Friday, November 11, 2005

This $#!+ is Bananas!

Dear HBO,

Longtime viewer, first-time writer. I’m a big fan and think you do great work (okay, I don’t “get” Deadwood or Rome, and the less said about the fourth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the better, plus Entourage is pretty overrated and Extras is a little too… British, but…). Anyway, the reason I’m writing is that I think it would be just swell if you could pick up the Arrested Development that Fox just fumbled.

Are you aware that Arrested Development brings in about four million viewers each week? That’s roughly double the number that watch your highest-rated comedy series Entourage! And four times the number of people who watch your second highest-rated comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm! In fact, if most of its loyal viewers followed it over to HBO, it would be your second highest-rated current series, after The Sopranos.

Then again, I know that ratings aren’t the only thing that’s important to you. After all, you’re not TV, you’re HB freakin’ O! You care about buzz and prestige, the sorts of things that get people with disposable income to feel like they have to subscribe to maintain their toehold in the pop cultural elite. It doesn’t matter how many of those suckers ever tune into HBO, as long as they neglect to cancel their monthly subscription. Back in the ‘90s, few people outside of Hollywood ever watched The Larry Sanders Show (and even fewer ever watched it again), but lots of people subscribed because they wanted to be able to watch this show that kept getting mentioned by critics and The Emmys.

You’ve recently lost two of your signature series, Sex and the City and Six Feet Under, without leaving behind any heirs to fill their Manolos. Entourage failed to make a major impression at The Emmys in its first year, and most of its second year press sounded like “Well, it’s better than last season… and that Jeremy Piven…” And the once critically unassailable Curb Your Enthusiasm is starting to get beat up by its formerly sycophantic critics.

On the other hand, critics and snobby bloggers can’t stop falling over themselves to fluff Arrested Development. And this year, The Emmys nominated three of its stars in the acting categories (the only categories anybody really cares about since actors are the ones who make up the funny things that come out of their mouths). Not to be harsh, but that’s a lot better than any current HBO comedy series is likely to pull off now that Sex and the City is gone.

Now, I know network series, and this one in particular, are pricier than you generally like. However, considering the $100 million you spent on producing Rome (not to mention the millions more spent to raise awareness of it with a massive marketing campaign), which has attracted fewer viewers than Arrested Development usually does, is $1.5 million an episode so much to ask for built-in buzz, prestige and audience? You can also subtract the development costs involved in creating a new series. And how can it be that much more expensive than Sex and the City (which shot on location all around New York City), anyway? Granted, you won’t get a cut of the DVD sales or syndication like you do with your other series, however maybe you can use that as an incentive for Fox to reduce its licensing fee.

As if asking you to pick up this orphan weren’t enough, I do have one last request. If, GOB willing, you do decide to run the show, please, please don’t un-bleep the bad language or un-blue dot the nudity. It’s already risqué enough (if you don’t believe me, ask the Parents Television Council, who recently named it “Worst Show of the Week” and 9th “Worst Show of the Year") and the efforts they go to in barely making their double entendres network-safe make the show all the more hilarious. However, if the Bluth Family must visit the Playboy Mansion, that’s not a problem.

In conclusion, picking up Arrested Development would be the best thing for you, HBO, and more importantly, the best thing for me, an HBO subscriber. It’s the least you could do for me after prematurely canceling my beloved The Comeback.

The Pop Culture Petri Dish

P.S. Showtime and Cinemax – change a few of the show names and everything in here goes double for you. I don’t know anybody who subscribes to your networks, but I know a few who would (including this blogger) if you bought Arrested Development.

For just one hundred fifty million pennies a week, you could sponsor this family. That's less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Please, give what you can. There's always money in the banana stand.

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