Arrested Development *** 1/2 (Out of four)
8:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Reefer Madness *** (out of 4)
8 p.m. Saturday, Cable
If "Arrested Development" doesn't get a third season from Fox, fans of the Emmy-winning comedy will be as crushed as George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) appears to be for a fleeting moment in the season finale.
The crushing moment in the basement of a collapsing family house occurs when his grandson, George-Michael (Michael Cera), is locked in a forbidden kiss on the couch with the girl, Maeby (Alla Shawkat), who may be his cousin. It is one of several laugh out-loud highlights.
Marc Cherry, the creator of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," also pops up in a cameo to give some desperately needed attention to the low-rated series about a highly dysfunctional family headed by a corrupt businessman. Cherry's show is on the protest hit list of George-Michael's conservative girlfriend, Ann (Mae Whitman).
"It is a satire," defends Cherry.
So is "Development," the series dryly narrated by Ron Howard that has won over more critics than regular viewers. Fox cut its order of episodes this season from 22 to 18, a sad development that suggests the season finale, which airs at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Channel 29, could also become the series finale.
It was supposed to get a ratings boost this season by following "The Simpsons," but the long-running animated hit isn't as successful as it once was for Fox now that ABC owns Sundays (with Cherry's considerable help).
Peter Liquori, the new head of Fox Entertainment, is expected to make the final call. Since he came over from FX, one assumes that he'll reward quality. At the very least, you would think "Arrested" would return somewhere, perhaps on Fox's entertainment cable network, which has critical favorites "The Shield" and "Rescue Me" in its lineup.
If Sunday's non-stop episode, "Righteous Brothers," ends up as the series finale, at least it will leave fans laughing loudly. Creator Mitchell Hurwitz tries to pull a Bryan Adams and "do it for you." Adams' syrupy song, "I Do It For You" is a significant refrain of the plot.
The episode resolves the season-long story line that found George Sr. hiding from the police in the attic of the shoddy model home that his company made. Meanwhile, his twin brother Oscar, the one with hair, is romancing George Sr.'s wife, Lucille (Jessica Harper). The situation has put his old reliable son, Michael (Jason Bateman) in a legal pickle and also threatened to fracture the relationship with his artistic, musically-impaired brother Gob, (Will Arnett).
The odd relationship between Michael's unhappy sister, Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and her depressed husband, Tobias (David Cross), also takes a surprising jealous and funny turn.
The finale is loaded with comical "lessons" about brotherly love, forbidden love, jealousy and hair loss caused by stress. If it is the end, fans of the series will leave with "that loving feeling" that the Righteous Brothers used to sing about.
Fans of "Development" and satire probably would be the audience for Showtime's lively and colorful musical version of "Reefer Madness" (8 p.m. Saturday, pay-cable).
There are some minor beefs about "Reefer." Set in the 1930s, it is a bloody good time, though the lyrics rely too much on silly sounding rhymes. (Gee, I just did that myself).
One presumes the lyrical silliness is on purpose, which distinguishes it from the unintentionally silly 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film that inspired this version.
Based on the award-winning musical staged in Los Angeles and New York, the tongue-in-cheek "Reefer" has a first-rate case that includes Alan Cumming, Kirsten Bell ("Veronica Mars"), Christian Campbell, Neve Campbell ("Party of Five"), Steven Weber ("Wings") and Ana Gasteyer.
It is staged as a film within a film. Cumming stars as a Lecturer who comes to small-town America to show a film that warns parents of the dangers of pot. Those citizens who are skeptical of the film's exaggerations are ridiculed and labeled un-American.
In the Lecturer's story, a perfect teen, Jimmy Harper (Campbell, reprising his stage role), is seduced by the evil local drug supplier (Weber) into trying pot. Jimmy becomes a very bad boy, with pot and primarily sex on his mind. It threatens his relationship with a beautiful blond sweetheart (Bell) who doesn't have many brain cells to waste. She doesn't realize that "Romeo and Juliet" ends tragically and aspires to have that kind of relationship with Jimmy.
Kevin Murphy, head writer and co-executive producer of Cherry's "Desperate Housewives," wrote the screenplay with his long-time writing partner, Dan Studney. Murphy also is credited as lyricist.
The songs aren't particularly memorable, though I don't doubt they would inspire a stage audience to get involved and give them the "Rocky Horror Show" treatment. The dancing and staging is much more interesting. Of particular note, is a risky number in which Jimmy hallucinates into believing he is getting a singing lecture from Jesus (Robert Torti).
My guess is this strange, intoxicating and glorious-looking musical eventually may become a cult film classic, too.