Writer, musician, professional movie-ist. Josh likes his films the way he likes his food: preferably quite good.
2018’s Venom is almost impressively mediocre.
Perhaps it’s worth starting this Venom review with the confirmation that it isn’t as bad as Suicide Squad and Justice League. Yes, that is about the most unflattering compliment one could give. But it’s an important point. Venom isn’t great. But its failure isn’t the result of it being outright dreadful. It fails because it could have been so much better.
Venom tells the story of Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy. At the film’s beginning, Brock’s got his life together: He’s a leading investigative journalist, is engaged to Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), and appears genuinely happy. But after an interaction with evil Elon Musk-esque Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), his life begins to crumble. Soon after, Brock becomes infected with a symbiote, and the you know what starts hitting the you know fan.
All in all, that sounds like your standard origin story. Sure, Brock and his symbiote aren’t a classic superhero – more an anti-hero. But the ingredients were there for Sony to really make something of this. Plus, it’s Tom bloody Hardy.
Unfortunately, as if they’d chartered a private jet for a day and used it to run errands, the direction Sony took was very very boring.
Venom finds itself caught between lighthearted comedy and gritty action, ultimately achieving neither.
If Sony would have taken the Logan approach, Venom could have been badass. And it also would have made sense. The symbiotes are terrifying. They literally eat heads. An R-rating could have emphasised such terrifying…ness.
Instead, they went the family-friendly route, going safe with a PG-13 rating. Subsequently, to make up for the lack of gore, Sony chose to up the humour. It doesn’t work.
If you would have told me that I’d be attending a Venom movie where Venom is cracking jokes about being a loser, I would have said “Thanks so much but I do believe you’re incorrect.” I’m very polite.
That is what we got though. The symbiotes are portrayed as friendly, like a really loyal guard dog. Honestly, it almost makes the audience jealous that we don’t have our own pet symbiote.
And that’s because of the humour. Weak jokes litter the movie, and instead of adding quirk in the way so many Marvel films nail, it detracts from everything. It’s one thing to lighten the tone of a dark comic. But to lighten the dark characters spoils the whole thing.
When we did see those moments of action, the lack of any gore whatsoever stifled any opportunity to redeem Venom’s menace.
Thor is a PG character. Venom isn’t.
Ten years ago, Venom would have blown us away.
But now it’s impossible to not feel like this has been done before. We’re so used to these types of storylines. We’re so used to these tropes. Seriously, how many times do we need to have a mad scientist as the villain?
This specifically is another clear case of Marvel’s weak villains. Unfortunately though, this film struggles to nail many characters.
Tom Hardy is great, as you’d expect. But this isn’t the type of performance that draws a crowd. How could it be? He’s portrayed as a doofus and simultaneously one of the best investigative journalists in the world. It just doesn’t fit, and the rest of his character arc follows in this uninteresting, somewhat nonsensical manner.
Let’s just say a lot of Venom‘s characters lack a lot of dimensions.
Verdict on Venom
Ultimately a missed opportunity and a very forgettable outcome.
However, as I mentioned at the start this review, Venom won’t be the worst movie you’ll see. It doesn’t suck in a “How did anybody get paid to make this?” kind of way. If you love your superhero films, Venom adds to the cannon in an enjoyable, albeit simple, way.
But don’t expect any more than that. I mean, they made Venom loveable. There really isn’t much else to say.
We sat down with Shadowhunters star Dominic Sherwood, and got to hear his thoughts on the sad end of the series.
The following is a snippet from our full Dominic Sherwood interview. You can watch the 10-minute interview here:
It must be very moving seeing the way fans of the show have created the whole #SaveShadowhunters movement. Is there anything you want to share with them?
Yeah. It’s such an inspiring thing to see people from all over the world coming together and really spreading positivity in the name of our show. It’s people who don’t know each other, from different backgrounds, and they all care about this one thing.
I think for me the most important thing that we’ve seen – and it really fills my heart – is charities like The Trevor Project, managing to benefit them in the name of the show.
The SaveShadowhunters hashtag is amazing. But I like the Shadowhunters legacy. Because if this is the end of the show, I don’t want people spending their money trying to save something that maybe can’t be saved. I don’t know the answers to this. But I think what’s more important is, if this really is the end, moving forward we really leave something behind us that is going to make people smile and happy and be a real benefit for the world. So if we can, that’s what I’d like to do moving forward.
