on November 8, 2006
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT's rocky history is well known. Loved by critics and its fans, it fought to find an audience, and its final season was a short affair. However, the ride from the shows premier (included uncensored and expanded along with the aired version) to its conclusion (and, YES, it has a conclusion) is hilarious and worth many returns. There are so many jokes and resonating gags that multiple viewings are REQUIRED, but your first visit to the world of the spoiled Bluth family will be a reward for unfamiliar viewers.
Here are three seasons of laughs. The series begins with the arrest of the Bluth patriarch and continues as the clan's only responsible member, Michael (portrayed by Jason Bateman), tries to keep the family's business afloat while his mother, siblings, and other family members selfishly grab for every freebie and dollar. His mother, Lucille, is a cold, controlling alcoholic whose loyalty to her family keeps her one step from pure villainy. His siblings include an older brother, Gob, a magician (of little skill), a younger brother, Buster, a mama's boy who eventually loses a body part to a nasty seal, and a sister whose marriage is ... complicated. Throw in a long-suffering son infatuated with his cousin and an uncle who is the twin of his father, and you can see how complicated Michael's life becomes.
Not your average family, not your average TV comedy (this is NOT a sitcom performed live in front of a studio audience but is filmed more like a documentary with the camera floating around like an unseen voyeur -- think the old comedy series SOAP updated a la THE OFFICE). The jokes come fast and furious. It's all absurd and incredibly entertaining.
For the record, the series is presented widescreen, and there are deleted scenes and audio commentaries for selected episodes. To tell you the truth, I haven't even skimmed these extras, but I have watched the series in its entirety far too many times to disclose without embarrassing myself. It's too bad that ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT didn't achieve the ratings necessary to keep it afloat, but it has more laughs than comedies that lasted twice as long.
on December 4, 2006
I'm not usually one for superlatives or hyperbole, but this truly is the best TV show I know of. It's clever, it's hilarious, it's self-referential, it's perfectly written and flawlessly acted, it dragged me along from episode to episode like some kind of addict. And when it was over -- I mean, really really over -- I felt a bittersweet mixture of the loss of future possible episodes and a total satisfaction in having been well and thoroughly entertained.
As for the DVD set, in my mind, the only reason to own a TV series on DVD is if I feel I'll watch the shows again and again. And with these, there is no question in my mind. There's more to them than you can usually get in one viewing, and they just get better each time. The only concern for me is whether I should buy an extra set in case my primary set gets damaged. It's THAT good.
on November 27, 2006
FOX really hit a wall by cancelling one of TV's most promising shows. It's always depressing watching a good thing go up in flames and well, viewers can thank Rupert Murdoch and his excellent team at FOX for this. Then again, if they brought back the horrendously repetitive Family Guy, it shouldn't be a problem bringing back something of this caliber, which by the way is absolute excellence.
What else is there to say?
With some of the best writing in television since the early days of Seinfeld, Mitchell Hurwitz is an absolute genius making Arrested Development one of the best shows to hit television airwaves. Narrator Ron Howard fittingly tells the story of each episode with humor and a colliding sense of foreshadowing that has expectations running high for hilarious disasters to ensue.
Jason Bateman plays Michael Bluth, a family man and widower of his late wife, who comes into the business after his father, George Sr.(Jeffrey Tambor) is incarcerated for an Enron-esque scandal. The surrounding family, whose cast includes the equally exhilerating David Cross alongside newer faces Will Arnett and Michael Cera, adds ridiculous subplots that blend a healthy mixture of realism and surrealism.
Each episode somehow tops the predessesor and it's impossible to try to understand how a show of this magnitude and comedic epic was able to be taken away. Perhaps buying this DVD will help bring it back and as sorry as I am to say that the DVD enticed me into the television show, hopefully the same can be said of you reading this now.
More buyers means more viewers...
Come one, come all!
on December 4, 2006
The Nielsen ratings did a huge dis-service to the writers, cast, crew, Fox and the viewing audience, by having this show culled prematurely.
This is without doubt one of the most original, entertaining and genuinely funny TV shows you will ever see. It's utterly addictive, to boot.
Given that Friends aired for ten years, it's a mystery why Arrested was given only two and a half. A crime.
You will not be disappointed!
Buy and enjoy!
