By: Mathan Erhardt
Well to quote the show itself; … And now the story of a wealthy family, who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together … it’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.
Arrested Development had one of the most celebrated debut seasons of any show on television, ever. It had a number of nominations, and an impressive number of wins. It’s a critics darling. Yet it’s in danger of being canceled.
The cast features an array of characters. George Bluth is the patriarch of the family and head of the conglomerate The Bluth Company. His lack of appreciation for Michael Bluth, his son, causes Michael to decide to leave the company. Michael wants to spend more time with his son George-Michael (Michael is a widower.)
When George’s unsavory (and illegal) business practices cause him to go to prison, Michael has to step up to support his floundering family. His mother Lucille is accustomed to a lifestyle she can no longer afford with her husband in prison. Michael’s brothers Gob and Buster are idiotic and inept, both respectively and collectively.
Their sister, Lindsay Bluth Funke, meanwhile also has to adjust to a lifestyle change, along with her husband Tobias Funke and their daughter Maeby.
Everything seems pretty normal, except when you delve deeper into the characters. George-Michael has a crush on his cousin Maeby. Gob is a struggling (and cheesy) magician. Buster is an uber Momma’s boy. Tobias is adrift in life and considering acting as a profession, and Lindsay is dissatisfied with marriage. Lucille is insane and George actually learns to enjoy prison.
This show embodies the spirit of both The Simpsons and Seinfeld. Stories connect and collide as they did on Seinfeld, yet the family remains the heart of the show just like The Simpsons.
Another aspect that makes the show shine is the use of celebrities. Ron Howard is the narrator. Henry Winkler plays the family lawyer. Martin Short and Malik Yoba have also played roles on the show, and Carl Weathers and Thomas Jane have appeared as themselves.
The writing for this show is hilarious. The show is all about miscommunication and misunderstanding. George-Michaels’ misreading Maeby as flirting with him. Tobias misunderstanding nearly everything told to him.
One of the most amazing aspects of the show is that it sometimes features A, B, C, and even D stories. And they all wrap up nicely at the end of the episode. Managing to cram four complete stories into 22 minutes is a feat.
Arrested Development also has some of the most imaginative characters around; A hairless business rival, a rich woman with constant vertigo, a bounty hunter/professional caterer. It’s joyous to see what kind of oddball characters are going to debut week after week. Another nice touch is the faux previews that close each episode. They make you clamor for episodes that will never air.
Jason Bateman gives Michael Bluth a palpable air of frustration with his family. He’s a bit jaded with their schemes, but he still gives the character love for his kin. Michael Cera plays George-Michael with a bit of neurotic compulsion. He’s anxious, paranoid and awkward, in other words the perfect adolescent.
As Gob, Will Arnett is a treat to watch. He’s obnoxious, crude and a terrible magician. He’s also a complete idiot. Frequent guest star Henry Winkler plays Barry Zuckerkorn like he’s channeling Phil Hartman’s Lionel Hutz. It’s always fun to see an aloof lawyer.
Why You Should Watch
Arrested Development is proof that sitcoms as a genre aren’t finished. It’s inventive and clever. But most of all it’s funny. If you enjoy The Simpsons or Seinfeld you should be watching this severely under watched piece of comedy genius.
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