Lest coming up with fresh new ideas give anyone a migraine, Hollywood seems pretty intent on circling back to pre-existing ideas and continuing to dole out reboots, sequels, and reboots of said sequels and reboots. But sometimes, this devotion to nostalgia culture comes at a significant price: ruining perfectly good endings. Even TV comedies have a tendency to blow otherwise satisfactory finales with clunky narrative additions – and really, there’s no better example of this than Arrested Development.
While fans were clamoring for a revival following the show’s cancellation by Fox in 2006, the final episode of its network run, “Development Arrested,” was arguably a near-perfect ending. Think about it; the “finale” bookended the series with a distinct callback to the pilot episode, resolved many of the central characters’ long-standing dilemmas, and ended with Michael and his son sailing off into the sunset, Frodo-style. Not to mention Ron Howard’s voiceover, which pretty definitively concluded the story by stating: “It was Arrested Development.”
But when the show was dusted off by Netflix years later, this poignant moment was completely deflated with season four’s revelation that George Sr. had stowed away on the boat, inspiring Michael to immediately return to shore. Sure, criticizing the last two seasons of Arrested Development is mostly beating a dead dove at this point, but does anyone even remember how the show ultimately ended?
While season three culminated with a tender moment between a father and a son, as they rejected the influence of their toxic family members in search of a better life, season five wrapped up with … the discovery of a corpse and the revelation that Buster is a murderer – which was somehow both depressingly bleak and surprisingly unmemorable.
Other beloved comedies could fall into this same trap; like, we’re soon getting a new Frasier series – but from all accounts, this show will not feature the love interest that Frasier Crane ended up with in the last episode, after 11 seasons of humiliating dating mishaps and failed relationships. Which is kind of a bummer. Not to mention that it undercuts Frasier’s big, tear-jerking goodbye speech.
And Party Down, not unlike Arrested Development, was unceremoniously canceled and is now being revived – but it, too, already ended on an appropriate note, one that was optimistic, but not unrealistically cheerful, in which Adam Scott’s character Henry bails on a catering gig for an audition, proving that he hasn’t lost all faith in himself. Although while Futurama’s very first series finale was arguably its best –
– the show has mostly succeeded in generating new, similarly emotionally-resonant finales since it keeps disappearing and reappearing from existence, like the McRib of animated comedies.
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