Monday, May 29, 2006

DVD Review:
"Arrested Development" season one

I think that people who buy boxed sets of old TV shows are usually stoopid eediots. Especially when most if those shows are available nigh-constantly in syndication (I'm looking at you, "Will and Grace: Season Three" buyers). However, there sometimes comes a series that is felled by a network while still wet from birth and the only way to suck out its marrow is to go ahead a drop a few rolls of nickels at the local media store and buy the damn thing. This is one of those occasions.

"Arrested Development" is awesome, surely the most awesomely entertaining comedy to live on network TV in at least 20 years. Or should I say "was" -- those bolt-eating morons at Fox signed its death warrant last winter (while dreck like "Bones" and "House" continue to draw breath), and creator Mitchell Hurwitz jumped off any chance of bringing it to Showtime. I feel dumb for totally missing this when it was on, other than having watched the last four episodes in a block during its swan song. This series was so much smarter than anything else on TV -- it relied on the viewer to keep some continuity in mind from episode to episode, as well as managing parallel plots/themes. The writers created such lushly textured plots that crisscrossed with running gags and setpieces, the air flying thick with one-liners and well-executed punchlines.

I couldn't even begin to furnish an example, because it would murder the moment. Wait, scratch that -- I love the moment when brothers Michael and Gob (Jason Bateman and Will Arnett) are reconciling with a hug after a particular tricky plot. There is a moment of quiet, and Gob tells Michael that if he feels something poking from his pocket, it's a magician's dove he keeps in in there. Of course, a dove waddles into frame behind them that exact moment. The showrunners have patented a mix of slapstick, absurdism, and character comedy that works from the pilot episode onward.

The cast, with special regard to Bateman as a straight man for the ages, pulls off each joke as if they thought of it themselves -- as high a measure of praise as I can think of. I can't wait for seasons 2 and 3 to appear on top of my office's TV set.