. That is not a good sign for a show. Ever ever ever.

This is an amazing show. I could sing its praises endlessly. It has a terrifically talented cast, including Jason Batemen, Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross. And the writing! Oh my God, how great is the writing!

I decided last year that I wanted to write a spec script. "Spec" means that you will never earn a dime, or "speck" of money for writing it. No! That's not true. It's speculative: you write an episode of an existing show to showcase your writing ability, with virtually no prospect of it being sold or shot.

I decided that I wanted to write an episode of "Arrested Development." It's a structurally complicated show, with multiple plotlines that tie together. I could have picked an easier show to try to write, but I just love Arrested Development, I love the characters. If I can write a decent spec script for AD, I reasoned, then I can write an episode of a simpler show.

Anyway. Fox, in their infinite wisdom, decided to take the Emmy award-winning AD off of Sunday night, where Fox is usually strong (Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle). Where did they put it? Monday night. Opposite Monday Night Football. Did they promote the show? Not much. And they certainly didn't give it the kind of promotion that say, NBC has given to "My Name is Earl," or CBS has thrown at "How I met Your Mother." Please. Fox said, "If you can build an audience, we'll place the full order." Then Fox put it in a position where it was near to impossible to build the requisite audience numbers, especially with weak promotion.

Meanwhile, what shows does FOX hang their hat on? How about "Skating with Celebrities?" Or "Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy?" Oh. My. God.

And People! People. This is what kills me, breaks my heart. "According to Jim" lives on. This awful, painfully common, excruciatingly trite piece of shit sitcom is back for its fifth season. Fifth!

I will not bring a child into a world where Arrested Development gets the axe while "According to Jim" comes back for a fifth season.

(Sidebar: I have to wonder what incredibly odious act Courtney Thorne-Smith committed in a previous life to deserve the karmic destiny of not only co-starring in a dogshit sitcom with Jim Belushi, but a long-running dogshit sitcom to boot.)

Shows very rarely get reprieves, but it can happen. The most notable example of this occurred this past season on Fox. Fox cancelled "The Family Guy" in 2002, but brought it back in 2005 due to viewer interest and more importantly, strong DVD sales.

So I say to you: watch the show while it's still on. Buy the DVD's. Write to Fox, write to your congressman. Together, maybe we can make a difference.


At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Never Nude, this show has really touched me. Perhaps they should put it on in the afternoon as an after school special. There is so little attention given to Never Nudes, while people waste their time on discussing topics such as anorexia and drug use and other "problems". The only other program I have seen address this problem was The Dukes of Hazzard. Of course, they never came out and said it was about Never Nudes, but I could tell.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger terry said...

i am SO with you on this one.... AD is the best show on TV.

my life will be a little sadder, if there's no more bob loblaw.

At 7:51 PM, Blogger haji-o-matic said...

TV??? what is TV?

At 3:42 PM, Blogger 'nilla said...

I will not bring a child into a world where Arrested Development gets the axe while "According to Jim" comes back for a fifth season.


At 11:24 PM, Anonymous GeekLove said...

Oh, you *KNOW* we're getting the DVDs as soon as their released! It's a goddamn travesty, no doubt about it. The Geek and I decided that probably most people just don't get the humor because you have to -- shall we say -- think to get the jokes sometimes.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger julie said...

I have a friend who worked for the company who does the tv ratings and apparently it's all crap. Ratings are based on only about 10,000 homes in the US. And the sample isn't even random. It's no wonder intelligent shows get cancelled and ignorant shows press on.

At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Jim Belushi much better than John Belushi. Please don't remove my post. Isn't the idea of blogging to let people communicate freely?

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Ish said...

Dear Anon,

I have deleted your post and a number like them, for various reasons. In this case (like many others) I thought your comment was off-topic and fatuous.

Blogging is about communication, true. But you have no right to post whatever you want here; I am under no obligation to let you.

If you truly care about Jim Belushi, and think he's more talented than John Belushi was, fine. I stand corrected.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Juliet said...

i'm a neilson household and avid fan of a.d. and a lot of other good shows that get canned. i don't think neilsen has anything to do with what makes it and what doesn't, i think it's all about making the advertisers happy (whether or not they're intelligent).

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Ish said...

Juliet - I'm curious, how does Neilson track what you watch? What if you Tivo a show? Or only watch a part of it - does that count?

I understand about the advertisers, but don't they want to get their product in front of the right consumers? What other way do they have of evaluating this than Neilson data?

As I said, part of my beef is with how Fox has (not) promoted the show. So many less worthy shows get flogged to death, and great shows like AD are an afterthought.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Amy said...

I love AD too, and have been very frustrated to have Tivo'ed it and it's never on anymore. I keep thinking there's something wrong with the DVR not recording the episodes. Feh!

I love the the whole Ann/George Michael/Maybe dynamic. The whole show is brilliant.

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fox murdered my favorite show, too. Firefly! They showed the episodes out of order, pre-empted some shows for sports events, then cancelled the show for poor ratings, with three episodes never aired. Its producer Joss Whedon said that he would never deal with Fox again.


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