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December 05, 2005 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-05

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 5, 2005


stoicism to
live, show
By Kimberly Chou
Daily Arts Writer
Don't expect a Brendan Benson
show to blow you away.
He won't play his blonde-wood Gib-
son with his teeth,
he won't attempt
to crowd surf and Brendan
there will be no Benson
Jon Bon Jovi-esque Friday
pyrotechnics. But Atthe Blind Pig
if quiet charm is
what you're look-
ing for, Benson has plenty.
Detroit-born Benson hit the Blind
Pig Friday night, displaying both his
musical strength and his mild-child
show. He launched into scuzzy gui-
tar rock and cosmic-love ballads with
equal enthusiasm, but his body lan-
guage suggested an anxious boy next
door - not a well traveled, power-
pop maestro.
Benson is a deft songwriter with
an acute ear for melody; for him,
it's the little details that make the
music. It's the tinkling toy piano of
"Cold Hands, Warm Heart" and the
Southern-friend, Sly Stone-style bass
groove of "Alternative to Love." Ben-
son whipped out all of these tricks,
smiling sheepishly in between sets as
audience members yelled, "Brendan,
have my babies!" and quoted lines
from "You're Quiet."
It's key that his albums are capa-
ble of wooing fans by themselves; a
newer fan looking to be entertained
by Benson's stage show will be dis-
appointed. Onstage he's restrained
and seems detached, save for tapping
feet and a few head tilts. His backup

Law students fight the latest
'Development' with Fox series

By Punit Mattoo
Daily TV/New Media Editor
Postings on the dignified walls of the University's Law School
usually advertise a collection of benefit dinners, mass meet-
ings and lectures. But lately, mysterious black signs with "Don't
Look" written across them have also sprung up. Students curi-
ous enough to have peered under found something that, sadly,
not enough people have viewed - scenes from the critically
acclaimed (but scarcely watched) "Arrested Development."
The source of these posters, The "Arrested Development"
Club, is the only law-student group in the country dedicated
to Fox's comedy and, as founder and third-year law student
Jay Surdukowski explained, "lending our voices to the out-
cry among fans."
What began as a small gathering of people watching their
favorite episodes has turned into an 85 member group with a
growing web presence. Having already created a free lending
library to acquaint fellow University students with the series and
handing out 125 frozen bananas (similar to those of the Bluth
Banana Stand), the group has turned its efforts to adding mem-
bers from other schools at the University and saving the show
from cancellation.
"We want to bring the same passion we bring to legal
issues or political issues to something fun ... It's definitely
recreational (and) entertaining, but it's important to people,"
Surdukowski said.
The show's unique cast of characters, including a failing
magician, a young boy in love with his cousin and a "never nude"
who must constantly wear a pair of jean cutoffs, have produced
a dedicated fanbase who regularly recite its favorite quotes and
storylines. This obssesion only made the fear of cancellation
during the first two seasons all the more worrisome.
The public outcry over Fox's treatment of the low-rated show
ultimately peaked when the Fox recently announced it would cut
the series's third-season episode order from 22 to 13 and shelve
it during sweeps.
This move left many of the group's members angry at a net-
work already notorious for its poor scheduling moves during the
past few years. "'The Simpsons' took three years to get going,
and we're in that time where if it's not an instant hit, it's gone.
It's one of those shows you have to watch three or four times to
get the inside jokes," added Anne Gordon, a second-year Law
student and member of the club.
Although not officially cancelled, Fox is likely to cut the series
from its lineup. Five Emmy wins and the collective adoration of
nearly every TV critic weren't enough to save it from a ratings
plunge of nearly two million viewers in the past year.
In an interview with the Daily earlier this year (Arnett ponders
the fate of 'Development,' 9/27/05), star Will Arnett alluded to
the show's grim future on Fox, hinting that the cast may have
already accepted that this would be their last season.
"Our show, we know that we take a shit in the ratings every
night and we continue to make it. It's (kind of) weird ... I don't
know how much more patience Fox is going to have with us ... I
wouldn't blame them; frankly, you know, they're running a busi-
ness, and if part of your business is not performing, then you've
gotta axe it," Arnett said.


Brendan Benson performs at the Blind Pig on Friday.

band, especially muppet-like drum-
mer Matt Aljian, has far more enter-
tainment value.
Benson's most effective weapon is
.his voice: It morphs from squint-eyed
falsetto to a caramel tenor, smoothing
over rougher cuts such as "I'm Easy"
or painful tuning complications on
"Tiny Spark."
But then again, Benson's stage
presence (or lack thereof) fits in
with his shy, adorably awkward
persona. This troubadour is the boy
who's never good enough for the girl
in "Metarie," struggling with the
physical affliction of "Cold Hands,
Warm Heart."
The Pig was packed from stage to

door, but Friday's crowd was rela-
tively tame. While the venue has seen
bigger audiences, Bensonites were
packed in close. They were faithful,
singing along to much of his catalog.
But they didn't dance, except for a
casual sway to-and-fro, even when
the singer himself came awfully
close to it.
With his mix of melancholy and
style, Benson doesn't have the big-
stage, big-show persona the way
buddy Jack White does. But the
slight, indie-popster persona works
for him. Benson might not be able to
command a crowd at the Palace, but
sometimes the small time is a better
fit for the music.

Law student Jay Surdukowski poses at the Law Library.
But the idea of life without "Arrested" (and instead with pro-
posed replacement "Celebrity Skating") led Surdukowski and
other group members to organize a petition drive today in the
Law School from 12 to 1:30 p.m. in conjunction with the return
of new episodes.
As part of the petition, which will take place outside
Room 100 in Hutchins Hall, the group plans to provide sta-
tionary for any University student who wants to write letters
to the network and will mail them, along with any pre-writ-
ten letters, to Fox. The group has also received T-shirts from
the series' publicist to give away.
They hope to capitalize upon their status as law students
as well to increase their influence on the network. "We are
the demographic," Kurkowski said. "We are young and
potentially rich."
Group member and third-year law student Mike Murphy
jokingly added, "I'm a lawyer. I can buy lots of DVDs or I
can sue you."
Keeping their members hopeful, their efforts have thus
far introduced new members each day to the dysfunctional
Bluth family.
"Not a day goes by in every single one of my classes where
somebody (doesn't talk) to me about the show," Surdukovski
said. "It's like any sort of movement or campaign where you
want to generate word-of-mouth."
Further motivation comes from the almost-legendary renais-
sance of "Family Guy." The show, originally cancelled by Fox,
grew into a cult hit on Cartoon Network and sold millions of
DVDs, leading Fox to order new episodes.
Behind the movement remains the show the club's mem-
bers feel is worth fighting for.
"It's kind of like a novel," Surdukowski said.
"It's all building on earlier stuff; the more you watch it, the
more you get out of it."

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I ---




Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria performs during The Night
89X Stole Christmas 8 concert at Cobo Arena Thursday.



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