"ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: SEASON THREE"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (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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It was a dark day in television history earlier this year when “Arrested Development” was canceled. I hate to sound like I’m following the crowd, but I have to admit that this show was one of the smartest, funniest, wittiest and clever shows on television.
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Although it wasn’t a highly rated show, it won plenty of awards. Sadly, if it had been on HBO, it might have lived a lot longer. (And I don’t see why HBO didn’t pick it up. After all, they’re itching for another hit like “Sex in the City.”)
However, I give the cast and crew credit that they didn’t take things lying down. About half-way through the season, it becomes clear that the writers knew their days were numbered. Instead of crying in their cereal, they struck back with the best weapon a TV show has – humor. There’s an entire episode devoted to begging the audience and the network to save the show. It includes jokes about jumping to pay cable stations and starting letter-writing campaigns.
Sadly, none of this works, and we now have to say good-bye to the dysfunctional Bluths.
Season three opens with Uncle Oscar in jail in place of George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambour), who has taken a job in the Blue Man Group in Vegas. Michael (Justin Bateman) is still trying to hold this family together while battle his father’s embezzlement and treason charges. Michael’s son George-Michael (Michael Cera) is still infatuated with his cousin Maeby (Alia Shawkat), and his mother (Jessica Walter) is still a lush.
One of the early problems the show had was that it struggled between making the characters grow and making them funny. In several early first-season episodes, the despicable Bluths had their tender moments when we thought they learned something at the end. However, the next episode, they returned as shallow as ever.
By the third season, the writers had abandoned all hope for making the characters likeable in the traditional way. Rather, they made them likable in the way the characters of “Married, with Children” and “Seinfeld” were likeable. They were awful people, and let’s admit that it’s fun to watch bad things happen to awful people.
One of the best-cast shows ever, each character seems to get their own spotlight. It’s hard to pick out a favorite, but I lean toward Michael Bluth’s brothers – the ne’er do well would-be magician Gob (Will Arnett), the mamma’s boy Baby Buster (Tony Hale) and the sexually confused-yet-curious wannabe actor brother-in-law Tobias (David Cross).
Season three saw some excellent guest star spots, including Scott Baio as smarmy lawyer Bob Loblaw (who, of course, writes a Bob Loblaw law blog – say that fast three times!), Dave Thomas as the creepy British spy Mr. F, Charlize Theron as Michael’s retarded yet beautiful girlfriend and Justine Bateman as his possible missing sister who’s also a prostitute he accidentally hires as a consultant for the company.
Expect more crazy situation, more hilarious jokes, more extreme storylines and more bizarre comedy in this show’s swan song. It’s sad to see it go, but it was fun while it lasted.
The 2-disc DVD includes all 13 episodes, several of which have commentaries by the show’s cast and crew. There is a bevy of deleted scenes and a blooper reel. To wrap things up, there’s a retrospective of the show filmed on the final day of shooting. It’s a little overly sentimental, but still fun to watch, having fallen in love with these miserable characters over the years.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.78:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Spanish and French language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.