TV Review - Arrested Development (Final Season)

With the recent news that the TV series Arrested Development will be resurrected, I decided to post my review of the show's finale, which I wrote back in February 2006.

After only 3 years and 53 funny as Hell episodes, the FOX network in all its wrongness is discontinuing my favorite TV show, the critically acclaimed, six-time Emmy Award-winning comedy, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

Today, Friday, February 10 at 8PM, FOX will air the last four episodes of an all too short a season. Needless to say, I'm heartbroken. I'm sure after watching the last second I will shed at least one tear or two. How can they do this?

There have been a lot of TV shows that have been cancelled before their time, in spite of the fact that they have been amazing shows, or have had huge fan bases.

Over the years, we've seen great shows get dropped like bad habits that never really were bad habits but probably the best habits to have. The networks are of course businesses that are ratings driven and if a show isn't getting the ratings, then it gets the boot.

You'd think in that kind of democratic model it would weed out the bad shows and uphold the good ones, but no. Too often good shows get the worst ratings and bad shows get the best ratings. Meaning most people are willing to watch crap and ignore cuisine.

CBS did it to FRANK'S PLACE in the eighties. ABC did it to ONCE & AGAIN in the nineties. NBC did it to BOOMTOWN a few years ago and now FOX is doing it to ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. I hate it!!!

It's not fair. All of those shows were kick ass shows that did not deserve cancellation. And if they got low ratings, it only shows how most Americans don't know good TV is out there, which is a shame because this was a "comedic gem" as one newspaper writer put it.

Okay, if you're wondering what the heck ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT was all about. Here's the scenario. It's "the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together."

According to Squidoo, "It's a vague send-up of documentaries/reality-programming (think "This Is Spinal Tap" or "The Office," but without the talking heads), focusing on a wealthy family from Newport Beach whose patriarch, George Sr., is under investigation for Enron-type corporate crimes. Michael Bluth, the family's "good son," is charged with running what's left of the family business (a housing development/construction company), and his hilariously dysfunctional family. [Some have compared it to THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS.]

The jokes come fast and furious, with nary a line of dialogue or narration - or even facial expression - spared in service of a setup or punchline to a joke, reference ("callback") or visual gag. In fact, new viewers may find themselves overwhelmed by the constant barrage of jokes, particularly if, having watched more conventional comedies on network TV, they are unaccustomed to finding such a high level of quality and quantity of humor. Viewers who watch episodes multiple times stand a better chance of catching and appreciating a surprisingly large number of jokes that have been crammed into the background, or delivered in what are ostensibly "throwaway" lines.

In addition, the numerous references to events from previous episodes, spanning all three seasons, means that loyal viewers find the experience of watching the show most rewarding (though we're all thrown off by references that are only explained in future episodes - e.g., Buster's hand and Gob's roofies). The writers of the show also love making references to other television shows (most notably "Happy Days," but also "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Cops," and even Spanish soap operas).

Given how densely packed each episode is, it's not surprising that there is usually something for almost everybody - witty banter, slapstick comedy, even warm-and-fuzzy character interaction followed by hilarious parodies of same. The humor can get daring, broaching topics in politics, race and incest that don't normally show up on network sitcoms (there is also a high bleep-quotient, and a lot of double-entendres)."

There have been so many cameos from Lizza Minneli, to Julia Louis Dreyfuss, to Henry Winkler, Scott Baio and Charlize Theron. Tonight's episodes features appearances from William Hung and Judge Reinhold. The characters are always insane and at times completely irreverent. And, even more insane that Ron Howard narrates the whole thing. (It's his movie company that produces the show.) But the show was "never" not brilliant.

I'm immediately going out and buying the first two seasons on DVD. I hope some of you out there find some time to turn it on, take a few moments to laugh before switching over to the opening to the Winter Olympics. Some of you may get it, some probably won't. But, I'm telling you this was great comedy, great TV. Some may try to copy it. They'll fail. I hope the writers and producers go on to do more stuff, but there will never be another like it.

I will miss you ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. ---:(


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