Monday, October 10, 2011

Shows: No Restraint

Where does one find the good sense to leave well enough alone? To quit while ahead? When it comes to producing television shows, I guess the answer is – one doesn’t. What I’m alluding to is the renewal of Arrested Development, which will include a new season and a film adaptation. And, yes, ostensibly it’s very exciting news (I had to pop a fistful of Teamocil when I first found out) but when you think about it, efforts to reprise a bygone series rarely end well. The show risks becoming a parody of its former self; with a parade of tired gags (chicken dance), guest reappearances, and winks to the audience. It’s like burying something cherished in a Pet Cemetery with the hope that the resurrected abomination will be as wonderful as you remember it – but that’s never the case, they come back homicidal, or even worse - not funny.

It brings to mind another favorite show, Absolutely Fabulous, which also concluded (briefly) after three perfect seasons. Then, what I imagine was an intoxicating cloud of greed and nostalgia, convinced the powers that be to dredge the show up for a few uninspired made-for-TV movies (the first of which was insincerely titled “The Last Shout”) and two totally forgettable additional seasons. I mean, it was nice to see them again – but their vibrancy had waned, their sweeties soured, their champagne and vodka cocktails had gone flat. Now, lo and behold, Joanne Lumley (Patsy Stone) is saying that the show will return for a few additional episodes. But why, darling?!

A friend of mine has a grisly expression to describe beating a dead horse to this extent: dead horse pudding.

Maybe overindulgence should be expected from AbFab, but it is downright profane that Roseanne Barr is developing a show that will sort-of bring the Conner family back to the air (a show that arguably overstayed its welcome in its first iteration, i.e. winning the lottery). The premise of the new sitcom Downwardly Mobile is a blue-collar family fighting to make ends meet – sounds familiar, right? Roseanne’s stance is that her eponymous series’ groundbreaking message - that there is inherent nobility in the working class struggle - is more relevant now than ever. And I wholeheartedly agree, but why water down the legacy of the original show, something that is widely considered one of the most important in the sitcom medium, with a new show that will probably be a pale reproduction? Besides, it’s not as if they ever stopped broadcasting her message. Roseanne has been airing in syndication on a half dozen different channels, often simultaneously, since the show ended its network run fifteen years ago.

The thing is, whatever ground these shows might break was long ago broken, and it has been tilled up, fertilized, and is growing a fresh crop of derivative young series.  I suppose that we should be resigned to the fact that the entertainment industry will squeeze every ounce of life out of any successful idea.  Let’s just kick back, relax, and wait patiently for the library to get a copy of Sex and the City Eight: Dead Horse Pudding.

Ransom - Reference

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