Convictus Esports Group will be hosting Australia’s first ever major Dota 2 event, The Melbourne Dota 2 Pro Series.
Yes, this is exciting. Very exciting. Convictus Esports Group, a collaboration between ZEN Gaming Lounge, Evolution Events and Blackshatan, supported by AKRacing and Twitch Australia, are bringing us Oceania’s largest Dota 2 tournament.
The event has a total prize pool of $50,000 AUD. The final stage of the tournament will be held at Plenary, Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre – a two day event spanning December 8th-9th. The main event will comprise eight teams – two international invites and six qualified groups from China, South East Asia and Oceania.
To get there, you need to make it through the qualifiers, which are held completely online. The two teams who survive the best-of-one single elimination bracket of the same event will advance to the main event in Melbourne.
September 1st -2nd – South-East Asia Qualifier – Online
September 8th -9th – Oceania Online Qualifier – Online
September 15th -16th – China Online Qualifier – Online
December 7th – Group Stages – ZEN Gaming Lounge
December 8-9th – Two Day Main Event – Plenary, Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre
All teams who make it to the final will have their flights and 5-star accommodation covered.
If you’re interested in attending the main event in a “I’m not one of the best Dota 2 players in the world” kind of way, a range of different-level tickets is available on sale at $59 for a single day entry and at $279 for a two-day VIP access.
In addition to the world class gaming, the event will also feature a cosplay competition, on-site gaming and an Esports market place.
Oz Comic-Con is hitting Brisbane on September 22-23, and Sydney on September 29-30. Dichen Lachman is the first guest to join the lineup.
Yes indeed, the first guest star of Oz Comic-Con Brisbane and Sydney has been announced, and it’s none other than Australia’s own Dichen Lachman.
Lachman is best known as Reileen Kawahara from Altered Carbon. Yet the actress has an impressive resume. She has also starred in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Supergirl, The 100 and Neighbours.
There is no doubt she is fast becoming one of Australia’s biggest actresses.
Lachman will participate in panels each day at the Sydney and Brisbane events, as well as photograph and autograph sessions with fans.
This is certainly an exciting start for September’s Oz Comic-Con’s lineup.
And if Oz Comic-Con Melbourne is anything to go by, Lachman is the first of many big names.
Melbourne featured an impressive list of Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Justice League), KJ Apa (Riverdale), Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2), Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash), Clare Kramer (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Katherine McNamara (Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments) and David Ramsey (Arrow).
Check out our Kat McNamara interview below, or our interview with David Ramsey, which can be found by following this very pretty hyperlink.
Yes, you should go to Oz Comic-Con.
Do you love any of the following: TV, movies, comic books, cosplay, anime, manga or gaming?
Then Oz Comic-Con is the place to be.
In addition to the amazing panels and meet-up opportunities, the con has workshops, masterclasses, very rare collectables. The list goes on.
It’s basically geek heaven.
Will you be attending?
A new clip from Ant-Man and The Wasp has emerged, revealing a fight between The Wasp and Ghost.
The latest clip of the upcoming Ant-Man and The Wasp film is certainly intriguing.
In it, we watch Evangeline Lilly’s The Wasp take on the film’s new villain Ghost, who is played by Hannah John-Kamen (for an explanation and bio of Ghost, click here). This is a messy, brutal battle.
While this is what only seems like the beginning of a lengthy fight scene, we do get the sense that Ghost has the upper-hand here.
The Wasp certainly utilises her powers. But Ghost’s ability to become invisible and intangible seems frighteningly difficult to counter.
The short scene also depicts Scott Land and Hank Pym watching the fight from a safe distance (in a vehicle).
Despite Wasp holding her own, they do appear worried about her safety. When Scott eventually heads out to help, Hank gives him what looks to be a new piece of Ant-Man technology, one that the genius inventor says is “still a work in progress.”
Scott looks quite intrigued, and Marvel fans are sure to be as well. Each Pym-made tech has a trend of being cooler than the last.
The clearest takeaway from this new Ant-Man and The Wasp clip is that Ghost is truly powerful. To defeat this villain, teamwork is not only advisable, but necessary.
