January 24, 2006
arts. michigandaily. com
Please save our Bluths
it's a little too early to bemoan the
probable fate of the brilliant com-
edy "Arrested Development," but its
demise looks imminent. Nine episodes
were cut, it was held from airing during
sweeps and Fox is burning off the four
last episodes on a random Friday night in
February. But unlike nearly everyone else,
I don't think the network is
BRINGS INDIE ROCK TO
THE BLIND PIG
By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Editor
CONCERT P R EV e bEW
Leslie Feist has never been the type to stay in one
completely to blame.
Sure, Fox failed to put full
promotional muscle behind
the show at first or give it
the best time slots. And yes,
its episode order was cut two
seasons running. But that's
not the whole story.
Let's get this out of the
way. "Arrested Develop-
ment" is great. It completely
eschewed the sitcom for-
mula and created something
place for very long. She's per-
formed everything from punk
to folk all while touring con-
stantly in her native Canada,
the United States and Europe.
Tonight at the Blind Pig she
begins the stateside leg of her
North American tour, support-
at 8 p.m.
At the Blind Pig
ed by Broken Social Scene bandmate and fellow
Toronto scenester Jason Collett.
Feist, a Calgary native, got her start playing in
punk-rock group Placebo (not the British alt-rock
group). True to her D.I.Y. spirit she spent almost
five years touring nonstop, straining her voice to
the point where she was told she might never sing
Subsequently, Feist moved to Toronto to play
guitar for By Divine Right, where she met future
Broken Social Scene member Brendan Canning.
In her downtime between opening for some of
Canada's leading bands with By Divine Right, she
found time to record her first solo album and move
in with electroclash/trash queen Peaches. She con-
tributed vocals to Peaches' debut album Teaches
of Peaches, and not long after joined the burgeon-
ing supergroup Broken Social Scene just in time
for their acclaimed sophomore effort, You Forgot
It in People.
Riding the wave of attention lapped onto the
Toronto indie-rock scene exposed by Broken Social
Scene, Feist released her own critically-hailed
sophomore effort, Let it Die, in 2004, and com-
pleted her transformation from punk rocker to indie
Collett hasn't enjoyed quite the same level of
success as Feist, but Broken Social Scene has
Courtesy of Arts & Crafts
truly original. It even gets
better with each viewing as its quick-wit-
ted humor can often be quite subtle and
After paltry ratings in its first season,
Fox could have given the series the axe.
But it stood behind one of its few critical
successes, ordering a full second season.
Midway through that second year, when it
was clear that "Arrested" couldn't increase
viewership in spite of rave reviews and a
shiny Emmy for Best Comedy Series, Fox
decided to cut its losses and trimmed the
number of episodes by four.
Things looked bleak for the series, and
rightfully so. Fox had already given the
show a reprieve once. Why should they do
it again? But Fox brought "Arrested" back
a third time - and even gave it a full sea-
son pickup. This newfound support would
be short-lived, however, as the ratings
on its new Monday timeslot were putrid
at best. So now Fox cuts episodes again,
leaves the show in limbo and chooses to
air the remaining episodes after sweeps.
Despite well-deserved critical acclaim
and numerous awards, the show still can't.
find an audience. Simply, no one watches
it - at least not in the numbers that would
warrant network support. Television is a
business and Fox loses money by invest-
ing in "Arrested Development." If you
watched it, Fox would keep airing it.
But that doesn't mean things are defi-
nitely over for the show. Showtime and
ABC have both expressed interest in pick-
ing it up - and it's not like Fox was the
right place for a bright, witty sitcom. After
all, this is the network associated with
drivel like "Joe Millionaire," rather than
Emmy-winning comedies. Showtime
could really use the show's critical clout to
bolster subscriptions and ABC is in dire
need of a comedy hit not named "Accord-
ing to Jim" (sorry, "Desperate House-
wives" is NOT a comedy).
OK, I've defended Fox
enough. This is the same net-
work that has destroyed more
good shows than I care to
recount. With the exception
of "The Simpsons" and "24,"
Fox has done little to cultivate
innovative programming. It
simply searches for the lowest
common denominator and
exploits it. What is it replac-
AM ing "Arrested Development"
NBERG with during its hiatus? Why,
"Skating with Celebrities." If
you're unfamiliar with the concept, Fox
is attempting to rip off ABC's success-
ful "Dancing with the Stars" by putting
it on ice. Hire some D-list "celebrities"
and you've got a hit, and if that's what you
want, so be it. But don't come crying when
your network gets completely overlooked
come awards season.
I still think Fox should have given
"Arrested" yet another chance. I know
many people who only recently discov-
ered it, thanks to the DVD box sets. The
series is almost syndication-ready at 53
episodes (100 used to be the magic num-
ber, but now it's closer to 80), which means
more potential revenue. Another season
and it's practically there. Even "Seinfeld"
struggled to garner ratings in its early
years, only taking off after NBC moved
it to Thursdays with monster-hit "Cheers."
Fox's only show with ratings anywhere
near Seinfeld is "American Idol"
Regardless, Fox should rethink its
"Arrested Development" strategy. At the
very least, it should keep the show sim-
ply to help repair its image. Show Fox
how wrong it is by watching those final
four episodes on Feb. 10.I urge you to try
and "Save our Bluths" as the last new epi-
sode so eloquently stated. Any show that
can poke fun at its own network standing
deserves to be saved.
-Rottenberg has Tivo'd every episode
of "Skating with Celebrities." Share
his love email@example.com.
Indie chick - the hot version.
similarly provided him a platform for his solo
musings. His third effort, Idols of Exile, already
released in Canada, comes out stateside Feb. 2,
and finds the singer-songwriter collaborating with
his famous friends, including members of Broken
Social Scene (Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, and
Justin Peroff,) Metric (Emily Haines and James
Shaw,) Stars (Amy Millian and Evan Cranley,)
Apostle of Hustle (Andrew Whiteman and Julian
Brown) Do Make Say Think (Charles Spearin)
and Feist herself.
"It's all sort of part of the family that is the Bro-
ken Social Scene," Collett said. "It's a scene that
some musical release started because so many of us
turned our backs on the industry and stopped trying
to calculate how to get a record deal and just started
to make music for each other."
"I think all the best art always gets created that
way because what happens is by accident and
without intention," Collett said. "So it was only
natural for me to ask my friends to come play on
Collett also looks forward to touring with Feist
again. "Leslie is a spit-fire. I've known her for a long
time and she's just great to play with," he said.
Expect a raucous set where the line between
opener and headliner is blurred.
"In typical Toronto fashion she, and her band,
play all over my set and me," Collett explained,
"and my band will play all over hers."
. _ .,