Monday, April 18, 2005

Watch Arrested Development sometime in the future. Possibly.

I realize that many of you are tired of hearing this, Arrested Development is the best show you (probably) didn't watch this season. The show ended its season prematurely (Fox cut the initial order of 22 episodes to 18) and what a season it was, even if shrunk by 4 episodes. Really. It's a damn shame the viewership is so low that it has been in danger of cancellation/non-renewal pretty much from the get go. But such is the life of a sitcom that does not rely on laugh tracks, easy gay jokes (they go for the reacharounds instead) and fat-guy-with-pretty-wife dynamics (the Bluth family patriarch Michael is not fat and his wife is dead).

But what's more amazing than the show's smart, irrelevant humor is the writing team's ability to use their redheaded stepchild status at Fox as a fountain of jokes. Examples.
  1. A recent episode had the Bluth Company, which builds model homes, face a crisis as its order was cut short, from 22 to 18 lots. The family panics but the company survives by moving down one floor of the building it occupies, or dropping a stor(e)y, if you will.

  2. The show routinely mocks Fox Broadcasting, and cheekily made its Burger King sponsorship part of the episode.

  3. A recurring storyline has Michael's teenage son, George Michael harboring a crush on his cousin Maebe. Last night's episode references a French film about two cousins in love that George Michael watched with Maebe. The film production company Maebe works for (long story) releases an American remake, but points out that the cousins in question are not biologically related to avoid controversy. Towards the end of the episode, after George Michael unwittingly saves Maebe's job, the two make out. The narrator points out that the two may not be biologically related (another long story).

At this point, I'm guessing that much of the above doesn't sound that funny. And therein lies the show's weakness - it's so dense with sight gags and recurring jokes, it's incredibly hard for a virgin viewer to jump in midseason. Think watching either of the Matrix sequels without having any idea what the Matrix is; they were brutal enough even if you had seen the first one.

But that shouldn't scare you away from watching the show in the future (if it does come on). Since the Season 3 will hit no sooner than November, if at all, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the past 2 seasons. If you have a Netflix account, do yaself a favor and put AD's first season DVD on your queue. If you don't, hop on down to your local video store and demand it. You won't regret it. If you do, I don't know, we'll go down to the Banana Stand and I'll buy you a frozen banana. And Season 2 will come out sometime before the fall, so you'll be up to speed if/when Season 3 rolls around.

And if it doesn't, at least you will have watched the funniest, smartest television program this side of The Office (the BBC original, obvs). Trust me on this.

If you had time to read this post, you probably have time to also read this piece in maisonneuve about how Arrested thrived because it's always on the verge on the cancellation. It's a good mag, you should check it out.

<< Home