On the Tenacious D message board A Special Thing, genius-level comedian (we're being sincere for a change) Patton Oswalt passes along a conversation he had with David Cross about the still non-canceled Arrested Development's future:
The Thursday after I got back from Aspen, Cross and I had dinner, and he was telling me why it made sense that FOX had scaled back the episode order, and he described this convoluted discussion he had with a FOX programming guy. Here's what it boiled down to:
* The FOX guy said, and David grudgingly agreed, that A.D. would get KILLED during sweeps, which would then give FOX a comfortable, public excuse for killing the show outright.
* This was also the reason that A.D. wasn't originally given the slot after THE SIMPSONS — if it had such prime real estate from the git-go ("the "Glengarry leads") and then blew it, FOX would again have another, no-fault excuse to kill it
* In other words, this the FOX programmer's twisted way of PROTECTING the show, and making sure it would be brought back for a third season, since...
* ...the programmer admitted, at the end of his discussion with Cross, that FOX's fall lineup is atrocious, and FOX knows it. If FOX were to cancel A.D., and put out its ongoing slate of shit, the TV critics would have a field day. The repeated-into-autism story would be, "FOX cancels ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and puts THIS shit on?"
* Cross then ended this by saying, "Keep in mind, this is FOX, so all of that could be true, and they could still go and cancel it."
By that time the food came — crusted trout and pork chops, plus a bottle of Rusden Driftsand. And thoughts of FOX went away.
A fascinating look into the complex system of rationalizations whirring away in the mind of a programming executive, no? We wish that we hadn't already used the word Zen today, because it's so very Zen to help a television show succeed by taking it off the air, denying it a favorable time-slot, and cancelling the production of new episodes that could be put on against weaker competition in the summer. That whole department at Fox must've eaten fortune cookies for a month to come up with such an ingenious plan.