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Arrested Development - Season One (2003)

Comedy and Television movie directed by Anthony Russo, Greg Mottola, Jay Chandrasekhar, Joe Russo, and John Fortenberry

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  • Jan 19, 2005
  • by
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is one of the great shows on TV right now. It truly isn't like anything else you might see. It has a jumpy, spontaneous, handheld look like many dramas you see these days, but it is far from serious. This is a show that has characters that are very funny on their face, and when you dig deeper into their foibles, they become even funnier. The characters are then thrown into outlandish situations at an unbelievable rate. So much happens in one episode, it's almost dizzying.

This dizzying pace is kept understandable by the dry, impeccably timed narration of Ron Howard. Because he helped create the show, he has understood from day one the importance of this narration. To quickly fill in plot holes and most hilariously, to introduce things like flashbacks, flashforwards, archived photos, etc. etc. His tone NEVER attempts to be funny. He's not telling a joke, but he is certainly setting up one joke after another. Normally, narration is a painful, lazy device that grates. But this show handles it so deftly that it is integral to its success. If the show were to eliminate the narration, it would absolutely NOT be the same show.

And cudos to all the great cast members: Jason Bateman (in the performance of his career), playing straight-man Michael, is forced to run the company started by his father and run into the ground by his father in some Enron-like scandals. They are home developers, and one scandal involves building homes in Iraq for Saddam. All the other family members mostly want to mooch off the company and basically do everything they can to make Michael's life difficult. And they also have their own ridiculous dreams and aspirations. Michael has a twin sister who simply wants to be glamorous and lazy and shop all day...a dream held by her mother (Jessica Walters), except that the mother always snipes at her daughter about her weight...the daughter is played by the skeletally thin Portia delRossi. Portia is married to Tobias, a former psychiatrist trying to be an actor. Played by David Cross, he is my favorite character on the show. Deluded, possibly gay but denying it, and best of all...a truly horrific actor!!! Will Arnett plays older brother Gob (pronounced like Job, the biblical figure) a magician, with a huge chip on his shoulder. There's younger brother Buster, who can't get out from under his mother's domineering shadow, and is the biggest mass of neurosis you'll ever see. Michael's son, George Michael, is a likable but goofy teenager, embarrassingly attracted to his trouble-maker cousin Maebe.

Sounds confusing...and if you're new to the show, it probably all would be confusing for awhile. This is that rare sitcom that needs you to watch week after week. But thank God for the DVD release of the first season. You can catch up with all the shenanigans and then start watching season 2. Trust me, you'll laugh almost until it hurts with nearly every episode. You've never seen a sitcom like it, because there isn't one quite like it. The humor is bone, bone dry, with sprinklings of slapstick or the just plain absurd. Full of marvelous guest roles for the likes of Julia Louis Dreyfuss, an amazingly game and funny Liza Minelli and Henry Winkler. Even Blue Man Group (season 2, now that I think of it). What's great about season 1 is that all the performers seem to have instinctively grasped the right tone for the show right off the bat. With many great sitcoms, when you see their first few episodes, you see how they were still struggling to find their voice (MASH, SIMPSONS, SEINFELD). The AD folks were off and running from the first moment, again aided by Howard's narration. I highly, highly recommend it!!!

Word of warning for parents: The DVD set contains a longer version of the pilot episode. It's great fun to see that action-packed first show fleshed out...but apparently it must have been planned for HBO or something, because it has some pretty serious swearing in it. In later episodes, some tirades of swearing are bleeped out to absolutely hilarious effect. But keep your little ones away from the unexpurgated pilot.

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More Arrested Development - Season ... reviews
review by . October 03, 2006
posted in Pass The Remote!
I was introduced to ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT through a good friend. From watching the first episode I was hooked. Unfortunately, I was one of many people who didn't discover the show until after it had been canceled at Fox. The show is filmed in veritae style (like a documentary) and though much of the acting seems to be improved, it is not. The writing on the show is full of wit and humor and is funny on numerous different levels, not to mention that a small side joke might have significance a few …
About the reviewer
I've got my own site,, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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Winner of the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy its first year out,Arrested Developmentis the kind of sitcom that gives you hope for television. A mockumentary-style exploration of the beleaguered Bluth family, it's one of those idiosyncratic shows that doesn't rely on a laugh track or a studio audience; it's shot more like a TV drama, albeit with an omniscient narrator (executive producer Ron Howard) overseeing the proceedings. Holding the Bluths together just barely is son Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the only normal guy in a family that's chock full of nuts. Hardworking and sensible, Michael's certain he's going to be given control of his family's Enron-style corporation upon the retirement of his father (Jeffrey Tambor). The fact that he's passed over instead for his mother (Jessica Walter) is only a blip when compared to his father's immediate arrest for dubious accounting practices, and the resulting freeze on the family's previously limitless wealth.

Bereft of money, and even less family love, the Bluths have to band together in their moment of need--not easy when everyone's looking out for number 1. In addition to his scabrous parents, Michael has to contend with his lothario older brother (Will Arnett), his basically useless younger brother (Tony Hale), his greedy twin sister (Portia DeRossi), and her sexually ambiguous husband (David Cross). Michael's only comrade in sanity is his son George Michael (Michael Cera), but then again, the teenage boy harbors a secret ...

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Screen Writer: Abraham Higginbotham
DVD Release Date: October 19, 2004
Runtime: 491 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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