This Week in Geek (3-09/06/13)

DVDs: With season 4 of Arrested Development coming out (haven't seen it yet), I decided to watch all the old seasons to catch up (never did finish season 3 which a friend had lent me). Got through the first two this week, and flipped the DVDs, so here I am trying to find something new and clever to say about a show that most of my readers will have already seen. Hm... Well did you know the French title is "Les Nouveaux Pauvres", a play on "nouveau riche", literally "The New Poor"? Oh the joys of living in a bilingual country! What else... what else... I guess all you really need to know is that Arrested in a brilliant comedy that Fox canceled too soon and which paved the way for other non-laughtrack, mockumentary sitcoms like The Office and the equally brilliant Parks and Recreation. And I love how it's not attached to any real kind of status quo beyond being true to its characters. If we talk extras, they are very similar from season to season. Each features cast and crew commentary on three selected episodes, each includes brief promotional material (for Fox and TV Land) and extensive (and usually funny) deleted and extended scenes, and each features an uncensored blooper reel. Season 1 has more stuff, including a making of featurette, a cast panel discussion, and what amounts to a complete soundtrack album with all the music cues and original songs from the first season. Season 2's only unique extras are the full school president election videos, though you'll have to look for them (left arrow on The Immaculate Election).

After watching The Man with the Iron Fists (the RZA's love letter to Shaw Brothers' kung fu flicks) on DVD, I don't have all that much to add to my theatrical review from last November. This IS an "unrated extended edition" with 12 minutes more, but the changes are minor (note that the theatrical version is also on the disc). It meanders a little more, giving some characters a few more lines here and there, but that's about it. The only remarkable addition doesn't affect the running time, it's a whole epilogue running next to the credits in which X-Blade returns to his love Chi Chi and finds her captured by bird men. It ties into the animal totem motif of the film, but in the most RIDICULOUS way. Just a fun WTF? Or the actual set-up for a sequel? If there is one, we'll certainly miss some of the characters that didn't make it alive, but I'd be game, birds and all. The DVD has about 25 minutes of deleted scenes, mostly the stuff covered in narration and montage in the film itself, and you can see why it wasn't used as is. Asian actors with a tenuous mastery of basic English and longueurs abound. There are also several making of featurettes, usually in the 1 to 2 minute range, just brief interviews and behind the scenes action I'm assuming were web promos. It's not much, but it's not bad for what it is.

RPGs: Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space RPG. The Shepherd Season 2 Episode 6: The Silk Road
Still on my 50th Anniversary kick, I tried my luck at reproducing the classic (and lost) serial "Marco Polo" for my players, who readily accepted that days would go by at a moment's notice, though we did cover them with musical montage, one of my favorite things to do in RPG sessions. At one point, they started suspecting Ping-Cho of being in an alliance with Tegana, and seeing their point (from the way I'd played and staged it), I almost turned her into a bad guy at the end, but then didn't. Part of me regrets it. Despite all that, the result wasn't too far from the show's, though the players did upgrade the minor character of Ling-Tau to romantic lead and made him achieve his potential as a hero and potential husband for Ping-Cho. I wanted to get a historical in the campaign before we switch into finale mode. Two episodes to go...

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
IV.v. Ophelia's Madness - Branagh '96

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Leave It to Binky to Legion Lost.


De said...

Glad you're enjoying Arrested Development. I ended up buying the series after a lot of pressure from friends to do so. Terrific stuff. Hoping to see Season 4 soon.

Siskoid said...

Yeah. I'd watched most of it a couple years ago and finally found the DVDs at what I thought was an affordable price, snatched them up.

I hope the S4 DVD won't be long in coming.

Doctor Mii said...

Fox canceling a brilliant series too soon. Not the first time. *cough* Firefly *cough*

Ken Begg said...

No network, ever, has put as much muscle, effort and probably money behind a show as Fox did with Arrested Development. I mean, think about it; an incredibly insular show (which I loved, by the way) that was kept on the air despite miniscule and diminishing ratings for three seasons. What, exactly, was suddenly going to make the audiences that had avoided the show finally start watching it?

I have to admit, if I were a network executive, I'd *never* worry about what fans were saying. No matter how heroic the measures supporting a show, you're going to take a beating anyway.

Siskoid said...

You're right, it was a critical darling, and won a few Emmies. That seemed enough for Fox to support it at first. Maybe it didn't get the proper scheduling slot for the type of show it was. I know I never caught it first run.

(A bit like Futurama, which yes, was supported for 4 seasons, but nevertheless was put way too early for the intended audience.)

Ken Begg said...

Well, yes, but unfortunately the audience it garnered was just very small. Fox ran full nights of episodes, they stripped the show at 10:30 PM one summer, they did everything they could to get people to watch it. I've never seen a network go to such lengths to aid a foundering series.

It was your classic 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink' scenario. The very specific tone that made the program such a delight to its fans (including, again, myself) was quite probably the reason it could never have garnered a large enough audience to justify it's rather large production budget.

Fox takes a lot of beating for canceling great shows. I just think it deserves at least some credit for being the network that keeps putting them on the air in the first place.


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