Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Things What Are Great #11 - Arrested Development

In A Nutshell:- Much underrated and cruelly cancelled before it's time, this is quite simply one of the funniest sitcoms in recent years.

The Basics:- The Bluth family are successful and rich... until father George, founder of the Bluth Company, is arrested for fraud and embezzlement. His son Michael struggles to keep the company and family together. Why he bothers to do this when they seem hellbent on going down with the sinking ship, even he's not sure... It lasted for three years between 2003 and 2006 and was cruelly cut down in it's prime by a combination of network and viewer indifference - as can sometimes be the way with smart and funny comedy.

Why's It So Great Then?:- Three things which seem deceptively simple but are so often the hardest things to get right:- scripts, style and cast. The central cast of characters are all properly crafted comedy creations - the put-upon Michael, the nervous George-Micheal, the monstrous Lucille, the idiotic Gob (pronounced Joe-b), the repressed Tobias and all the rest of the family have their moments to shine. The series makes great use of "cutaway" humour (for want of of a better description) along the lines of shows such as Spaced and Scrubs and has a really distinctive, mock-documentary look to it, accompanied by Ron Howard's narration. The cast are all uniformly great and it's hard to single anyone out - I've always been a big fan of Jeffrey "Hey Now Hank Kingsley" Tambor but Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Jessica Walter, Portia de Rossi and particularly Will Arnett and David Cross are all great. It's also got a fine line in wordplay and pun-based humour - a favourite of mine being when Tobias claims to be the first combined analyst and therapist but he didn't do too well once the business cards were printed... Running gags are also a theme - the show really rewards prolonged and repeated viewing to catch all the jokes that are referred back to through out the series (a standout one being the entire family's inability to imitate a chicken - trust me, that'll make sense if you've seen it).

Surely Some Of It Must Be Rubbish:- Well, being English, the main disappointment is the extended section of the third season involving the pointless Charlize Theron (seriously, I don't get the appeal or popularity of her, she's like the acting equivalent of wallpaper) playing a supposedly English person with an absolutely atrocious accent. As does the guy playing her uncle. Awful. But I'm just nitpicking, really.

So We Should Seek Out This Thing Of Which You Speak?:- If you're in any way a fan of well-crafted sitcoms and cracking character-based humour then yes, this is one for you. And, fortunately, even though it did get cancelled, the staff knew the writing was on the wall and so mange to deliver a final episode that ties everything up with some nice little throwbacks to the first episode. So, yes, go, enjoy and feel free to get upset that it's all over too soon.


Lana said...

i'm jumping up and down clapping excitedly!! this was such a great show. i still laugh at least once a week at bob loblaw. (hahaha...)

That Baldy Fella said...

Definitely - that one made me properly laugh extremely loudly. Not to mention Bob Loblaw's Law Blog.

kapgaf said...

Have watched episodes one and two. I think imparb* going to like the other episodes.

*this evening's word verif

That Baldy Fella said...

I hope so. There's some good stuff coming up...