We sat down with Greg Sestero for an interview before the launch of his first film since The Room, Best F(r)iends.
Hey, good to see you.
You too. Best Friends. I’ve got to start at the beginning, because right at the start it says ‘Inspired by true events’. What are those true events?
So, Tommy and I went on a road trip years ago, like in 2003. Up the Californian coast. I thought we were just going up there to have a good time; he thought I was going up there to try and kill him. And I wasn’t, but that was the way he saw it. So when I was writing the script, I thought, what could I pull from that? So that’s how the story started.
Wow. So how similar then is the relationship between Harvey and John in Best F(r)iends to you and Tommy in real life?
There are definitely similarities. I think that’s why we’re so lucky: our friendship just lends itself to storytelling. I think The Room – while obviously inspired by Tommy’s real life experiences – he wrote while we were friends, which I think bled into it. ‘The Disaster Artist’ is obviously a book about all that. Best F(r)iends is pulled from that. As a character-based story, with Tommy and I being such different characters, it’s easy to write.
In the opening sequence of The Disaster Artist film, different celebrities talk about The Room, and they say even the best directors couldn’t do something like it. Yet with Best F(r)iends, you manage to capture that quirkiness, that uniqueness. What was your writing process for it?
I think ‘The Disaster Artist’ really helped with learning how to write the character of Tommy. When I set out to write Best F(r)iends it was about writing a character that Tommy could inhabit that would feel natural to him. And I feel like he hadn’t been utilised properly in a film. So I placed him as a mortician, which I felt like he could show up and be himself and play to his advantage. And so because I know that character so well, it was relatively easy to write.
I look at these films and they almost do feel like they’re a genre of their own. Do you feel like other people could replicate it? Or do you think it’s just a chemistry that you and Tommy share?
Yeah I think it’s just a unique chemistry. It’s just two guys who should never normally be friends, but they share a common dream. Years of being roommates and taking road trips – I think a chemistry has been built up that’s hard to emulate.
Sure. What do you hope viewers get out of watching Best F(r)iends?
I hope they show up and feel an element of surprise. The Room has been something that has done its thing for 15 years. It surprised audiences initially, and I hope Best F(r)iends takes audiences in a direction that’s equally enjoyable. I hope the quality is elevated, and the audience take something different from it. I hope they get laughs and are intrigued by what the story’s saying.
You were inspired to act after watching Home Alone. Talk me through that.
It’s funny you say that, because just last week I got to go on Macaulay Culkin’s podcast. I wrote that script when I was 12 years old, and that was the dream: meet Macaulay Culkin and work with him. So we got to talk about it.
I love Christmas. I wasn’t interested in what I was doing at school. And I kind of needed a place I could disappear to. When I saw Home Alone, it struck up some place in my imagination, and I wanted to do something with that. So I ended up writing a screenplay with a role for myself opposite Macaulay Culkin, and I submitted it to John Hughes. The whole thing made me realise I wanted to do something creative.
John Hughes responded, didn’t he?
Yeah. Macaulay Culkin said that’s something John would do – he’s a very sweet man. And it made me think, oh wow, maybe this could get made. I mean, obviously it didn’t, but it still gave me that hope that I think you need when you’re trying to do something creative.
On that topic of directors and actors, do you have any you’d particularly like to work with in the future?
Yeah, I’ve always been a big fan of David Fincher, Dan Gilroy, Edgar Wright. Filmmakers that really take risks. It’s something to really to look up to.
Do you have a type of role you’d like to play that you haven’t done before?
Yeah, I’d like to do something totally different. I think what I loved about James Franco in The Disaster Artist was playing totally against type. Really stripping everything down and being raw, really connecting with a character that’s very different from you, that you related to, that you can bring to life, that you can have fun with. So I’d like to play something totally against type… whatever that may be.
Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers and actors?
I think just get out there and make something. Don’t try get it right first time. We live in a time now where you can make films, short films, and you can grab a camera or phone. Grab a group of people together who all want to be creative in different ways and make something.
I love Best F(r)iends. But the highlight for me was when ‘Volume One’ came up at the end. What can we expect from Volume Two?
