With just a few days remaining before the release of 15 brand new Arrested Development episodes on Netflix, the hype built up over the last year is raising into a crescendo. All fans of the show—whether they watched the series when it first aired, binged on its DVD/Netflix availability long after, or both—fully appreciate how rare a gift this is, and the launch of the entire season at once is sure to make for some raging AD parties.
More surprisingly, just last week, another beloved TV show by the name of 24 was pulled from the grave. Jack Bauer fanboy madness quickly ensued, and quite frankly, we shouldn’t be even a little surprised—Jack’s heart literally stopped at least twice during the show’s original eight-season run. The bonus season will likely air sometime next year, upping the ante as Jack saves the world in half the time he’s usually given—12 hours.
The revival of loyally followed shows like Arrested Development and 24 points to a rising trend of nostalgia permeating the TV landscape right now. Back when animated favorite Family Guy (2005) returned from cancelled doom, such a feat was almost unheard of. Turnover rate on the silver screen is and always has been extremely high, and at the end of the day, ratings were ratings. However, Family Guy rode its way to a reprieve thanks almost entirely to Adult Swim reruns and the introduction of DVDs as a new post-mortem metric for success, something streaming services like Netflix have now taken to an even higher level.
What’s interesting about bringing shows back from the dead is what it reveals about our culture—we really don’t know what we have until it’s gone. Arrested Development got shuffled around the schedule many times when it originally aired, eventually meeting its demise when Fox slammed its final four episodes together in a two hour block on a Friday night. Then, only through DVD sales and online streaming, did the world slowly begin to understand the genius it had originally shunned. Would Arrested Development be back without the increasingly easier access to its original episodes provided over the last seven years? Definitely not—which can also be said about Family Guy and even Futurama.
Although AD getting the second life it so clearly deserves is probably the greatest TV victory we’ll ever see, let’s all hope that what 24 is continuing doesn’t ruin a good thing. As a fan of both shows, I can say that I’m very excited to have them return, but for very different reasons. I want Arrested Development back because it’s some of the smartest, funniest, multi-layered writing ever seen in a TV show. I want 24 back because the writers flubbed Jack’s finale in anticipation of a movie that wasn’t even close to a reality. If the idea of that movie never existed, I would have been perfectly fine with 24 providing us with a satisfying ending for Jack Bauer, as the show was definitely well past its prime at the end of Season 8.
I just hope this trend of wanting more doesn’t continue with shows returning that, far more than 24, have no business coming back. We can all begin grieving preparations for the end of TV’s “Golden Age” now that Breaking Bad and Mad Men are coming to their respective ends in the next year, but that’s certainly no reason to soil other great runs by encouraging comebacks well after the dream is over. We should be appreciating the return of a great show like AD whose life was cut tragically short, but for the big guns that already had their swan song, let’s not reopen wounds that took quite some time to heal.
This is a Freshly Pressed post.