New Arrested Development must maintain appeal of original
Cynicism is incredibly prevalent in modern society. It has become a sort of cultural norm to expect empty promises, making skepticism the only reasonable way to view the world. I would be lying if I said there is no reason to be a cynic: We are facing turmoil as a nation, under the trials of a prolonged recession, an increasingly volatile political system, and countless other conflicts that plague the world. Often, glimmers of hope seem too far-fetched and are naturally disregarded, especially if they are only promises of good things to come. Yet hope should not be cast aside.
This week I learned that Arrested Development would return.
The rumor that the critically acclaimed television show would reappear in some format has been incubating since the show’s initial cancellation in 2006. The surprise, however, came when it was announced that the movie would be preceded by an extra season of the show focused on developing the individual characters’ whereabouts since the series ended.
I am thrilled by the prospect of more Bluth family shenanigans, yet I’m also cautious. If one were in need of a reason to be cynical, one would only have to look as far as one’s television or the silver screen. Numerous television shows and movies have inspired sequels and entire franchises, but more often than not they pale in comparison to the original work. When striking a balance between fan service and maintaining the appeal of the original show or movie, fan service usually wins and thus creates something that lacks the spirit of its predecessor.
The most notable instance of a franchise that has received fallout is Star Wars. Arguably the most classic film franchise of all time, its original trilogy ended in 1983 with the release of Return of the Jedi. Since then, there have been many additions to the story, including the prequels. As much as it pains this Star Wars fan to picture Darth Vader as a sexually frustrated boy with a hair braid, or to know that Jar Jar Binks is a thing, these facts are now canon to the story. Discontent is not only restrained to the prequels. The recent release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-Ray saw numerous alterations to the original trilogy by means of “digital enhancement.” This sparked much protest among fans that were upset at a franchise they know and love being “tarnished.”
The differences between a comedy television show like Arrested Development and a blockbuster sci-fi movie trilogy like Star Wars are obvious, yet there are many questions that arise from comparing the two. Will a new season and a film enhance or disrupt the Arrested Development mythos? Will the spirit of Arrested Development live on in the new season and movie? And if it does, will that spirit still be as relevant and entertaining today as the original run was?
Not every franchise ends with mixed emotions. I had similar worries two years ago when I discovered my favorite movie was getting a second sequel, 11 years after the original premiered. I grew up on this series, and it has had more of an influence on me than I can put into words. The first installment was untouchable in my mind, so pure and perfect, and the second movie somehow managed to improve on this, making me fear that any further additions to the franchise would completely ruin it as a whole.
The film I am talking about, of course, is Toy Story 3, and needless to say my fears were replaced by unadulterated love for how perfectly they concluded the trilogy. Stories are dear to us. We learn from them, they shape us as people, and thus we don’t want them to become corrupted. Arrested Development is a franchise no one wants to see blemished. The cynical view is to be prepared for disappointment. But you should remember: There is always money in the banana stand.