Sunday, March 2, 2008

Arrested Development

I start most mornings by treadmilling for half an hour. I've got a portable DVD player with a 10-inch screen mounted on my treadmill's control panel, and I watch sitcoms to pass the time.

And I've just recently finished watching the third and final season of Arrested Development, a wonderful series about a rich family that loses everything because of shady business dealings on the part of the patriarch (the fabulous Jeffrey Tambor). The series stars Jason Bateman as Tambor's son, trying to keep the dysfunctional family together. Jessica Walter is perfect as the scheming mother; Michael Cera -- who lives not far from me, actually -- is incredibly natural in his performance as Bateman's son; the stunningly beautiful Portia di Rossi is excellent as Bateman's shallow sister.

In fact, the whole cast is fabulous, and the dialog is absolutely first-rate. Arrested Development is one of the new breed of sitcoms without a laugh track; it trusts the audience to know what's funny, and I frequently found myself in hysterics over the three seasons.

The narrator is Ron Howard (yes, from Happy Days) and his delivery is perfect. And his old Happy Days buddy Henry Winkler frequently guest stars as the family's lawyer, Barry Zuckercorn -- showing just how wonderfully talented Winkler is. Other guest stars: Charlize Theron, Dave Thomas, Justine Bateman, Scott Baio, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Liza Minnelli, Jeff Garlin, Amy Poehler, Ed Begley Jr., Carl Weathers, and James Lipton (from Inside the Actor's Studio, as a prison warden).

The show is surreal in a lot of ways (one of the family's few remaing vehicles is a stair car, of the kind used to disembark from airplanes), and it's full of meta humor (jokes that acknowledge slyly that this is a TV show).

How good is this show? Well, after I finished the third and final season of Arrested Development, I started in on season six of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the brilliant Larry David sitcom ... and Curb seems lame in comparison.

Check it out. The DVDs are quite cheap most of the time ( has all three seasons in a combined set for $45 right now).

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At March 02, 2008 11:37 AM , Blogger zafri said...

If you haven't already seen the tragically cancelled "Firefly" I recommend you check it out when you have time. I'll try out arrested development, it's just unfortunate that the versions of the dvds are so much more expensive.

At March 02, 2008 1:09 PM , Blogger Ed said...

Amen, to that. It is definitely is one of the smartest and funniest shows ever made. Holds up to repeated viewings also.

At March 03, 2008 2:22 PM , Blogger Josh said...

"Holds up to repeated viewings also."

It gets better with repeated viewings! You go back and discover there are jokes woven into episodes that don't become apparent until half a season or more later. Hands down, the best comedy of the 21st century to date.

At March 03, 2008 9:04 PM , Blogger Jacob said...

I just finished watching season 3 Arrested Development a few days ago– it's really wonderful.

zafri– Good call on Firefly, it's a great show that everyone should see. One bit of advice, don't buy from It's really overpriced– it's cheaper to buy from amazon dot com (also, re Arrested Development I wanted to use the "dot com" line).

At March 11, 2008 10:30 PM , Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

big Curb fan here.


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