head
head head head
Home Contact RSS Feed
News   •   Features   •   Reviews   •   Podcasts   •   Contests   •   Contact Us   •   About Us
Streaming Review: Arrested Development
cGt2099   |  

Streaming Review: Arrested Development

Arrested DevelopmentArrested Development
Netflix [Seasons 1-4]
DVD [Seasons 1-3]
Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
Executive Produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Mitchell Hurwitz, David Nevins
Starring Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Tony Hale, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, David Cross, Alia Shawkat, Henry Winkler, Scott Baio, Ron Howard
Fox [Seasons 1-3]
Netflix [Season 4]
Originally Broadcast: November 2, 2003

Some say it’s the most popular sitcom from the 2000s. Others deem it has a cult following. Either way, Arrested Development has become a phenomenon among its fans – a show that, while created by Mitchell Hurwitz, is driven mainly by Ron Howard. Taking the conception of filming a sitcom using the style of reality television, and littering the show with pop culture references (as well as its own memes that it develops over time), Arrested Development is an amusing viewing experience, though overrated.

The series takes on the concept of "riches to rags", of a wealthy family that fall on bad times when their father George Bluth (the CEO, played by Jeffrey Tambor) is arrested by the SEC. Taking a massive hit to the company, son Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) takes on the responsibility of bringing the business back to profitability while trying to keep his family together.

While this is the key component of the plotline of Arrested Development, and indeed it begins this way, the major overarching element of the stories is the characters and their interactions with each other. Michael’s son, George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera, in the role in which he cut his teeth) looks up to his father positively, though suffers from the torment of yearning after his cousin Maeby (Alia Shawkat).

Maeby’s parents, Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and her husband Tobias (David Cross) are dysfunctional. Michael’s and Lindsay’s brother Gob (Will Arnett) obsessively contends with his siblings while ruining everything with his obsession with magic tricks. Their youngest brother Buster (Tony Hale) is in a destructive relationship with mother Lucille (Jessica Walter), who egotistically refuses to relinquish control of her family and the business for the style of life she is accustomed to.

Streaming Review: Arrested Development

The inaugural season of Arrested Development, while strongly following the plotline and character interactions, is extremely mediocre. Though the filming techniques and uniqueness of the show’s presentation, the meme-ification of scenes from this first season have burnt out the effectiveness of its impact (Google the "I Don’t Know What I Expected" gif, you’ll see what I mean). The first half of the season goes slowly on, but it’s in episodes 8 and episode 9 where the show truly seems to kick off and slide into its own groove, with a great deal of laughs – only to follow with more mediocre installments to cap off the season.

Season 2, on the other hand, is where the series steps away from mediocrity. The script writing vastly improves, with a lot of clever foreshadowing to future elements (some of which don’t even come to pass until Season 3) and connections made across all of the episodes with continual in-jokes and self-styled memes that enhance the culture of the series. Ron Howard’s narration takes on more levity in Season Two, and more major connections are made to his Happy Days heritage, along with the continuing lawyer role played by Henry Winkler.

Season 3 wraps up the entirety of the main story arcs and character relations, and continues the in-joke show memes with much more solidarity and flippancy. By this stage of the game, the show is in full swing, with the mediocrity left far behind. Like Chachi replacing Fonzi, Scott Baio takes over Winkler’s lawyer role, and Justine Bateman’s appearance in Season Three is brilliant, and hysterically shattering. The concluding finale is wonderfully wrapped, making the third season the best of all three. While Arrested Development begins poorly, in my mind, the show develops and gets better as it goes.

It is with the resurrection of the series on Netflix with Season 4 that things go awry. While it isn’t the overrated mediocrity of the early shows, it certainly isn’t comparable of its pinnacle with Season 3. Taking a massive gamble, the creative team takes on a completely different format this season – rather than following Michael as the primary protagonist, each major character gets their own episode. It is a bit off-putting, but judging by how things have progressed it looks like they’re opening up a lot of avenues for new seasons; so I am suspecting that this will follow on in the current format. Despite this, many fans of the original series will be highly disappointed with the format change, as well as a poor focus on Bateman’s main character as well. And, it’s definitely not as eccentric as the previous seasons.

