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The W - Random - Arrested Development hard sell
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JustinShapiro
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Since: 12.12.01
From: Pittsburgh, PA

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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.76
Anyong

SF Chronicle
Tim Goodman

If the television gods have anything to do with it, "Arrested Development" will be the new "Seinfeld."

Now, that's not a title to blithely toss around. But rarely has there been a comedy so fully developed, so presently overlooked, as to be exactly the kind of gem where, in two years and a billion magazine covers and countless paeans to its inherent brilliance, we'll all look back in amazement at the series' first tragically ignored season and think, wow, how did we miss that?

Although there are differences -- "Seinfeld" had a few sputtering starts before catching fire and becoming the best and funniest American sitcom of the modern era (modern being when formula was scorned and irony became king) -- the similarity is that if Fox exercises patience, people will come around to "Arrested Development" as they did "Seinfeld."

And, in turn, "Arrested Development" will deliver the genius.

There are four episodes of "Arrested Development" left, starting at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. From there, it's likely the fate of the series -- which has received off-the-charts critical acclaim but relatively meager Nielsen numbers -- won't be decided until May, when the networks announce their fall schedules to advertisers and the media at the "upfronts" in New York.

At this moment in time, like "Seinfeld" before it, "Arrested Development" is an underappreciated slice of comedic perfection, its writing so good as to be staggering and the acting both subtle and wildly physical, a meshing of words and deeds we haven't seen since, well, since "Seinfeld."

"Arrested Development" is far and away the best sitcom on broadcast television and arguably in a bar-brawl with HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as the best comedy on all of television. So why is no one watching -- no one being relative to the American masses and those with Nielsen boxes?

Who knows -- this isn't a thesis paper or an attempt to find the source of the Nile. But nobody much watched "Seinfeld" in the early days, either, but they were eventually led there somehow, some way. Fox just needs to show the patience necessary to wait for the world to catch up. The last network to show any real patience with a sitcom was CBS -- and that sitcom was "Everybody Loves Raymond," which worked out just fine in that it helped revitalize a moribund network.

A cynic might ask why Fox should hope and pray people find this show if, in relative terms, they haven't after 18 episodes. Wasn't a 22-episode, full- season order faith enough? Well, it was faith, but not enough. That may only come with 22 more episodes and, here's the painful part, maybe more after that. But unlike other really great sitcoms that never went anywhere -- many of them birthed, then killed, by Fox -- "Arrested Development" is not just a sitcom with potential, not just 22 roughly funny minutes that deserve a break.

On the contrary, it came into the world, into Fox's Sunday fall lineup, fully formed, as clearly smart and stunningly well crafted as any sitcom ever has. Shot in faux documentary style and narrated by Ron Howard, the show's executive producer, it focuses on the Bluth family -- one of the most inherently dysfunctional clans ever -- and its fall from grace and fortune due to, among many things, embezzlement and stupidity.

At the core of the series is the one "sane" son, Michael, played by Jason Bateman in a career-defining role that is not just Emmy-worthy, but ought to be Emmy-winning. Where it looked, in the pilot episode, as if he were going to abandon his family of lazy losers, he has instead stuck around -- living with them in one of the model homes on an unfinished Bluth development tract - - to save them. This, naturally, takes some doing.

His father, George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor of "Larry Sanders" fame, which makes him a central participant in two of the best comedies of the last 25 years), is in prison for his misdeeds, regretting that he never used the office shredder. Michael's mother, Lucille, is a dour, sharp-tongued, manipulative monster prone to spending freely the money the family doesn't have. It's a performance by Jessica Walter that is so hysterically superior to any other on a sitcom that she shouldn't just win an Emmy, she should win it going away.

(That's two Emmys, if you're counting.)

