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How "Arrested Development", The Dark Tower, and The Lone Ranger Are All Connected

By Alexander Joenks | TV | June 4, 2013 |

By Alexander Joenks | TV | June 4, 2013 |

Occasionally the corner of your mind starts to tug a little loose bit of string, and as Weezer explained so eloquently in their cautionary tale of yarn abuse Undone, sometimes the entire damned sweater ends up in a pile on the floor. After watching the fourth season of “Arrested Development”, my mind kept returning to the punchline “you’re not charring my tree.”

It was funny, a great dig at Jerry Bruckheimer’s logo, but then the string kept going and going, and I found myself waist deep in destroyed sweater. Constant reader, we’re going down the rabbit hole.

“You’re not charring my tree”: at face value a reference to Bruckheimer’s logo. But the phrase “Char-you tree” is a repeated phrase in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower meaning human sacrifice, and most particularly of a tree on which a person is sacrificed in order to bring good crops. At its best it means noble sacrifice for the greater good, and at its worst the sacrifice of an innocent for material gain. It’s referenced for the final time when Oy sacrifices himself in the last volume of the series, dying impaled on a tree branch, while fighting Mordred the spider.

On “Arrested Development”, did you catch the name of the character who utters “you’re not charring my tree”?

Spyder Foode.

It’s on a name plate on John Krasinski’s desk. Oh, and just to drive the point home, Bruckheimer’s building is always referred to as “Bruckheimer Tower” in dialog and in transition text.

Consider that Ron Howard is in charge of the movie and television rights to The Dark Tower. It was originally intended to be an interconnected series of television shows and movies. The project was put on hold the same week that Bruckheimer’s The Lone Ranger was put on hold back in 2011, leading to a pile of trade publications linking the two films in articles because they were both loosely categorized as westerns. Bruckheimer got The Lone Ranger back up by cutting a fifth of the budget, primarily by juggling the shooting schedule so that they could use a significantly smaller crew. Human sacrifice.

Ron Howard wouldn’t cut The Dark Tower, but he liked the idea of intermixing television and films and took that idea to Mitch Hurwitz, which was the starting point for developing “Arrested Development” Season 4. That direct connection between the projects has been documented in interviews and such. So the refusal to “char-you tree” like Bruckheimer, killed The Dark Tower project, but led to Arrested Development, which then symbolically referenced that fact.

Some reviewers pointed out that they were disappointed that Howard wasn’t snarkier about Bruckheimer. Snark? Howard didn’t need snark the way he brought in the hard calibers in the deep subtext.

I don’t care if this is finding connections where there aren’t really any. I had so much fun I blue myself.