Arrested Development DVD a must-have

By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Arrested Development" is hands-down the best show you can watch that isn't a talk show, reality show or Food Network special. Actually, it is the best show on TV. Period.

The delicious Jason Bateman plays Michael Bluth, the middle son in a Royal Tenenbaums-esque wealthy family of spoiled children and corrupt parents. In the pilot episode, Michael's father George Sr. (Jeffery Tambor) is arrested and his assets are frozen. Michael must help the family heal and learn to live within their means - a task which is much more difficult than anyone could anticipate.

Michael's family consists of his older brother GOB (Will Arnett), an untalented magician and part-time womanizer, his twin sister Lindsay (Portia De Rossi), a lazy mother and fashionable socialite, and his younger brother Buster (Tony Hale), who has never moved out of their mother's home and control. He also cares for his son George Michael (Michael Cera) - a joke that never gets old - Lindsay's daughter Maeby (Alia Shawkat) and husband Tobias (David Cross), a doctor turned failing actor. His mother Lucille (Jessica Walter) adds a wicked and hypercritical wit with her constant condemnation of the actions of her children.

In this truly gifted group of character actors, who manage to be consistently funny with perfect comedic timing, there isn't a bad apple, which makes every episode sing. The writers and directors of "Arrested Development" have found a way to maintain the attention span of the reality TV generation through using only hand-held cameras and quick-witted dialogue, interspersed with flashback shots and narration by the show's executive producer Ron Howard.

And that's not the only thing that makes "Arrested Development" an innovative show. There's no laugh track used, save a couple experiments by the high class executives at Fox, which means you can get caught laughing too hard. The jokes are never in your face, and often rely on the viewer having watched previous episodes (Tobias wearing cutoff jean shorts). That they don't cater to Joe Six-Pack makes it difficult to pick up huge ratings. Another aspect of the show is the lack of a moral at the end of the episode. Like "Seinfeld," the show makes fun of traditional morals in sitcoms ("The lesson is to not teach lessons.").

The newly released three-disc DVD box set of the first season is great for both fans of the show and people who have not yet discovered its greatness. There is a wide selection of special features including the extended pilot, select episode commentary, a couple of featurettes and deleted/extended scenes. Plus, it has all 22 episodes from the first season.

"Arrested Development" won five Emmys this year, one of which was Best Comedy. And since it's really the only sitcom worth watching right now, it's about time people started supporting it. What would you rather watch, "Joey"? C'mon.

"Arrested Development" can be rented at Blockbuster and Casa Video, or bought where DVDs are sold. The second season just started with a bang and it shows on Fox Sunday nights at 7:30. Watch it.