Wow. Volume Two is crazy in a different way. It’s my favourite thing I’ve ever worked on. It’s really doing its own thing in terms of the characters that come in and out. It’s very very strange. I think a lot of the inspiration behind that was Breaking Bad, Psycho. More psychological films. I’m excited to unleash it, it’s gonna be great.
I’m excited to watch. So there was quite a space between The Room and your next project, which was Best F(r)iends. Do you have the next project in mind or are you just going to take a breath for a second?
I really want to make a horror film, that’s the next thing I want to do. We’re still finalising Volume Two, which will be coming out in the Fall – around October/November in Australia. And then I think a little break before I go make a horror film.
Do you have any ideas for the horror film?
I got a couple. I’ve got to figure out which direction to go in.
Cool. Do you plan on continuing to work with Tommy? Will he feature in your next project?
Well we completed the trilogy: The Room, Disaster Artist, and Best F(r)iends.
I think it’s about finding a story you want to tell and then going from there.
Makes sense. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Best F(r)iends is out now. So if you want to watch something very different, check it out. Prepare to be estranged when you walk in.
Well Greg, thanks so much for everything. And thanks for the film – I love it.
Awesome, thanks guys.
Hope you enjoyed this Greg Sestero interview. For a spoiler free, mini review of Best F(r)iends, click here.
Best F(r)iends, the first Greg Sestero/Tommy Wiseau cinematic collaboration since The Room, is exactly what you’d expect.
Greg Sestero, Mark of “Oh hi Mark” in The Room and writer of ‘The Disaster Artist’ (which was adapted into the James Franco film of the same name), writes, produces and stars in Best F(r)iends.
Greg plays a vagrant called John. Wiseau plays Harvey, an eccentric mortician. I’m clutching at straws here, but I think the plot is that they get involved in a shady business selling gold fillings.
If The Room is the Citizen Kane of bad movies, Best F(r)iends Vol. 1 is at least Oscar-worthy.
It’s written like a bad porno (or just any porno) and makes no sense. Exactly what fans of The Room will be hoping for.
Word count: 111. Film rating: Does it even matter?
Best F(r)iends is in select cinemas now. Volume Two will be released later this year.
Digital Fox sat down with Katherine McNamara after Shadowhunters’ heartbreaking cancellation. The show’s star shared some touching final words of goodbye.
The announcement that Shadowhunters is going to be cancelled has sent shockwaves through the series’ dedicated fan community.
The show, which first aired in 2016, is the second adaptation of the novel series, after the 2013 film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It is currently on its third and now final season.
Sitting down with Digital Fox in the lead up to Oz Comic-Con, lead star Katherine McNamara was visibly upset by the news of Shadowhunters’ cancellation, saying she was just as surprised the fans.
McNamara also asked to send a message to the awesome fans of the series. This is what she said:
“I wanted to say a thank you to all of the fans out there, who have been with us on this journey. Those who have either been fans of the book, or those who are new to the story – those who have loved it and cared about it as much as we have. We love you guys and we hope you stick with us in the future too.”
Fans’ #SaveShadowhunters has gone viral, and McNamara also emphasised how much she appreciated this. She is unsure where the future of the show will go – if there will be a future – but promised an epic end to Season 3.
Here is the full interview:
The first Mortal Engines trailer should get every dystopian sci-fi fan excited.
The people behind the scenes of Mortal Engines are enough of a selling point.
Directing the epic adventure is Oscar-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong). And joining him are the filmmakers behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay. Hey there Peter Jackson, we love you.
Mortal Engines is also an adaptation of Philip Reeve’s award-winning book series of the same name.
What I’m saying is, be excited. And that’s before seeing the trailer
The Mortal Engines trailer
The first Mortal Engines trailer shows the high quality aesthetic you’d expect from a man of Christian Rivers’ calibre.
This is a dark film. Immediate comparisons that jump out are Mad Max: Fury Road and Blade Runner. And if you want to be compared to some films, those aren’t bad.
Given that so many of the creators were involved in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (Zane Weiner and Amanda Walker, both involved in The Hobbit, are producers), elements of those franchises are also visible in the trailer.
One thing’s for sure though. This will be one hell of a visual spectacle.