What made "Arrested Development" great also doomed it to inevitable ratings failure: it was the sitcom series that demanded to be watched in its entirety in sequence. Debuting just prior to the saturation of Tivo/DVRs, it failed to quickly capture a mainstream audience. By the time the critical acclaim was pouring in, many would-be viewers tuned in for a taste, only to be frustrated by obscure plot references, running jokes, and a huge cast for a comedy.
On the other hand, all of this makes "Arrested Development" the perfect show for viewing on DVD. This set includes the entire run of the show - three seasons. In a good news/bad news proposition, the show's creators knew well in advance that Fox was cancelling it, which allowed them to script an actual ending to the entire saga. Most shows simply disappear with all of their loose ends dangling these days, but this isn't the case with AD.
There isn't anything new about this release vs. the prior individual season releases - it's simply those three sets bundled together. However, this bundle is marked down significantly compared to the individual cost of the prior sets. So, while the long-time devotee doesn't get any new content here, anyone who was tempted to try out this monumental achievement in TV comedy is now able to do so at an incredible price. Even the packing is nice - the eight discs are in slimline cases so they won't eat up too much of your shelf space.
Buy two - you'll like it so much, you'll want to give it to a friend, too (I have twice already).
on December 4, 2006
Never again can I imagine loving a show more than I do this one. It was with the saddest of hearts that I learned of its impending cancellation. After it went off the air I no longer had any shows that I made it a point to watch, other than The Office. No matter how many times I watch these episodes I catch something new. Something that turned out to be foreshadowing a future event in a later episode, a callback to a previous episode that I hadn't caught before, or just more hilarious lines that I couldn't hear over my own laughter. You can not possibly go wrong with buying this series.
on December 5, 2006
FOX just loves to cancel outstanding series. They singlehandedly dismantled what I think are the two best shows to have aired in this decade: Firefly and Arrested Development. When I saw the deal for the complete AD DVD set at such a bargain price I pounced... no way could I let this deal pass without adding one of the greatest TV shows of all time to my DVD collection.
Arrested Development was a brilliant new approach to the sitcom. Like some have mentioned, the fact that it was a running story could throw you off if you were jumping in in the middle of a season, or missed an episode. But the humor was exquisitely funny and cutting-edge... they managed to really walk the finest of lines without crossing over into territory that would have pushed them into a late-night slot or relegated them to a cable-network-only show. In some respects, it would have been interesting to see how the show would have played out on a premium network where they could really push the limits of good taste, but in a way the show was just that much funnier for the fact that the writers managed to go right up to the edge of what was allowable and just hold it there. Perhaps if they had that little bit more freedom that a cable network like F/X or Showtime would have allowed them, it just wouldn't have been as funny.
The show touches on so many fascinating but sensitive subjects over the course of the three seasons, with many interleaving arcs. Running through the whole thing is the clever scheming of the imprisoned Bluth patriarch (played by Jeffery Tambor), and how his family manages to unwittingly sabotage his every move. David Cross is brilliant in a disturbingly funny way (who could forget his audition for a part as an understudy for the Blue Man Group?), and Jason Bateman is charming as the overburdened prodigal son trying to return home to put things right while trying to maintain a sane relationship with his own teenaged son despite the familial chaos going on around them. Each of the actors in this series is so well-cast, even right down to the small recurring roles like Henry Winkler as the Bluths' bumbling lawyer.
This was one of the funniest, smartest comedies to air in a long time, and unfortunately it fell into the hands of FOX, who appear to not know what to do with a good thing when they find one, so they proceeded to demolish it and finally succeeded at destroying it by the third season. Sometimes TV networks have to realize that ratings don't reflect the true value of a show like this... While Arrested Development didn't have Seinfeld-like numbers, I think this show will have legs in reruns and DVD sales, and FOX will be sorry that they canned this show after only three seasons.
on May 10, 2008
It's that time once again, faithful readers. Time to stop attacking the wretched dross available on this site and embrace the very best things that makes The Curmudgeon NOT wish hot, burning death on everyone on the planet. In short - its a time of celebration. And hey - YOU'RE invited.
When talking about something you like, its all too easy to get caught up in hyperbole, so that something pretty good gets described as The Best Thing Ever or something along those lines. The Curmudgeon is not guilty of this, obviously, but check out any number of reviews by some of the knuckle-draggers on this very site, and you'll see what I mean.