Michael's efforts at propping up the sagging Bluth fortunes are hindered by the fact he is trying to do right by his 13-year-old son, George Michael (Michael Cera), while it might just be easier to cheat and manipulate and get ahead by any means necessary -- like everybody else in the world. Bateman serves as the straight man to a gallery of buffoons, including older brother George Oscar Bluth II (Will Arnett), a loser magician who prefers to be called "an illusionist" and goes by the name GOB; sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), a self-centered spend-a-holic who married the sexually ambiguous Tobias Funke (David Cross), who lost his medical license after giving CPR to a sunbathing man who didn't need it. The two have an over-indulged 14-year-old daughter, Maebe (Alia Shawkat), whose lack of smarts and penchant for trouble-making is a deadly combination. Rounding out the cast is youngest brother, Buster (Tony Hale), who spent 11 months in the womb and is, because of this, a mama's boy of the highest order. His naive way and history of pampered, useless education, are of no use in the wilds of the real world and, in combination with the rest of his siblings, he's just another weight dragging down big-hearted Michael.

Now, injected into this perfectly created, deftly written series is a string of wonderful cameos -- from Liza Minnelli to Henry Winkler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But what makes the series levitate is the writing, which cleverly and subtly puts the Bluth family in a series of ever-worsening situations that allow jokes to be both ludicrously visual and verbally adroit, with punch lines that never pause for a laugh.

One of the real surprises in this series -- precisely the reason it deserves at this moment to be favorably compared to "Seinfeld" -- is that "Arrested Development" has improved with each episode and hasn't, in a full 18 episodes, had one creative misstep. This is a dazzling creative achievement.

Now, it's been suggested that "Arrested Development" is somehow too subtle or ironic or something for the "rest" of America to get. That's nonsense. This is a series that's merely waiting to be discovered and, like "Seinfeld" before it, enough patience, adoring word of mouth and critical acclaim will make that happen. This is a show for all people. Once they find it, they will get it. But obviously not this season. Like fans of all underappreciated, wonderful TV shows, those people who have already found "Arrested Development" can't believe it's not a hit. Their worry about the future -- justified, by the way -- makes them certain that Fox is unaware of how truly special the series is. That, too, is nonsense. Fox executives know what they've got -- but the nature of the business trumps the nurture part.

Not always, of course. "The Seinfeld Chronicles" ran in July of 1989, got pulled, came back in May of 1990 as "Seinfeld," got shelved again, then aired in January of 1991. But it took two seasons after that and a shift from Wednesdays to Thursdays, before "Seinfeld" went from cult to national hit. Patience like that is rare, but CBS showed something similar with "Everybody Loves Raymond." In both cases, the shows were more than just very good. They couldn't be ignored. (Sometimes that doesn't translate into fulfilled potential -- just look at "Scrubs" on NBC, a series given chances, but possibly not the right ones executed the right way.)

Fox has aired many very good sitcoms, from "Action" to "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" (among many possible examples). But "Arrested Development" is not only stronger and funnier but it has a striking likability and wide audience appeal that the others may have lacked. Fox knows this. Now it needs to prove it has a strategy to get viewers to the show.

Part of a critic's duty is to rally around brilliance. Very often this fails -- whether it be "Sports Night" or "Cupid" or "EZ Streets" or "My So- Called Life" -- the examples are too many and too painful to recall in detail. But right at this moment Fox has in its possession a series that equates with HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and BBC America's "The Office," the finest examples of comedy on television in recent memory. Both those shows are beyond merely great -- they are instant classics.

"Arrested Development" has four more episodes. It won't be enough and Fox knows it. But bringing it back for 22 more next fall shouldn't even be a question. Fox has in its hand what TV Land dubbed a "future classic." Now it needs to wait for that future, to wait for the people.

(edited by JMShapiro on 7.4.04 1743)
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Battlezone
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Since: 27.2.03
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.78
A whole article about my new favorite show, and no mention of my two favorite characters-Surely, Maybe's handicapped twin sister, and Carl Weathers as Tobias' acting coach? For shame!

The good news is that Fox has a solid Sunday lineup, so they might give this show a chance to grow. The bad news is, unlike shows like "Cheers" and "Seinfeld", studio execs don't want to give shows like this a chance to grow, because it's easier and cheaper to toss a reality show in it's place.