What is Mortal Engines about?
The trailer reveals glimpses of an enthralling and epic plot.
Thousands of years after civilisation was destroyed by some near-apocalyptic event, a new way of living has been created by humankind.
Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns.
In the trailer, we watch Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) stumbling into the path of dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Tom is a lower-class apprentice from the great traction city of London. Hester is a dangerous fugitive with a personal vendetta against Thaddeus (as it reveals in the trailer, he murdered her mother).
And that evil dude Thaddeus, played by Hugo Weaving (The Matrix Trilogy, Lord of the Rings), wants to destroy the world. (Which has already been destroyed, but you know, plot).
Tom and Hester are opposites. Yet while their paths should never have crossed, they end up forging an unlikely alliance – one destined to change the course of the future.
Stomping Ground Brewery, in conjunction with Oz Comic-Con, are launching the first ever Comic–Can.
Have you ever been at a bar, sipping on some cold beer and thought, “This is nice, but it would be even nicer if I was reading a comic”? Sure you have – who hasn’t?
Well, your prayers have been answered my friendly internet… friend.
Over the course of 2018, comic fans will be graced with three comic-cans (that rhymes, high five). The first is to celebrate Oz Comic-Con’s venture to Melbourne (Queens Birthday Weekend – June 9/10). And the second two will be released later in the year at Sydney and Brisbane’s Oz Comic-Con.
These aren’t just cans with comics on them…
The Stomping Ground Brewery comic-cans’ artwork has been crafted by renowned comic artist, Wayne Nichols. Nichols has drawn for some small, underground names like Marvel, The X-Files, and Star Wars.
And the three cans combine to tell a story. If you get all three cans, it will reveal a tale celebrating cosplay, pop-culture, and the wonderful Aussie cities Oz Comic-Con visits.
That being said, simply securing three cans is not an easy feat. The comic-cans are a very limited edition. Such a unique and awesome product like this is bound to become a serious collectors’ item.
Safe to say, this one’s going straight on our office shelf. After we drink it. After I drink it.
In a remarkable series of events, Benedict Cumberbatch has come to the rescue of a Deliveroo cyclist being attacked by muggers.
Yes, you read that correctly. After witnessing a Deliveroo driver being beaten up by a gang of muggers, Benedict Cumberbatch (of Dr Strange and Sherlock Holmes fame) stopped his London Uber and jumped out to come to the victim’s defence.
The four muggers had smashed a bottle over the victim’s head, and looked ready to commit serious harm. They tried to steal his bike. And then Cumberbatch intervened.
Witnesses have explained how they watched Cumberbatch leap from his Uber and into the fight, dragging each of the four muggers away from the cyclist. They then fled.
Cumberbatch told The Sun: “I did it out of, well, I had to, you know?”
The madness doesn’t stop there though. The incident happened just around the corner from – hold onto your hats – Baker Street. Yep, the home of his character and iconic detective, Sherlock Holmes.
The Uber driver, Mr Dias, 53 – who fittingly described Cumberbatch as a “superhero” – joined in on the fight, but made it clear who was top dog.
“I had hold of one lad and Benedict another. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He was very brave. He did most of it, to be honest. They tried to hit him but he defended himself and pushed them away. He wasn’t injured. Then I think they also recognised it was Benedict and ran away.”
Mr Dias continued: “It all got a bit surreal. Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street.”
After the attackers fled, Cumberbatch embraced the cyclist (who has not been hospitalised), and presumably flew off to some secret superhero cave.
The world is a weird place.
Since it first aired in 2003, Arrested Development has earned itself a cult following. With Season 5, that fanbase will only grow.
Arrested Development has a curious history. Between 2003 and 2006, the comedy’s first three seasons aired on Fox. And then it was cancelled. Seven years later in 2013 (if that maths is incorrect I totally understand if you stop reading), the series was granted a fourth season by our Lord and Saviour Netflix (amen). It was met with vocal ambivalence. Then, after another five years (2018 go maths), season five graces Netflix.
So the trend of Arrested Development is, let’s just say, inconsistent. It’s comparable to my spotty relationship with gym. That is if gym wasn’t me struggling to maintain fitness motivation and was instead a hugely popular TV series.
