Ominous news for funniest-show-on-television ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT this week: Fox has trimmed this season's episode order from 22 to 18. Combined with the show's continued and frustrating lack ratings, as well as Fox's plans to drop AMERICAN DAD into AD's timeslot this Spring, it seems to suggest a troubled future for the Show...if any future at all. If AD doesn't return for a third season, on the one hand, I will be enormously perturbed that more viewers didn't tune in, presumably because they were too busy watching Tivo'd episodes of AMERICAN IDOL or somesuch nonsense. On the other hand, at least it made it through two seasons rather than dying an even-more-premature death like similar off-the-wall Fox comedies like THE TICK or ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE.
So, in hopefully premature memoriam, I would like to remember the good times. Here's a look back at some fond memories of my good friend, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.
1) The Banana Stand - Possibly the only frozen banana stand ever to feature as a major plot point in a network show.
2) Kissing Cousins - Ah, the star-crossed love of George-Michael and Maeby. Because the only thing funnier than incest played for laughs is longed-for incest played for laughs.
3) Gob's Stint in Jail - I haven't laughed so hard at a prison stabbing since Oz.
4) Gob's Disastrous Funeral Magic Act - It went from bad to worse with the speed of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.
5) Gob in General, Really - One of the funniest characters sitcoms have granted us in years, a spectacularly narcissistic whirlwind of breakaway pants, projectile pennies, and Segway scooters.
6) Til Death Do Them Part - Anybody could have guessed that an experiment with "open marriage" would have gone badly for never-nude, would-be Blue Man Tobias, but AD took it to the next level by having it turn out just as miserably for knock-out Lindsay.
7) The Flashbacks - Funniest use of random asides since FAMILY GUY.
8) The Stair-Car - It's only a matter of time until a pimped-out version is found for sale on eBay.
9) "I blue myself." - 'nuff said.
10) Michael - Even the sanest of the Bluth clan still proves on occasion to be hilariously self-involved (such as his ill-fated affair with Julia Louis-Dreyfus' blind attorney).
The Week Rerun:
THE EVIL THAT MEN DO - MEDIUM continues to prove my initial disinterest wrong with an outing where Allison's unpleasant hunch about a too-nice-to-be-true Good Samaritan proves true... from a certain point of view. Also deserves props for a scene where a desperate Allison tries to steer a befuddled teen away from the tragedy that awaits her years in the future.
JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE - I'm sure I wasn't the only one who caught the offhand remark about a "paper company in Slough" in last week's LOST. Somebody's been watching THE OFFICE...
PISSING CONTESTS, DONALD TRUMP-STYLE - BOSTON LEGAL's Alan Shore proved that little-but-rich wins out over burly-and-aggressive every time. Granted, it did land him in a bit of legal trouble, but he still ended up with Rhona Mitra, so it's all good.
LOOK, MA, CONTINUITY! - One of the more tragic facets of ENTERPRISE's cancellation is that Manny Coto and company have proven such capable handlers of TREK's legacy, giving us a season that nimbly works within the boundaries of what came before, even while finding ways to add to and reinterpret it. We've had stories about the legacy of the experiments that created Khan; about how the Vulcans overcame the lesser angels of their nature; and, more recently, about the earliest events that birthed the Federation. That respect is there even in the smallest touches, such as the scenes on Romulus that featured--without making a big deal about it--several Remans (as introduced in the most-recent big screen outing, NEMESIS).
So what brought you the televisual joy this week? Drop me a line at email@example.com. Keep your head and hands inside the television, folks...
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14
THE FLY (7 PM CST, WGN) Jeff Goldblum learns that matter transportation and insects don't mix, especially in David Cronenberg's world.
ANCIENT ALIENS (7 PM CST, History Channel) Speculation on whether the earth was visited by extraterrestrials in ancient times, and if so, whether they came solely to insult us each on an individual basis.
24 (8 PM CST, Fox) The Pres deals with evacuations in the wake of a nuclear meltdown and Behrooz tracks down his uncle for help. And if we're lucky, maybe we'll get some more Jack Bauer public service announcements.
LAS VEGAS (8 PM CST, NBC) "Tainted Love." Hey kids, it's ex-Superman Dean Cain! Because man cannot live by RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT hosting stints alone.
MEDIUM (9 PM CST, NBC) "Jump Start." Allison is troubled by twin visions: of a young woman's suicide and of her husband's colleague falling ill.
CSI: MIAMI (9 PM CST, CBS) "Identity." A woman's body is found in a hotel's poolside cabana, after having been eaten and then regurgitated by a boa constrictor. And I'm now convinced the CSI writers are resorting to a Wheel o' Random Death Methods.
