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An illustration photo shows the logo of Netflix the American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media in Paris

photo courtesy of Reuters

The past few weeks have seen a rise in the cancellation of Netflix shows –from the extremely expensive The Get Down to the deeply dull Bloodline. Some have wondered whether this is a sign of the cracks in Netflix’s facade showing or the streaming content bubble finally bursting but for Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, this is only the beginning of Netflix establishing itself as a real media network.

“What really matters is I hope our hit ratio is way too high right now… we’ve canceled very few shows.” Hastings said to CNBC anchor, Julia Boorstin, about the company. “I’m always pushing the content team: ‘We have to take more risk, you have to try more crazy things. Because we should have a higher cancel rate overall.’”

Rather than looking at cancellation as a negative, Hastings has decided it’s proof of the company’s success and that he hopes to have many more cancelled programs for its library soon. Considering this and Netflix’s penchant for throwing ridiculous amounts of money at creators, here are a few show ideas for Netflix to green light and most likely cancel in the near future:

The New Testament:

Fantasy shows are all the rage and–with Game of Thrones going off the air soon–it’s time to find a replacement series. What better than to take it back to the original: the story of Jesus Christ, this time with that prestige television filter that all the people love these days. The last supper, the temptation of Christ by the Satan snake (I think that’s what happens), walking on water, the betrayal by Judas; these are all ripe ideas perfect for an hour-long overly drab and superficial television drama. It won’t make it past the first season if the Christians of America have anything to say about it.

Bad Boy Motivation:

Sean “Puffy” Combs aka Puff Daddy aka P Diddy is one of the greatest and volatile personalities out there and it is honestly motivating every time. No person has learned the art of berating greatness out of people except for him (just watch both seasons of Making The Band). I say fly Puff out to various places in America and have him give the Glengarry Glen Ross Alec Baldwin type speech to different unions, small companies, high school football teams or disgruntled rap groups. It’s inspirational to see common people achieve goals and it’s hilarious and a little uncomfortable to watch Puff Daddy yell at you because you took  a nap instead of trying to hustle for a few more minutes longer.

Freelancers!:

If you want a show that will be canceled quickly then how about a half-hour comedy about the world of freelance creatives. Casting a bunch of attractive young people who don’t get enough jobs a month to afford the ridiculously spacious apartment they occupy in Brooklyn is sure to bore many and piss off the people who actually freelance for a living. There will be incredible episodes such as the one where everybody is still waiting for a paycheck from a job they did 6 months ago or the one where they go to networking events for free food and to hopefully meet someone who can give them an actual job in media; there’s also my personal favorite: the one where they contemplate quitting and seeing if they can get an office job. This show will be doomed from the very start.

Give Lars Von Trier a show:

The recent Twin Peaks revival is notable not just for being a return back to a show that the world fell in love with 25 years ago but also because the new series is pure, uncut David Lynch. To see a David Lynch project free of oversight, notes and restrictions has been both maddening and exhilarating but it should also open the door for other directors to have that same opportunity. And since Netflix is now in the bold chances department, what would be a bolder chance than letting director and possible crazy person Lars Von Trier having free reign to make whatever he wants. It will almost sure be controversial, self-indulgent, insane, disturbing and will have people talking. It’s a win-win where Netflix gets to say they did something brave and they got to up their cancellation numbers.

Spend Netflix’s Money:

Ok so here me out: we get a host right, let’s just call him me. We give me a camera crew and a briefcase of an undisclosed ridiculous amount of money and it is my job to spend it all in under 48 hours. If The Get Down and Marco Polo are any indication, Netflix has no problem spending insane amounts of money on nonsense so let’s cut the middle man. Maybe I’ll go to Vegas and bet the entire thing on one game of Craps, maybe I’ll rent out a football stadium and throw a kegger or maybe I’ll pay for billboards for Planned Parenthood in red states; who knows, the sky’s the limit and it will almost surely make everyone reconsider everything that lead to this show existing –including Netflix’s desire to actually cancel shows rather than just financing good and sensible programs.

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So here we are. After 7 years of persistant purchasing/torrenting/renting; in-jokes amongst friends, message boards and pop culture blog comment sections and whispers of will-they, won’t-they: it’s finally here–new episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix.