And Arrested Development is hugely popular. It’s the kind of show that, if you were to bump into a stranger at a party who was also a fan, your conversation would be fuelled for hours. When the long-awaited Season 4 arrived on Netflix, statistics revealed that in its first weekend, it received double the amount of streams than Netflix’s previous original, House of Cards. Ten percent of people even watched the entire fifteen episodes before the opening weekend finished!
So with its patchy history, how did Arrested Development become such a cult hit?
The Fox Seasons and Why They Were So Good
The first three seasons of Arrested Development are fantastic. No true Arrested Development fan (I don’t know what an untrue fan is but the point stands) would put Season 4 in the same category: This is authentic AD.
Creator Mitchell Hurwitz packs each episode with comedic voltage, and each scene the same. The plots are absurd yet believable. And the cast is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Seriously, each member of the Bluth family could have its own spin-off (Tobias first please). They are all vivid, enthralling, and unique.
There’s Michael (Jason Bateman), the straight, sane member of the family, and his son George Michael (Michael Cera… woo) who is similar. But from then on, everyone is just… mad.
There are Michael’s siblings. Gob (Will Arnett) is a magician who has been kicked out of his own alliance of magicians for revealing the workings of his illusions. Buster (Tony Hale) is a mummy’s boy (understatement) prone to panic attacks. Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) is the very spoilt sister whose passions twitch between whatever will aid her ego.
Tobias Fünke (David Cross) is Lindsay’s ‘I’m-rebelling-against-my-parents’ choice of husband. After administering CPR on a sleeping stranger, Tobias loses his psychology license, redefining himself as an actor. I’ll just leave this here.
Lindsay and Tobias’ only child is Maeby, who is often completely forgotten about by her parents, leaving her with a confronting amount of maturity.
And then there are the parents. Lucille (Jessica Walter), mother, alcoholic, exact clone of Walter’s Malory Archer in Archer. And George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), the massively corrupt real estate developer who causes most the family’s troubles.
But it’s the cast as an ensemble that makes Arrested Development so great. The interactions between the family members are truly hilarious, but they also possess something intangible that reels you seductively into their dysfunctionality, as if you’re watching something you shouldn’t. Check out this little gem, featuring the omniscient narration of Ron Howard (who is also the show’s Executive Producer).
Ultimately, it is the comedy that makes Arrested Development so good. Sometimes a little risque (the show definitely has more incest jokes than average), Arrested Development stands out for being absurd and outlandish.
It’s just really funny, okay?
The first three seasons of Arrested Development earned widespread critical acclaim, boasting a number of Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
Yet in 2006, after receiving low viewership on Fox, Arrested Development was cancelled.
There were offers to move the show elsewhere. Yet Hurwitz admitted that a few of the actors were ready to move on, and he didn’t want to just create more episodes to appease hungry fans: “I was more worried about letting down the fans in terms of the quality of the show dropping.”
The cancellation helped foster the show’s cult reputation.
There is a certain enigma to the cancellation of shows. In Arrested Development’s case, enigma was coupled with the belief that Fox (and maybe many of Fox’s viewers) were stupid (no offence Fox and Fox viewers).
Because as I said, Arrested Development was not only great, it was deemed great by the critics. So perhaps the hardcore group of fans the series had amassed felt a little like how you feel when your favourite musician isn’t appreciated by the mainstream: protective, and as if you have better taste than the rest of earth.
What’s left is a sub-culture of admirers.
DVD’s were purchased. Fan-made Arrested Development-dedicated websites were popping up all over the interwebs. And the growing cult following strapped themselves in to the hope of a fourth season.
Season 4 and Growing the Fanbase
Naturally, when the fourth season finally arrived, existing fans were over the moon.
Yet that enthusiasm didn’t last long. While much of the cast were near-unknowns for the first three seasons, by the time Netflix resuscitated the series, the actors had hit the A-list. From starring in movies to starring in TV series to starring in the Blue Man Group, getting the band back together for a new season proved a logistical nightmare.
As a result, the show’s creators settled on crafting a massively interwoven storyline, where each episode would centre around one particular character.
This caused the loss of a huge part of what made Arrested Development so great: the family ensemble I discussed earlier.
