If you’re an “Arrested Development” fan, you probably pride yourself on being able to pick up all the levels of the various jokes that are piled on with an almost breathtaking density, but even the nerdiest of fans probably missed one of the weirdest inside beats this season. There are a number of jokes in the new series built around that weird early-’90s tax shelter production of “Fantastic Four” that was supposed to lock down the rights for Roger Corman, and on their own, those jokes are a bunch of fun.
But if you pay close attention, you’ll spot Josh Trank and Jeremy Slater in the episodes, and that’s a joke that won’t fully pay off until Fox releases their in-development reboot of “Fantastic Four,” which Josh Trank is set to direct, and which Jeremy Slater worked on as a writer. The notion of layering in a gag that won’t even fully make sense for a few years is one of the many reasons I love “Arrested Development.”
Maybe if they do another season they can plan to work in a joke about “Fables,” based on Bill Willingham’s 11-year-old comic series about fairy tale characters who had to flee their world and hide in modern-day New York. David Heyman, who produced the “Harry Potter” series, is set to bring the series to the big screen with Nikolaj Arcel directing and Jeremy Slater writing. Arcel directed last year’s “A Royal Affair,” which I did not end up seeing. I’d love to hear what it was that got Heyman to tap Marcel for the job, and I’ll certainly check out “A Royal Affair” to see for myself.
Slater, though… I get it. His unproduced script “Man Of Tomorrow” really makes the case for him writing these big comic movies, because it shows off his familiarity with archetypes and his ability to turn those into something humanly recognizable. I hope they crack this one, because it’s a hell of a series. I do worry that ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” might dilute the market a bit because of how similar they are in the broad description. What Willingham does with the idea, though, is powerful and fascinating, and he has a great understanding of myth and fantasy.
Full disclosure: Slater and I are repped by the same managers, but that has nothing to do with my excitement. He’s a writer who I feel is already overdue for his big moment, and this project is a huge step in the right direction.