At least if they do cancel it, I know I can look forward to a DVD release, since that's the trend these days.

(edited by Battlezone on 7.4.04 1626)


"It's the four pillars of the male heterosexual psyche. We like naked women, stockings, lesbians, and Sean Connery best as James Bond because that is what being a [man] is." -Jack Davenport, Coupling
CRZ
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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.65
    Originally posted by Battlezone
    At least if they do cancel it, I know I can look forward to a DVD release, since that's the trend these days.
Or...you could have just been taping it, and you'd have it NOW!



CRZ
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Since: 28.4.02
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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.71
    Originally posted by CRZ
      Originally posted by Battlezone
      At least if they do cancel it, I know I can look forward to a DVD release, since that's the trend these days.
    Or...you could have just been taping it, and you'd have it NOW!


What are you, Amish? :)



""[The word] liberal derives from the Latin 'liberalis' - of freedom, befitting the free. Synonyms are progressive, broad-minded, unprejudiced and generous; while antonyms include reactionary, narrow-minded, intolerant and stingy. Accordingly, a political liberal is an open-minded person who considers all the arguments before drawing conclusions. A conservative, on the other hand, clings to one position and sees no reason to entertain diverse viewpoints because he already has his mind made up. Are mainstream media 'liberal'? I certainly hope so."
-~Forrest Wood~-
PeterStork
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Since: 25.1.02
From: Chicagoland with Hoosiers, or "The Region"

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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.49
After cancelling Wonderfalls, there's no way Fox head Gail Berman will can Arrested Development.

Every television critic in the country will gang up and beat the living crap out of her.

The sad thing is, when she took over for Sandy Grushow the word was, "oh, all those cancellations were Sandy's ideas, even though I ran the office day-to-day. Andy Richter? I liked it, he didn't. Keen Eddie? I LOVED IT, but Sandy just HAD to cancel it. Things will be different now."

Sure, Gail.

First thing: fail to promote Wonderfalls properly, stick it on Friday, then Thursday opposite CSI and The Apprentice (two shows that, if you haven't checked, perform very poorly in the ratings) and then cancel it after four episodes after every major critic in the land verbally fellates it.

Sure, Gail, we trust you now. There's NO WAY you'll cancel Arrested Development and replace it with another crappy reality show.

Honestly, I don't think she has the balls to do it.



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Since: 27.2.03
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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.29
I love Arrested Development, but even I am prone to describing it as "so clever, you'll have to see the last two episodes on DVD."
Dr Unlikely
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.35
Gob is the best character on TV in this uncertain, post-George Mason world. I love this show, everybody should watch it. Maybe they can land a Saddam guest appearance for the last round of sweeps to save the series.
Santa Sangre
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Since: 21.6.02
From: Germany

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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.66
I really like Arrested Development too...I just haven't watched it since the Sopranos has come back. Yes, I know I can catch the multiple Sopranos reruns, but I have to watch it right when it comes on. I'm that hooked. As for Arrested, it should be on reruns by the time Sopranos is done, I hope. If not and it does get cancelled, I'll have to buy the dvd.

I actually like Oliver Bean too. So if Fox brings that back, a Sunday night line up of Simpsons, Oliver, Malcom, and Arrested isn't too shaby.

GOB definately is funny as hell. What with him riding around on the segway and the one time he was gonna break out of jail by putting the key up his...damn that show is funny.



Now here's my counter offer to your counter offer. Go fuck yourself.
JustinShapiro
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Since: 12.12.01
From: Pittsburgh, PA

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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.76
Gob *is* the world's greatest human. I would seriously give Emmys to Jason Bateman (best actor), Will Arnett (supporting actor), Jessica Walter (supporting actress), Carl Weathers (guest actor), Liza Minelli (guest actress), and Key Decisions (best episode). Of course, I am talking about hypothetical Emmys where Cheryl Hines and John C. McGinley would be favorites instead of the entire cast of Sex & The City.

