"Arrested Development: Season One"
by Kevin Carr
Click here to listen to Kevin's "Arrested Development" audio review, as heard on Clear Channel radio!
Click here to listen to a review of "Arrested Development" by Kevin's 3-year-old son, Liam!
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Jason Bateman as MICHAEL BLUTH
Jeffrey Tambour as GEORGE BLUTH, SR.
Portia de Rossi as LINDSEY BLUTH FUNKE
Will Arnett as GOB BLUTH
Tony Hale as BUSTER BLUTH
David Cross as TOBIAS FUNKE
Created by: Mitchell Hurwitz
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“Arrested Development” is a new style of sit com that, as star Jason Bateman says, is “The Royal Tennenbaums shot like COPS.” The show spoofs the dregs of television that we know as reality TV. Instead of just using the overly done documentary style because it’s cheaper or easier, it actually makes sense.
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With the ridiculous success of shows like “The Anna Nicole Show,” “The Osbournes” and “Newlyweds,” the stage is set for “Arrested Development.” It works much better than “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and smartly parodies standard and reality television of today.
The story is about a family that had it all, then loses it over night. Jeffrey Tambour plays George Bluth, the patriarch of a shockingly self-centered family. The only person in the clan worth the time of day is Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), who really believes in family. Unfortunately, he’s walked upon by everyone from his vain mother to his selfishly selfless twin sister.
When George is arrested for everything from securities fraud to high treason, Michael has to take over the family business. He has to try to get everything running straight, while his family starts to devour themselves when the band accounts are frozen.
The three DVDs in this set have numerous deleted scenes from the different episodes, as well as a handful of episodes with audio commentary. There are also a selection of original music from David Schwartz.
Like many DVDs of television series, there’s a couple neat behind-the-scenes featurettes about “Arrested Development.” However, there is something brilliant within these behind-the-scenes sections. Where most behind-the-scenes documentaries spend too much time either being a marketing video or just giving themselves kudos for no apparent reason, these featurettes have a lot of meat.
In the “Breaking Ground: Behind the Scenes of Arrested Development” featurette, the interviews show that this is one of the most self-aware show on television. The folks behind the show understand this is not a widely mass-market show, but it does have a solid niche audience. Oh, and those Emmys don’t hurt, either.
But if you’re skeptical on whether to try out the show, watch this documentary first. It explains exactly what works for the show.
First, it’s the brilliant cast. It isn’t populated with anyone who is used to being the main focus of a show. In fact, most of the recognizable names involved are second or third stringers. They’re used to work with a team, so they don’t become too self-important. You have Jeffrey Tambour, who spend many years being the wacky guest star as early as “Three’s Company.” Then you have the straight man Jason Bateman, who grew up as the second fiddle to Ricky Schroeder on “Silver Spoons.” The other genius actor is David Cross, who gets to play the pretentious actor wannabe, which he constantly rails on in his stand up.
In fact, one of the highlights of the show is David Cross having a chance to work opposite James Lipton as the pretentious prison warden. After Cross tore Lipton apart, both in his HBO series “Mr. Show with Bob and David” as well as his stand-up routine where he calls Lipton every name in the book, I thought I’d never see them together. The fact that they worked together on the scene shows that neither takes himself too seriously and can laugh for the greater comedic good.
At times, unfortunately, the handheld documentary style gets to be too much. This happens mid-season when the camera operators were trying too hard to go for the herky-jerky camera movement. The only other real problem is whether the show can sustain itself under its yoke of dysfunction. Like “Seinfeld,” what makes the characters lovable is their absolute lack of redeeming qualities. However, several episodes end with a glimmer of hope that things might get better. But then again, we know we can’t let the characters grow too much, or it would lose its charm...