I’m not the biggest TV freak, but it can give some comforting background noise on an otherwise quietly bleak night, and it provides something to look forward to on Thursday nights besides the weekly ritual rut of Chinese Food and drawing escape plans, which usually involve the hovercars and x-ray specs I find in the back of 1970s comic books. I’m still waiting for them to arrive.
One of the shows that I attempted to watch religiously was Arrested Development, the Emmy-nominated docu-comedy that lasted three tumultuous seasons on Fox, but finally gave up the ghost when it became clear that the lowest common viewing denomination was not being pandered to enough, instead replacing it with Skating With Celebrities. I’m pretty sure that this is a modern equivalent for one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I enjoy watching C-level celebrities being elevated into false glory and subsequently making asses of themselves as much as anyone else, but not at the cost of my favorite comedy. No, wait, I don’t enjoy it at all, because I have a soul.
After the demise of Arrested Development (all three seasons of which are now on DVD with great extras, so you can enjoy them for a delightful eternity), there was a big ol’ Bluth Family-shaped hole left behind. Sure, they knew that they weren’t destined to remain on the air and the writers wrote a viable conclusion to the whole series on short notice, but I wanted more.
Being a member of the online fan club, I got notification that Fox would be auctioning off props from the show on eBay. Mostly, it was wardrobe items, with all of the auctions accompanied by a photo of the actual item and a screenshot of two of where the item actually appeared in the show. Showing the prominence of the item in the storyline, as well as listing which episode it could be first seen in, was a huge confidence booster in choosing which items were important enough to pay a hundred bucks for. After weeks of missing auctions or being casually disinterested in various shirts and scarves from the show, they finally listed a couple of truly talismanic items from the show. They were essential additions to my prop collection, and I won the heck out of ‘em.
The first item was a small pillbox owned by G.O.B. Bluth (Will Arnett), and often employed as one of his magician’s ‘illusions’, containing Forget-Me-Now pills that would cause anyone who learned his secrets to suddenly forget them. Of course, the very premise of this is ridiculous and the pills were actually roofies, but the pillbox was an important item in a running joke. When the item arrived, I found that it still contained nine of the (fake) pills, which seem to contain corn starch. As far as I’m concerned, they contain pure Hollywood Magic Dust. For a show that produced no collectibles whatsoever (even Lost has action figures coming out), this is the closest that I could come to owning an aspect of something that brought me joy. It’s totally un-zen to want to possess that which brings us joy, but I’m willing to allow crass materialism creep into my life if it means that I can have a real pillbox of real (fake) Forget-Me-Now pills. Hell, anything zen about me left my presence about 5 years ago when I left it in the garage to make room for more action figures and it froze to death during one of the harsh New York winters.
The second item that I bid my heart out on was a true talisman from the show. Presumably, it was an incredibly valuable gold star in a black velvet case that a certain British spy (Charlize Theron) was earning from a government agent (Dave Thomas) through her duplicitous deeds. We saw the item a couple of times in a few episodes, its sheer desirability etched on Charlize Theron’s face. In the end, she ultimately attained the star, but it’s this screen-object-lust that made it an important item to possess. What object better to lust over that something clearly designed for object-lust?
Both items came with certificates of authenticity from the Fox Archives (which is important to look for when buying unusual, unique prop items), and while I have no immediate plans for either item, as they’re both bogglingly useless in any practical sense, it would be fun to display them as museum pieces in some context. Fox continues to offer up items from the show, from more wardrobe items to odds and ends that appeared onscreen, but I think that these items were undoubtedly among the most unique and desirable that I’ve encountered. If you’d just like to keep a bit of the show, you can snag a scarf for around 35 bucks or less, or you can browse all of eBay for many ongoing prop auctions, such as items from Prison Break and 24. With the recent and well publicized Star Trek auctions, TV props are finding the collecting spotlight, you might just find something from your favorite show on there… and be irrationally compelled to take it home with you.