Arrested Development was, in this Screen Rant writer’s opinion, a masterpiece of television art and the best series of the last decade, if not longer. Taking its conceptual cues from Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, it infused weird but wonderful characters with the best comedic writing since, well, the beginning of time.
After being ruthlessly cancelled in its third season, rumors of an Arrested Development film have continually run rampant, spread primarily by the cast and crew themselves. Almost five years and five hundred empty promises later, Arrested Development fans are still waiting. Now, according to creator Mitch Hurwitz, we might be waiting even longer…that is, if people don’t start watching his new show, Running Wilde.
In an interview with The New York Times, Hurwitz said:
“[The Arrested Development movie is] very much the next thing that’s going to happen [for me]. The hope has been that I could get [Running Wilde] going and put all the pieces in place so that it can continue to be successful, and then have the means to take the year and make this movie. So that’s what I’m trying to do. […] It’s like, buy this magazine or we kill this dog. Watch this show or you don’t get an Arrested movie.”
Oh, Mitch Hurwitz, you incorrigible scamp! I’m inclined to assume that he’s just being sarcastic in the above quote, but regardless—don’t you dare toy with my fragile emotions here, Hurtwitz!
The idea—the vague glimmer of hope—that an Arrested Development movie might one day become a reality has kept me going on those rough, dark days, through good times and bad, through thick, through thin, and everything else. It has been my rock in a sea of turbulent, death-inducing tidal waves, hurricanes and Segways gone awry. To tide me over, I’ve endured terrible movie after terrible movie and watched the three perfect seasons of Arrested via DVD countless times (well over fifty). I need this movie so bad that I will, if begging is required, be on my knees. Begging. And crying. Mostly begging, though.
But if our only means of getting an Arrested Development movie is a sudden-yet-incredibly-unlikely up-tick in Running Wilde’s popularity? Well, we might as well pack it in right now, people. Whereas Arrested was critically acclaimed and adored by fans—a fan base growing every day by way of DVD, Hulu, and Netflix—Wilde is neither/nor. Whereas Arrested had a perfect cast with nine great actors at the top of their game, Wilde has the admittedly great Will Arnett doing what Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards tried to do after Seinfeld said goodbye. Whereas Arrested revolutionized the situational comedy—influencing shows like The Office, Community, Modern Family, and so on—Wilde is your typical over-the-top ’90s sitcom, only without the laugh track.
To put it simply, Running Wilde is no Arrested Development. (Just ask our very own Anthony Ocasio.)
For the uninitiated, check out this classic Arrested episode:
Again, I’m hoping with every fiber of my being that Mitch Hurwitz was being sarcastic when he said that Running Wilde needs to succeed for an Arrested movie to exist. And indeed, there’s some indication that he was, because as recently as August, he told The Hollywood Reporter:
“We’re writing [the Arrested Development movie]; we’re halfway through. The reason I’ve been so cagey about it is because I know it’s taken us a while to get it going, and […] fans have been so kind to us. I really want to do it. It’s not going to be a big money maker. It’s going to be fun, like a family reunion. The only stumbling block could be scheduling. Everybody wants to play together.”
Though Hurwitz claims that an Arrested movie would be no major moneymaker, he neglects to mention that it wouldn’t cost much either. There needn’t be any expensive cinematography nor big budget special effects for a movie largely composed of scenes where people talk and do chicken impressions for the purposes of making humor. In fact, an Arrested movie wouldn’t feel right if it weren’t shot on the cheap with handheld digital cameras a la the show. Add to that the fact that producer/narrator Ron Howard and the entire cast—Jason Batemen, Michael Cera, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walter—seem totally onboard, and this movie is good to go, whether or not Running Wilde lights up the ratings charts in the coming weeks and months. Which, it won’t.
In that same Hollywood Reporter article, Hurwitz talks about his tendency to write “unlikable” characters because they’re funnier than “likable” ones—which is a statement I agree with. Apparently, Running Wilde’s pilot was largely rewritten and reshot with notes from Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly pushing the characters toward that nebulous concept called “likeability.” Maybe that’s the reason Wilde has so far been barely more than ‘meh’? My question is, are these the same Fox execs who mis-marketed Arrested Development to its early and undeserved grave? Because those characters may have been jerks, but they were also some of the most likable characters in all of television.
Running Wilde, starring Will Arnett, Keri Russell, Michael Morris, and David Cross, is on Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30C and isn’t fairing so well in the ratings game. All I’m saying is, maybe if the characters weren’t so “likable,” Wilde might at least be critically acclaimed.
As for the Arrested Development movie—the veritable Holy Grail of movies made from TV shows that were unfairly canceled in their prime? Well, this is one fan who refuses to believe the project’s dead until every creator, producer, and cast member involved confirms it’s dead thrice over. Yes, even you, Ron Howard. Especially you.