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Arresting Developments

March 29, 2012

I’m sure this is not a venue for particularly breaking news about anything, let alone the Arrested Development movie. For example, you may have already known that  the nine or ten episodes planned to hit Netflix prior to the movie’s release are actually episodes following the main characters’ paths in the time period between the show’s finale and the movie itself. However, my podcast obsession may have given me a slightly early hint at what might be in store in the movie itself; specifically, in the latest episode of WTF with Marc Maron, Michael Cera indicated that the movie might take place in “real time” relative to when the show ended in 2006. So that means the characters would have aged six or seven years by the time the episodes air and the movie gets released. Pretty ballsy, but then again, what show could accomplish it if not Arrested Development. Also, it would be pretty tough to imagine George Michael as a 12 year old, regardless of how much of an immortal/vampiric babyface Cera is.

And in other Arrested Development news, fans of Justin Grant Wade (aka Steve Holt!) have started a “Save Steve Holt!” online movement (though movement may be a bit strong of a word given that nobody involved has probably moved away from their keyboard in enlisting). Citing the fact that Wade has not been contacted about reprising his role as Steve Holt! (I think the exclamation point is on his birth certificate), the fans infer that there aren’t yet plans to include this Bluth in the family reunion. And if that last sentence was a spoiler, shame on you.

As much as I liked the character arc of Steve Holt!, and as much as I think it would be frivolously easy to throw him into a background scene as an Easter egg if nothing else, I do somewhat resent the presumptuousness of the fans that think they should have any creative say in how the show gets reinstated. If anything, I think Arrested Development is the paradigmatic example of a situation where studios should just leave the creativity to the creative people and leave them the fuck alone. Such was the approach that led to every classically great work of art prior to the industrial revolution; you had benign patrons who allowed the creative juices to flow without the need for studio “notes” or standards and practices (though the inherent threat of execution at displeasing a monarch may have been an implicit form of note-giving, I suppose–those who would roil the throne simply had to be more artful in doing so, or risk exile).

That’s part of why I’m excited that Netflix has adopted the role of benign patron for Arrested Development. Netflix now provides yet another method of circumventing the studios’ control over creative productions, in the same way that Louie C.K. and now Aziz Ansari have taken their work straight to the fans without intermediation. The more power and the means of production and distribution are dispersed, the more art can stay true to the original creative vision, no matter how specific or unpopular that vision may be. By simply bypassing those who occupy positions of censorship, art is better distributed. For yet another example, “Bully” is being released by the Weinsteins without a rating by the MPAA in the face of the ridiculous decision/threat to give it an ‘R’ rating for the use of profanity uttered by minors and which was uncoincidentally the whole point of the movie (and bravo to AMC Theaters for allowing kids to enter with permission slips from their parents).

That being said, and in all fairness to the movie studios, when you’re pouring millions of dollars into an investment, it makes sense to try and be sure that what you’re making is going to recoup an investment. See, e.g., John Carter and the $200 million loss from Mars.

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