Yesterday, Fox cut down its order for the Emmy-winning sitcom Arrested Development from 22 episodes to 13. It also yanked the show from the November sweep schedule. Arrested Development had just returned from a monthlong hiatus, with two back-to-back episodes guest-starring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, but it only attracted 4 million viewers. The low ratings hurt Prison Break, which follows it, and slowing down a new hit is a big no-no.
Now, while Fox hasn't exactly said the word "canceled," we all know what is happening. It's a cosmic injustice and a pattern that occurs over and over on television: Every time an offbeat, usually somewhat cerebral comedy manages to endear itself to a small but dedicated audience, the show and its audience get the rug pulled out from under them. The Comeback. Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Freaks and Geeks. All gone. Yet somehow Yes, Dear is going strong in its sixth season. There is no sense to it, but at least we can remember this fine show and the many other comedies, and a few shows that straddle the line, that have dared to be too good for the masses.
The Comeback--This HBO comedy was an acquired taste, to be sure, but those who stuck around to appreciate it were devastated by the news of it's cancellation. It cultivated a diehard fan base, but most people watched the nasty pilot, populated almost entirely by repellent Hollywood types, and said to themselves, "I don't need to see that!"
Andy Richter Controls the Universe--This workplace sitcom was a midseason replacement on Fox, which saw the wisdom in green-lighting the show and picked it up the next season. Fox then regretted its decision and quickly canceled it.
Freaks and Geeks--This "comedy drama" on NBC (note: not FOX, as previously stated. Sorry, our bad!) about being a nerdy teen in the early '80s didn't even last a full season. It lives on in the hearts and minds of the spandex generation. Show creator Judd Apatow recently scored big with his film The 40 Year Old Virgin.
Undeclared--This series, also created by Judd Apatow, was kind of a Freaks and Geeks set in college. It met the same fate. Network: Fox!
Square Pegs--This one-season cult classic was created by Anne Beatts, one of the original writers on Saturday Night Live. It starred future Sex and the City gal Sarah Jessica Parker as part of the mega-nerd crowd. Unbelievable!
Bosom Buddies--This sitcom, which used Billy Joel's "My Life" as its theme, featured two advertising executives who had to dress up as women and live in an all-female apartment. How could that miss? It was canceled after two seasons, but that was fine for series star Tom Hanks, who went on to have a small movie career
Brisco County Jr.--Bruce Campbell starred as the titular character of this absurd Fox series in the scf-fi/western genre (OK, that's a niche market). This show premiered on Fox the same night as The X-Files. Maybe people didn't want to mix silly sci-fi with deadly serious sci-fi.
Mr. Show with Bob and David--Quite possibly the funniest television show ever made. If you want to get your fill of Arrested's David Cross, look no further. Also starring the equally hilarious Bob Odenkirk. Look for cameos by comedy luminaries Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Tom Kenny, and others.
Upright Citizens Brigade--Cerebral, conceptual, and clever. Three words that mean two things: funny and canceled. This sketch show starred Amy Poehler, who went on to Saturday Night Live, and Ian Roberts, who guest-starred on...Arrested Development!
Get a Life--Chris Elliot starred as a 30-something man-child, still working his paper route and living with his parents in this Fox sitcom. This concept was a funny novelty in the early '90s, and then it became a sad reality after the dot-com crash.
Police Squad!--Leslie Nielsen was perfect as the stone-faced idiot Captain Frank Drebin. This show was exactly what you'd expect from the creators of Airplane: fast-paced gags and nutty slapstick. It was a bomb on TV, but it lived on as a hit movie series.
Sledge Hammer--This was another cop-show lampoon. David Rasche starred as a belligerent doofus who swaggered into every situation blindly and uttered the famous catch phrase "Trust me, I know what I'm doing" before completely bungling something.
The Family Guy--This is the only show on the list that was canceled and then revived by the same network (maybe you've heard of them: Fox). This show may be a room divider, but that's the way comedy should be. If it appeals to everyone, it's suspicious. This show is also one of the few revived by fan appeal (and DVD sales). See, your votes and wishes do count!
Someone, give us a reason to keep living! TV.com suggests that Comedy Central should pick up Arrested Development and give it a second life. On cable, 4 million viewers a week is a monster hit. Besides, Jason Bateman already has had his share of cancellations: remember "It's Your Move," the 1984 "Silver Spoons" spin-off?
This is just a smattering of the great unsung. Have we forgotten one of your favorites? Do you hate these shows and think they got what they deserved? Let us know!