Arrested Development

The filming approach to Arrested Development is a winner in my mind. It does away with the tacky in-studio live audience thing, and instead zones in on using reality television filming techniques, placing the viewer among the family. The ongoing narrative from Ron Howard is superb, and he actually takes on bigger on-screen roles in Seasons 3 and 4. The inclusion of faux news footage, videos, snapshots, and other collage transition techniques make for interesting scenes, and the use of fake "next time on Arrested Development" trailers with scenes that never happen in later episodes is brilliant fun.

That being said, there’s a snide element to the show to some degree. Focusing on a family that is wealthy, selfish, at the height of the economic downturn across the world seems somewhat out-of-place for me. While the vast majority of the American viewing public are struggling through tough times, we get to laugh at the "clowns of the 1%" portrayed on Arrested Development – a show wherein the perpetrators of financial crimes get away with it for the most part; while everyone in reality suffers from the poor decision making and greedy criminal behavior of their real-life counterparts. In some ways, it is a little insulting.

Additionally, the family is made up of individuals that are very unlikeable characters (at least the core members of the Bluth family). Even the stoic and positive Michael suffers from falls in which he follows his selfish desires from time to time as well. There are very little moral aspects to the family. George Michael is mostly ignored (not always), despite being a clumsy, nerdy and likeable kid. Maeby is always ignored, ironically becoming the most resourceful of the family. And Tobias, the odd one with problems, a desire to follow an acting dream, and denying his own sexuality, is the jester that is often despised by the family.

But this is precisely the point of the show, in fact, it’s in the title: Arrested Development doesn’t refer to the arrest of George and the stalling of house development. No, instead it is the character development that is arrested, and deliberately so. Don’t get me wrong – the show is enjoyable and funny. David Cross is a riot at Tobias, fully embracing the comedic element of the character, crafting some of the most iconic and memorable scenes and lines ("I just blue myself") throughout the entire series. Jason Bateman is a treat to watch in all of the seasons, and I’m thankful this talented man has made an incredibly comeback over the last decade. Michael Cera is notable also, and it’s fascinating seeing his blossoming as an actor during the series.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development avoids symbolism and subtext, and moderately creates its own riffs on current events (from the time of the filming) and pop culture, and eventually creating its own in-show joke memes that repeat throughout the series (many of them pop up in the new season too). This is significant, because there are many elements of episodes (sometimes sharp-witted snapshot scenes) that precede and foreshadow these ongoing memes which creates the most important winning aspect of the series: its rewatchability.

There are so many of these elements littered throughout the show that it’s impossible to catch them all on your first viewing. Subsequent viewings reveal many of these aspects, but also reveal a very forward thinking and clever writing staff and creative team. This alone makes Arrested Development worth the look.

However, the show is not all it is made out to be. It comes with its faults, and I found the series to be incredibly overrated, despite its popularity. If you’ve not seen the show before, do not expect brilliance, but you can expect to be entertained. And while established fans may find themselves disappointed with the format change in Season 4, newcomers to the show will find Arrested Development to be an enjoyable laugh to check out. Add it to your queue, and consider checking it out sometime.

Overall Rating: 3½ out of 5

Videos

  • smeddy

    Wow. I couldn’t disagree more. Season 1 mediocre? Season 3 the best? Having said that, if you have only watched the show through once, watch it again – it gets hysterically funnier second time round, and it’s that which has led to it’s acclaimed reputation.

  • MadMike R5D4

    Arrested Development overrated and mediocre? With that ignorant and uninformed comment; you sir, fail the Internet for all time.

  • Robert

    Note to the author: Take your hand (left or right, presonal preferance is fine) and place over your own face. Leave it there. Arrested Development seems a little beyond you. If you think season 3 was the best over season 1 or 2 maybe you should go back to watching reruns of Friends. You know, something with a recorded laugh track to let you know when you should laugh.