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: there was no way that Arrested Development would truly thrive in this type of situation. The fevered anticipation of the series’ return as well as its increased popularity, thanks to the internet, made expectations way too high–not to mention the fact that, due to scheduling conflicts, all of the cast members weren’t able to consistently film together so instead the entire season is full of episodes dedicated to each character. As much as we’ve clamored and dreamed for this, nobody actually believed it would happen… and now that the day is here, it’s hard to know how to feel. There’s excitement in the air, as well as trepidation–even now this unedited babble is merely spilled over glee and conflict over what I’ve just watched and the aching need to write about it. Grantland’s Andy Greenwald posited on his mailbag the past Tuesday two questions (technically three, but only two matters): 1) Will the new season be any good? and 2) Will the new season be good enough?

The first one is an easy one to answer: Yes. It won’t shake up the world and it wasn’t without its duds. One of the things that has always helped AD is that, even in its weaker episodes (i.e. most of season 3),  the show thrived off of B, C or D stories from the other members of the Bluth family. Now, with each episode focused on specific characters, there are no B, C, or D stories and as a result–the duds really stand out. Not every character is meant to carry a full episode–especially full episodes that don’t adhere to a strict time format–and some of the storylines just don’t seem to stick, but the new season is definitely daring in its approach. It’s not just content to provide fan service (although there’s plenty) and it’s admirable that the show would take a risky approach like this. It doesn’t always work and it’s full of over-explanation, in an effort for a more “mainstream” audience to keep up. It gets grating at times–AD has always been great about respecting an audience’s intelligence–but overall it doesn’t get too out of hand. The pacing is a bit off, due to the way the episodes are structured. Most noticeably, the season is really, pretty dark. AD has always been great at balancing the heart of the show along with the dark undercurrent. There’s always a sense that these people love each other–even if it’s only because they have nobody else to turn to–but the new season focuses only on the darkness. At times it can be jarring. A lot of times. And you do get a very real sense that they’re building to something more: whether it’s another season, a movie or who knows (maybe a christmas special). It’s definitely the “empire strikes back” of seasons.

But let me get to the positives: this show is still very funny, very well written and well constructed. The world in which AD lives is a rich one and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in it. The standout episodes involve Tobias and Gob and Maeby (who is SERIOUSLY underutilized always). It’s always a joy to see Michael and George-Michael together, their relations goes through a lot of rough patches this season and it’s great watching the dynamic switch around. The season all together is a B+. Even with the duds, there’s enough comedy to make up for at least a few shortcomings.

Alas, now we get to the tough question: is it good enough? In a recent interview, Damon Lindelof (writer; “Lost”, “Prometheus”) stated, “my advice is you can’t win, and just tell your story.” He further added, “…a lot of them are going to be wrong, and it’s very hard for a human being to say, ‘I was wrong. You got me! Your way is better!’ Most people say, like, ‘My way is better, and because my way is better, I know your show better than you know your show.'” There’s no way for Mitch Hurwitz and company to win. There are millions of things that different fans want and feel entitled to receive from the show. There’s no way to meet all of them nor should they feel the need to. All they can really do is make the show they wanna make and see if it can stand up with the rest of the series. It’s pretty clear that–all constraints considered–they made the show they wanted to make. So while the show may not be “good enough”, it’s still fine. There are bits that are amongst the series best and are better than anything else on TV this past season; I’ve already found myself quoting things from the new season and there are plenty of sight gags and callbacks that work effectively.

You can’t please everyone nor should you try. There will be those who absolutely love this season and there will be those who deplore it. There will be debates, arguments, backlashes, backlashes to the backlashes and think pieces much longer, much more eloquent and well-written then mine. Ultimately, it will be time that has the final say so on this season. I think time will be kind to this season–there’s still a lot here to love–and I don’t think it’s far off from its complicated and rushed third season. Hopefully there is still money in the banana stand and we do get that movie but for now this will do: a sometimes good, sometimes underwhelming return to form. It may not be the height of excellence but, for me, I’m so happy to be around the Bluth family again (I’m getting ready for a second run through). Who would’ve thought a lowly rated show that FOX tried to burnoff in a two-hour block on the opening night of the Olympics would make such a huge impact on the lives of so many people. What a fun, sexy time for all of us.

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