"Arrested Development." The funniest show on television is all but dead. There's no official announcement yet, but all the signs are there, and if this short-lived thing of beauty even manages to deliver half of a season, consider that a sanctioned-by-Rome miracle.
The ratings are abysmal. Fewer than 4 million viewers, which puts it in cable territory. Despite what may have been one of its funniest episodes ever in the first week, nobody watched. This past Monday, even fewer people watched. So much for Emmy power. So much for Charlize Theron as a cameo draw.
Blame? Easy. Fox moved the series from Sunday to Monday, which was: (a) stupid, (b) a planned assassination or (c) all of the above. The network barely promoted the night switch -- a killer for viewers, especially those trying to sample 30 new series -- and sure enough, "Arrested Development" drew fewer viewers than last season. Worse, once on Monday, the series got almost no push. Now, there's one more episode before Major League Baseball pre-empts the show -- and Fox will air "Prison Break" repeats in that slot for a bit after that and before, ahem, bringing back "Arrested Development."
Yeah, that'll happen. Enjoy next Monday's episode. Chances are, everything after that will be dubbed "the lost episodes" on the next DVD. Here's how things get worse for Fox: "Kitchen Confidential" is also dying on Mondays. That means Fox hasn't been able to launch a decent sitcom in some time, and, no, "The War at Home" on Sundays doesn't count. If you watch that, you deserve it.
But it's true that the audience always decides. Always. And if it doesn't want "Arrested Development" but gloms onto the asinine "War at Home," three things are in play here: (a) Nielsen families have lame taste, (b) we get the television we really deserve and (c) most damning, the theory of sophisticated urban viewers is out the window. San Francisco was the 27th-ranked market for "Arrested Development." New York, Los Angeles and Chicago all tied for 21st. And Boston was 45th. So much for savvy. Let's move to Portland, Ore., -- it was the No. 1-ranked market for "Arrested Development."