Previous Article
Next Article
«
»
Around the Web
Geeks of Doom on Instagram Follow Geeks of Doom on Tumblr
Geeks of Doom on YouTube Geeks of Doom on Pinterest
Geeks of Doom Email Digest Geeks of Doom RSS Feed
Google
Amazon.com
Check out all of our current contests listings
Check out all of our current contests listings
space
space
The Drill Down Podcast TARDISblend Podcast Skull-Face Island Movie Podcast
BlendoveR
Get Geeks of Doom Gear on CafePress
BlendoveR   ·   Cinema Blend   ·   Collider   ·   Film School Rejects   ·   First Showing   ·   io9   ·   Latino Review   ·   Screen Rant   ·   Slashfilm   ·   The Mary Sue
2520 Clothing Company
Animated  ·  Apps  ·  Art  ·  Best-Sellers  ·  Bits of Doom  ·  Blog  ·  Blu-ray  ·  Book of Geek  ·  Books  ·  Cartoons  ·  Celebrity  ·  Charity  ·  Collectibles  ·  Comics  ·  Computers  ·  Contests  ·  Conventions  ·  Deals  ·  DIY  ·  Documentary  ·  Doom Deliveries  ·  DVDs  ·  Electronics  ·  Environment  ·  Fanatic  ·  Features  ·  Gadgets  ·  Games  ·  Gear  ·  Geek Finds  ·  Geek Girls  ·  Gift Guide  ·  Holidays  ·  Humor  ·  Interviews  ·  Movies  ·  Music  ·  News  ·  News Bytes  ·  Obit  ·  Photos  ·  Podcasts  ·  Politics  ·  Poll  ·  Press Releases  ·  Recaps  ·  Reviews  ·  Rumors  ·  Science  ·  Software  ·  Sports  ·  Technology  ·  Television  ·  Theater  ·  Theme Parks  ·  Trailers  ·  Travel  ·  Video Games  ·  Videos  ·  Web Games  ·  Week of Geek  ·  Zombie Round-Up
space
January 2014  ·   December 2013  ·   November 2013  ·   October 2013  ·   September 2013  ·   August 2013  ·   July 2013  ·   June 2013  ·   May 2013  ·   April 2013  ·   March 2013  ·   February 2013  ·   January 2013  ·   December 2012  ·   November 2012  ·   October 2012  ·   September 2012  ·   August 2012  ·   July 2012  ·   June 2012  ·   May 2012  ·   April 2012  ·   March 2012  ·   February 2012  ·   January 2012  ·   December 2011  ·   November 2011  ·   October 2011  ·   September 2011  ·   August 2011  ·   July 2011  ·   June 2011  ·   May 2011  ·   April 2011  ·   March 2011  ·   February 2011  ·   January 2011  ·   December 2010  ·   November 2010  ·   Octber 2010  ·   September 2010  ·   August 2010  ·   July 2010  ·   June 2010  ·   May 2010  ·   April 2010  ·   March 2010  ·   February 2010  ·   January 2010  ·   December 2009  ·   November 2009  ·   Octber 2009  ·   September 2009  ·   August 2009  ·   July 2009  ·   June 2009  ·   May 2009  ·   April 2009  ·   March 2009  ·   February 2009  ·   January 2009  ·   December 2008  ·   November 2008  ·   Octber 2008  ·   September 2008  ·   August 2008  ·   July 2008  ·   June 2008  ·   May 2008  ·   April 2008  ·   March 2008  ·   February 2008  ·   January 2008  ·   December 2007  ·   November 2007  ·   Octber 2007  ·   September 2007  ·   August 2007  ·   July 2007  ·   June 2007  ·   May 2007  ·   April 2007  ·   March 2007  ·   February 2007  ·   January 2007  ·   December 2006  ·   November 2006  ·   Octber 2006  ·   September 2006  ·   August 2006  ·   July 2006  ·   June 2006  ·   May 2006  ·   April 2006  ·   March 2006
space
Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under
a Creative Commons License.
space
Geeks of Doom is proudly powered by WordPress.

Students of the Unusual™ comic cover used with permission of 3BoysProductions
The Mercuri Bros.™ comic cover used with permission of Prodigal Son Press

Geeks of Doom is designed and maintained by our geeky webmaster
All original content copyright ©2005-2014 Geeks of Doom
All external content copyright of its respective owner, except where noted

Privacy Policy | Contact
space
space