But for many, Season 4 served not as an end point, but as an entrance into the brilliant previous seasons and the wonderful world of the Bluth family.
It’s hardly like Arrested Development Season 4 sucks. In comparison to most the crap on TV these days (grr I’m an old man get off my lawn etc etc), it’s positively excellent. The writing is still sharp, the actors are still fantastic, and the jokes still make you laugh out loud (or ‘LOL’, as I believe the kids are saying). No existing fans would boycott the Netflix revival, they’d just say it doesn’t compare to what came before it.
And there’s something to say for the instant streaming, no ad break nature of Netflix. One of my Arrested Development friends and I (also just known as ‘friends’) were discussing how Fox’s ad breaks would have impaired the show’s rhythm.
Arrested Development is a comedy that doesn’t have time to breathe, so creating that time would only hamper its quality. In Netflix, just like the DVD’s of diehard fans, Arrested Development found a suitable home.
All the Right Ingredients For a Cult Classic
I hate to be that guy, but the Cambridge dictionary defines cult (in the non-Scientology sense) as “a thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.”
It’s worth highlighting this, because even though I’ve made it sound like it’s the greatest bit of television ever created, some people really don’t like Arrested Development. Actually, quite a lot of people. This was made glaringly obvious by the Fox ratings, yet Netflix hasn’t changed that. I’ve had so many conversations with people who used to be my friends, where they simply shrug and say, “I just don’t get it.”
I’m sure that partially comes from the show’s weirdness. Plot points like Buster losing his hand and replacing it with an interchangeable hook are, well, strange. They’re hilarious, but strange, and you’re unlikely to find gags quite like it in your average sit-com.
Fans of the show find this hilarious. But comedy is subjective, and I guess some people just incorrectly think the comedy of Arrested Development isn’t comedic.
That in itself helps shape a cult following, with fans defining themselves against those who don’t enjoy the show. Division hardens admiration.
It is also important to consider Arrested Development in the context of its release. Arrested Development isn’t just unique because it has unique characters and a unique plot. Its entire structure is new.
Up until the early 2000s, every TV comedy featured canned laughter. This had an underestimated influence on these shows’ writing. Dialogue and jokes were constructed around the fake laughs, rather than the humour being slipped naturally into conversation. Check out this clip from Friends without the laugh track. The first time I watch this it blue my mind.
Arrested Development was one of the first American sit-coms to ditch the laugh track. Other laughless shows of the same time included Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (US) and Scrubs. You’ll notice each of these arguably have cult reputations too.
The consequence of not relying on a laugh track challenges the writer to make jokes that can stand in isolation. Put simply, the show needs to be authentically funny.
And when watching Arrested Development, you can almost feel Hurwitz playing with that. The humour is absurd and original, even spasmodically dipping into slapstick. It’s relentless, and in ways it’s revolutionary. The influence of this style of writing on newer shows like Community and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is blatant.
The nature of the show’s writing also lends itself to being watched over and over and over again – a prerequisite for a cult hit. You could watch Arrested Development ten times, and each time you’d pick up something new.
There are a few reasons for this. A large part is the series’ use of running gags. Jokes that begin in Season 1 could re-emerge seasons later. The jokes work by themselves, but when you recognise them as part of their bigger picture, the pay off is huge.
Yet the joke-writing is also deeply layered. Arrested Development uses puns like I’ve never seen. Consider that earlier example of Buster and his hook hand. Entering the ocean, Buster’s hand is bitten off by a ‘loose seal’. Loose seal. Looseal. Lucille. It’s a subtle but not-so-subtle joke about Buster’s mummy issues/obsession.
Arrested Development is littered with hidden gags and foreshadowings like these. Fans get a thrill out of watching them all unravel. Again, this would have have been challenging on Fox, yet perfect for the on-demand Netflix.
Oh, and George Michael is also Michael Cera’s breakout role, and that dude’s got his own cult following. CULT FOLLOWINGS UNITE.
A Show That Will Only Grow In Popularity
For so many reasons, Arrested Development is a great show. And those reasons have hooked itself a dedicated and admiring fanbase.
With Season 5 being released, that small cult following that championed Arrested Development in the wake of cancellation will only get bigger. And rightfully so. Arrested Development truly is one of the funniest TV comedies ever.