But all the hype, all the praise and, yes, all the hyperbole, for THIS show, for this wonderfully written, expertly directed, magnificently cast show, is totally justified.
It's rare to find a sitcom that doesn't actually warrant repeat viewings, but actually improves with them. There is SO much depth, so many in-jokes, sly background gags and recurring gags you have to have seen every episode at least four times before you've caught up with the writers, not to mention checking Wikipedia for stuff you may have missed. It's just THAT good.
Normally there's a sitcom where there are a few characters that get the laughs and the rest are padding/straight men, but with Arrested everyone is funny. From Gob's pathetic magic act and desperation to be accepted from his dad, to Michael Bluth, who's under-the-breath comments often make for the funniest lines in the show.
Everything about this Arrested Development just WORKS. The cutting satire aimed at the media (and the TV networks), the spot-on physical slapstick (David Cross's Tobias is a masterpiece of awkwardness, with some genuinely painful looking falls, slips and trips), the razor sharp script, the endlessly inventive, often surreal humour and of course the acting - every actor, from the main stars to the crop of guest stars - are both perfectly cast and acted.
Basically - it's a joy to watch.
It's so good in fact, that it got cancelled half way through its third season.
It's hard to fathom the rank, bewildering stupidity of not only the network for cancelling it (the ratings WERE poor) but the moronic audiences sitting at home that this fantastic show was obviously too CLEVER for. What? A comedy? With no canned laughter? No will-they-won't they relationships (that don't involve teenage cousins)? No overly obvious jokes? Something that you have to think about while you watch? Something you can't sit and text your friends while its on? Who wants to watch THAT?
And you know what Arrested Development got replaced by? Skating With Celebrities. God, I wish I was making that up. But no - the truth is always more depressing and devastating than fiction. And so a reality show with some dead-eyed, coke snorting z-list cretins is YOUR replacement for, and here's the truth, quite possibly the Best Sitcom - EVER.
But you know what? This review is a celebration, so let's not end on a low note. But, really, how DO you end on a high note when a show like this is canned and replaced by idiot-fodder?
Well, Thank God that an audience with intelligence, an attention span and a love for quality television embraced this show. Thank God that the DVDs sold well because Arrested Development: The Movie, with the original cast, writers and directors, is well into production. Happy endings are rare here in The Curmudgeon's reviews - but this could turn out to be an ecstatic one.
And that, good reader, is Part One in my list of the great and the good. But what could possibly be up next? Only one way to find out..
In a short-attention span, lowest common denominator world of mass consumption, it was only inevitable that the smartest comedy ever produced was simply too subtle and facetious for the dim-witted masses to appreciate. The lesser minded majority passed it off, and how ironic, as stupid juvenile comedy; when in fact, the jokes flew over their heads at the speed of light. If you missed out on your high-school graduation, there's always King of Queens or the WWF. Don't waste you beer-drinking unemployment on this. If you can read and write, this is the show you've been missing. For you, this is the lime and salt your beers have been missing. Smart people need to laugh too...
on April 22, 2011
If you are into low brow humor that only deals with fart jokes and sex, then this is probably not for you. Arrested Development is a clever, dark comedy which not that many people would get, but luckily, I do. Arrested Development tells the story of Michael Bluth who needs to keep his family together during tough times when his father goes to jail for a crime he says he didn't commit. Michael is the normal one in a family of odd-ball characters who consist of: his selfish alcoholic mother Lucille, his clueless and materialistic twin sister Lindsay, Lindsay's psychiatrist turned actor husband Tobias (the funniest character), his magician brother Gob, his mama's boy younger brother Buster and his son George Michael who loves his cousin Maeby. All 3 seasons are packed with their hilarious antics. Although, I wish the series finale had a better ending, it was a wonderful series. Take a look at the family who lost everything and the man who needed to keep them together.
Special Features includes your regular commentaries, bloopers, deleted scenes, ect.
Special guests throughout the season include: Amy Poeler, Ben Stiller, Charlize Theron, Carl Weathers, Martin Short, Judge Reinholds, Andy Richter, J.K. Simmons, James Lipton, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Liza Minnelli, Henry Winkler and Scott Biao