Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It Will Be...Arrested Development

The inevitable was formally announced today--Arrested Development is coming back.

Of course, we knew it all along, what with them announcing the filming and all, but given how long us fans have been promised new episodes it's only prudent to wait until something concrete emerged before we started celebrating. Even now, once waits with a little bit of hesitation until that iconic ukulele starts playing in May of this year.

For those that don't know, Arrested Development was a sitcom from a few years ago. It won all sorts of awards, including a few Emmys, but no one watched. No one. It gained new life with a rapid fan base and an insatiable appetite for the DVD set, enough that creator Mitchell Hurwitz got enough support to start it up anew. It hobbled between being a movie and a new season until--as it turns out--they're going to do both.

Even the announcement causes some concern; each of the episodes will focus on only one character, as most of the episodes run more or less simultaneously with one another. This is a departure from the series which followed a reasonably conventional style. Still, most people trust the cast and writers enough to not change the formula too much.

One certainly has to pause and wonder if this is, in fact, the future of popular culture. Arrested Development wasn't the first TV show brought back from the dead--Family Guy was probably the first to accomplish that feat--but it's certainly one of the more well-know. The manner in which it's coming back--all of the new episodes are going to be released on Netflix in one day--is another new angle. It's not even coming on a network; any Netflix subscriber will have immediate access to it. No doubt Netflix will use this to buoy their other original programming as they try and become a powerhouse in media.

This entire cycle of creativity is new. We not only have dirt-cheap DVDs bringing dead series back to life and DVRs to make viewing more convenient  we have streaming media as the way we go about viewing it. The internet and fans putting money behind their enjoyment of the product has created something that even ten years ago was impossible. With Netflix and Amazon starting their own creative original content channels, it joins the already-crowded domain of cable and broadcast entertainment. While it's certainly good for the customer, one has to wonder if there's a tipping point of volume; too much new content might make none of the ventures succeed. One solution, of course, is to have patience; gone may be the days of cancelling a show after two mediocre airings when newly formed habits just need to get people around to watching it.

It's not certain if this is, indeed, the future. No doubt the elements that work will survive and the parts that don't will get pushed aside. For now, fans of niche programming should enjoy it while they can.

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