Arrested Development: Season 1
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In this critically acclaimed hit sitcom, you'll meet the suddenly penniless, and equally clueless, Bluth family. Accustomed to their wildly affluent lifestyle, they can't seem to grasp the fact that now the head of the family (Jeffrey Tambor) is in the slammer for shifty accounting practices -- and he's loving every minute of it. Even worse, since the family assets have been frozen, they may actually have to go out and get jobs! The only one who understands the seriousness of their predicament is Michael (Jason Bateman), who realizes it's up to him to guide his eccentric family into this new chapter of their lives: Chapter 11.
Winner of the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy its first year out, Arrested Development is the kind of sitcom that gives you hope for television. A mockumentary-style exploration of the beleaguered Bluth family, it's one of those idiosyncratic shows that doesn't rely on a laugh track or a studio audience; it's shot more like a TV drama, albeit with an omniscient narrator (executive producer Ron Howard) overseeing the proceedings. Holding the Bluths together just barely is son Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the only normal guy in a family that's chock full of nuts. Hardworking and sensible, Michael's certain he's going to be given control of his family's Enron-style corporation upon the retirement of his father (Jeffrey Tambor). The fact that he's passed over instead for his mother (Jessica Walter) is only a blip when compared to his father's immediate arrest for dubious accounting practices, and the resulting freeze on the family's previously limitless wealth.
Bereft of money, and even less family love, the Bluths have to band together in their moment of need--not easy when everyone's looking out for number 1. In addition to his scabrous parents, Michael has to contend with his lothario older brother (Will Arnett), his basically useless younger brother (Tony Hale), his greedy twin sister (Portia DeRossi), and her sexually ambiguous husband (David Cross). Michael's only comrade in sanity is his son George Michael (Michael Cera), but then again, the teenage boy harbors a secret crush on his cousin (Alia Shawkat). A peerless ensemble led by the brilliant Bateman (who ever knew he could be this good?), all the actors are pitch-perfect in their roles, delivering the dryly funny, sometimes absurdist dialogue with the speed and flair of classic farce. The unusual tone of Arrested Development takes a bit of getting used to--it's far different from anything you'll see on TV, even HBO--but once you buy in to the Bluths' innumerable dysfunctions, you'll be laughing your head off for hours.--Mark Englehart
- 22 season 1 episodes, plus the never-aired extended pilot
- "Breaking Ground: Behind the Scenes of Arrested Development" featurette
- Ron Howard's inside look at Arrested Development
- Deleted/extended scenes
- The Museum of Television & Radio cast panel discussion
- Original songs by David Schwarz
- "Arrested Development: The Making of a Future Classic" TV Land featurette
- "TV Land Awards: The Future Classic Award" featurette
- Promo spot
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Ok, so maybe they did a bit better with this show than some of their other decisions. Like Firefly. Bet they would like that decision back, but anyways…. At least they gave this show 3 seasons!
This show really does hit on all levels. It’s hilarious and heartwarming. It’s laugh out loud funny. It was top notch all the way. So why did it fail?
Arrested Development ran into the same problem the excellent show Community has, people don’t like clever comedy it seems. They want dumb comedy that requires no amount of brain power to process. You don't have to be a genius to enjoy this show. But you do have to step above the normal comedic drivel that is everywhere these days. This show is worth checking out.
So many classic scenes this season. The burning of the banana stand. Gob’s dead bird. George’s love affair with an ice cream sandwich.
Am I overhyping this? Not a bit. So many years after the fact and this is still one of the best comedies that has ever been on television. Don’t believe me? Buy it and try it. You won’t be disappointed.
Everyone knows, of course, that the essential ingredients for successful TV sitcoms are in the writing, the cast, and the timing of the show's release. Arrested Development no doubt met both the former criteria; the writing is so clever, so offbeat, and so layered with wonderfully bizarre motifs (chicken dance, Tobias' ambiguous sexuality, George Michael and Maeby's on-again-off-again flirtation) that it begs repeated viewings. And the cast is absolutely stellar. Each individual performer is spectacular, but it's the way they riff off of one another that truly creates the show's magic. The only problem with the show, I suppose, was in its timing. It was cancelled after only three seasons, which signifies that its handlers didn't know how to market it, or perhaps that most viewers are not interested in TV that requires steadfast attention.
So we are left with 50 or so episodes that are, more or less, representing some of the funniest and best TV moments in the last twenty or thirty years.
All three seasons STRONGLY recommended!
Told in a mock documentary style, Arrested Development is the chronicle of one of the more dysfunctional families on TV. Season One begins with patriarch George Bluth under arrest for a series of crimes related to his home construction business. While he languishes in prison, it falls on his son Michael to hold things together, an effort that keeps being undermined by his family: his older brother Gob (pronounced Job with a long o), a not-very-gifted magician; his twin sister Lindsey who adopts various causes when she's not out clothes-shopping; his mother Lucille who has virtually no maternal instinct; his younger brother Buster, a man-child with a strange mother-fixation; his brother-in-law Tobias (Lindsey's husband), an ex-doctor turned wannabe actor, and his niece Maeby, a schemer who relishes her own parents' neglect. Only Michael and his son George-Michael are relatively normal, but even they have their quirks, particularly George Michael's crush on his cousin Maeby.
Adding to all the fun is Ron Howard's brilliant narration; sometimes even he gets emotionally involved, such as when one character insults another by calling him Opie. And there are all some great guest stars, including Henry Winkler as the Bluths' inept attorney; Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a prosecutor who may or may not be blind; Heather Graham as George Michael's ethics teacher who he (and every other male student) has a crush on; and Liza Minelli as Lucille 2, Lucille's rival and Buster's bizarre love interest.
There are 22 episodes in this set, and all are brilliantly funny: if I've omitted much in the way of plot description, it's mainly because the episodes have to experienced, not merely described, to be fully enjoyed. Beyond the episodes, we get a few extras, including the original, uncut pilot episode, a handful of episode commentaries, some behind-the-scenes looks and some deleted scenes. In its time, it was unappreciated by most people and treated rather shabbily by Fox (who tossed it everywhere in the schedule), but now on DVD, you have the opportunity to see TV comedy at its best.