HOUSE OF THE DEAD (9 PM CST, Showtime) A 90-minute primer on how not to make a movie.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15
GILMORE GIRLS (7 PM CST, WB) "Say Something." Lorelai tries to mend fences with Luke, and Rory watches Logan's card game. Presumably poker not Pokemon.
LAKE PLACID (7 PM CST, AMC) It's quite a stretch to apply the term "Classic" to David E. Kelley's giant-gator flick, "American Movie" or otherwise.
HOUSE (8 PM CST, Fox) "Detox." House's troubles are legion as he tries to shake his addiction to painkillers while preoccupied with a dying 16-year-old.
SCRUBS (8 PM CST, NBC) "My Life in Four Cameras." After treating a TV writer, J.D. envisions his life as a "filmed before a live studio audience" sitcom. And that's so meta I actually need to go lie down now.
VERONICA MARS (8 PM CST, UPN) "Mars vs. Mars." A Neptune High teacher is accused of sexual misconduct with a student, landing Veronica and her dad on opposite sides of the investigation.
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (9 PM CST, NBC) "Hooked." The murder of an HIV-positive teen casts suspicion on three separate suspects.
NYPD BLUE (9 PM CST, ABC) "Lenny Scissorhands." Andy returns to his old stomping grounds after a bust goes bad and a high-ranking co-worker lands in the hospital.
EXIT TO EDEN (9 PM CST, Cinemax) If the thought of Rosie O' Donnell in S +M gear floats your boat, then this is your marina.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16
THAT '70S SHOW (7 PM CST, Fox) "It's All Over Now." Eliza Dushku guests as an intern at the radio station where Donna works. Say, isn't it about time for a Faith spinoff?
LOST (7 PM CST, ABC) "Outlaws." A hunt for an 800-pound boar bookends flashbacks into Sawyer's dark past, which includes a con artist played by the T-100 himself, Robert Patrick.
SMALLVILLE (7 PM CST, WB) "Krypto." SUPERMAN uber-writer and SMALLVILLE staff writer Jeph Loeb is an avowed fan of Supes' old super-powered pooch, so it's no surprise they're finally getting around to working Krypto into the show's continuity. However, let's just steer well clear of any Comet, Streaky, or Beppo appearances, m'kay?
THE TIME MACHINE (7 PM CST, TCM) George Pal's classic take on H.G. Wells' tale of Morlocks and Eloi.
THE WEST WING (8 PM CST, NBC) "Freedonia." Presidential contender Bail Organa--er, Santos--is out of sorts when he's not invited to a debate that includes rivals Matthew Gideon and Otter--er, Russell and Hoynes.
ALIAS (8 PM CST, ABC) "Détente." Syd and sister Nadia team up on a mission to steal intelligence from a Russian oil magnate, which means twice the opportunity for skimpy fetish-ware.
JACK & BOBBY (8 PM CST, WB) "Time Out of Life." Tom and Grace's elicit shenanigans land them in hot water when a fellow professor catches them getting some face time.
GODS & MONSTERS (8 PM CST, IFC) Brendan Fraser actually shows--gasp!--serious dramatic chops as the gardener who enters a troubled friendship with FRANKENSTEIN director James Whale (Ian McKeller, in a role that should have won him an Oscar).
LAW & ORDER (9 PM CST, NBC) "The Sixth Man." Presumably has nothing at all to do with Ah-nuld's craptacular clones-gone-wild flick THE SIXTH DAY, but you never know.
CSI: NY (9 PM CST, CBS) "'Til Death Do We Part." A bride falls dead before she can make it down the aisle, and a severed hand is found in an abandoned Staten Island monastery. No doubt the aftermath of a tragic attempt at "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" performance art.
FORBIDDEN PLANET (9 PM CST, TCM) Even fifty years later, this tale of Tempests and monsters from the Id still holds up as one of the finest filmed examples of the genre.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17
WINGS OF DESIRE (5:45 PM CST, Sundance) Wim Wender's 1987 story of Angels longing to be human is superior to its American remake CITY OF ANGELS in every way, including better writing, a complete lack of either Nic Cage or the Goo Goo Dolls, and the presence of Peter Falk as the most disheveled former celestial being ever.
THE O.C. (7 PM CST, Fox) "The Test." Caleb's plan to adopt Lindsay causes problems, and Seth mopes in the aftermath of Summer and Zach's tryst.
UNSOLVED HISTORY (8 PM CST, Discovery Channel) Investigations into the mysterious Nevada base known as Area 51 reveal that it is actually just a weather balloon. Or possibly swamp gas.
POINT PLEASANT (8 PM CST, Fox) "Secrets & Lies." Christina tracks down the doctor who delivered her; meanwhile, Amber continues trying to sabotage Meg and Ben's relationship. This show's showing a little more promise, but it's still not winning me over as rapidly as MEDIUM.
CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (8 PM CST, CBS) "King Baby." A powerful casino owner is found dead in his driveway, possibly from thinking too hard about why we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway.
GALAXY QUEST (8 PM CST, TBS) Say, isn't it about time for a sequel? Anybody?
BLACK BOOKS (8:30 PM CST, BBC America) "The Big Lockout." Bernard is locked out, and Manny in, by a defective security system.
WITHOUT A TRACE (9 PM CST, CBS) "Party Girl." A media-darling publishing heiress goes poof on her way to a party, inciting the audience to wish the same thing would happen to Paris Hilton.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18
JOAN OF ARCADIA (7 PM CST, CBS) "Independence Day." Joan risks parental wrath by going on an overnight trip with Adam. Couldn't she just tell her parents that God said it was okay?
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (7 PM CST, UPN) "Affliction." Trip is off prepping the Enterprise's sister ship, Columbia, for its first voyage, so he's not around when Phlox is kidnapped by Klingons. Supposedly this and the following ep will finally answer the long-standing fan question of what was up with the Original Series Klingons' smooth, un-bumpified foreheads. Also, keep your eyes peeled for an appearance by FAMILY GUY creator Seth MacFarlane as an engineer on the Columbia.
FANTASTIC VOYAGE (7 PM CST, WGN) The source of 1,000 parodies is still a surprisingly good flick in and of itself.
STARGATE SG-1 (7 PM CST, Sci-Fi) "Citizen Joe." Homer Simpson--or his voice, at least--guests as a disturbed barber who threatens O'Neill unless the team reveals the portal's existence to the general public.
STARGATE ATLANTIS (8 PM CST, Sci-Fi) "Before I Sleep." The team is shocked to discover that a woman kept in suspended animation for 10,000 years is actually Dr. Weir. Weird.
NUMBERS (9 PM CST, CBS) "Prime Suspect." A pair of clowns kidnap the 6-year-old girl whose party they were hired perform at, confirming the worst suspicions of my godfather and coulrophobics everywhere.
MONK (9 PM CST, USA) "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas." Ends up married to Britney Spears.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (9 PM CST, Sci-Fi) "Six Degrees of Separation." Another incarnation of Number Six shows up on the Galactica and accuses Baltar of treason.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (5:10 PM CST, Sci-Fi) Even aside from the fact that Harrison Ford is now older than Sean Connery was when he played Henry Jones, Sr., how can they plan another Indy sequel when he already, literally, rode into the sunset in this movie?
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (7 PM CST, Spike) Spike styles itself the "First Network for Men," and God knows there's nothing more manly than John Travolta in disco pants.
TOY STORY 2 (7 PM CST, Disney) Pixar defies the odds with a sequel that's better than the original.
EXORCIST 2: THE HERETIC (7 PM CST, AMC) ...even as the EXORCIST proves the rule rather than the exception.
BULLITT (7 PM CST, TCM) Gotta love that car chase.
TEEN TITANS (7 PM CST, Cartoon Network) "Employee of the Month." Beast Boy gets a job so he can buy a Moped. Why a guy who can transform into just about anything needs a Moped, I don't know.
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (7:30 PM CST, Cartoon Network) "The Doomsday Sanction." Supes throws down with Doomsday, while Bats digs into the government conspiracy against the League that's been building to a head for a while now.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (6:30 PM CST, Fox) "Opera." Dewey imagines his parents into an outlandish opera fantasy (but don't let Lois hear any cracks about fat ladies).
THE SIMPSONS (7 PM CST, Fox) "There's Something About Marrying." Homer becomes an ordained minister via the internet in order to take advantage of Springfield's legalization of gay marriage. Supposedly features the "outing" of a long-running character.
CHARMED (7 PM CST, WB) "Show Ghouls." Inset your own Elizabeth Berkley/Kyle MacLachlan joke.
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (7:30 PM CST, Fox) "Out on a Limb." Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as Michael's old flame and Buster prepares to ship out to Iraq.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK: THE FIRST FIVE YEARS OF SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (8 PM CST, NBC) Back when it was good.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (8 PM CST, ABC) "Impossible." The focus shifts to the kids as Danielle tries to win back John and Julie realizes that Zach may be trouble.
CARNIVALE (8 PM CST, HBO) "Damascus, NE." Stroud is hot on Ben's heels as the reluctant world-savior (or is he...?) visits a run-down hotel in search of Scudder. As long as there are no return visits to the creepy death-mask guy.
BOSTON LEGAL (9 PM CST, ABC) "Tortured Souls." Denny Crane faces off against Donny Crane (Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar) in a case about a cancelled wedding. This concludes our broadcast.