(edited by JMShapiro on 7.4.04 2037)
PeterStork
Sujuk








Since: 25.1.02
From: Chicagoland with Hoosiers, or "The Region"

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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.57
    Originally posted by JMShapiro
    Of course, I am talking about hypothetical Emmys where Cheryl Hines and John C. McGinley would be favorites instead of the entire cast of Sex & The City.

    (edited by JMShapiro on 7.4.04 2037)


I'd give Tambor the nod over Arnett, but I would HARDLY complain if anyone from the show wins. Ditto Walter as supporting actress; I can never watch the film P.C.U. the same again.

It'll be interesting to see how the Academy approaches Arrested, especially since Ron Howard is so intimately involved. They've nominated Jeffrey Tambor before (Hank "Hey Now" Kingsley) and Bateman is hardly new to television.

This will be the show critics will be demanding nominations for, and they usually get their wish for at least one show.

Then again, there was Homicide. Everyone knows Homicide wasn't as good as Chicago Hope. By "everyone," of course, I mean "the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences."



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OlFuzzyBastard
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Since: 28.4.02
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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.69
The Emmys tend to be extremely conservative in terms of nominating new shows. I can all but promise you they'll nominate damn near the exact same shows they nominated last year. (At least the year after will be free of the Friends / Frasier / Sex And The City block but with each show's "historic final season", there's no way they won't clog up the nominees. Add in the fact that the critics have unanimously decided to convince themselves that "Will & Grace" is brilliant, and you only really leave one spot.)

In an ideal world, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Scrubs would be dominating this fall's awards seeing as, you know, they're pretty much the only good comedies on television. But it's not going to happen.

(Pity, too, because I honestly think a ton of Emmy nominations is the only real shot Arrested Development has for a second season.)



""[The word] liberal derives from the Latin 'liberalis' - of freedom, befitting the free. Synonyms are progressive, broad-minded, unprejudiced and generous; while antonyms include reactionary, narrow-minded, intolerant and stingy. Accordingly, a political liberal is an open-minded person who considers all the arguments before drawing conclusions. A conservative, on the other hand, clings to one position and sees no reason to entertain diverse viewpoints because he already has his mind made up. Are mainstream media 'liberal'? I certainly hope so."
-~Forrest Wood~-
JustinShapiro
Scrapple
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Since: 12.12.01
From: Pittsburgh, PA

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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.82
Gobias~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jaguar
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Since: 23.1.02
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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.62
I'm sorry, but I've watched Alias (as bad as it can be at some points) for too many seasons now to give up on it just because Arrested Development is the best TV show ever. Maybe if Fox Sunday nights hadn't gone so far downhill, I'd still be watching.

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Alex
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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.06
I fucking hate television. It's gotten to the point where I shy away from watching anything on network TV, lest I find the show enjoyable enough to watch repeatedly, only to tune in next week and find it cancelled. Like, with Firefly. I knew that was going to get screwed over by Fox, so I didn't bother watching it, because they probably wouldn't even show the whole thing.

So, I've developed a habit of reading now. It's nice, because I know that halfway through a book, it's not going to abruptly end before the story is over.



This will get added at the end of each post you make, below an horizontal line. This should preferably be kept to a small enough size.
JustinShapiro
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Since: 12.12.01
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#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.82
"just because Arrested Development is the best TV show ever."

You say that pejoratively (I think), but at this moment in time I would probably say that it's the best single season I've ever seen for a show. Ahead of the last season of Seinfeld*, ahead of Friends season 5, ahead of Curb pick-a-year.

* a minority pick, but it's my favorite because it is so ZANY.


"Maybe if Fox Sunday nights hadn't gone so far downhill, I'd still be watching."

Aw, I don't watch any of the other shows, they stink.
uberlou
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#16 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.64
I gotta agree with Mack Salmon about network tv dying, especially on Fox. I mean the network's being taken over by the most ridiculous reality shows (The Swan? c'mon). I was bummed about Firefly, and Wonderfalls really was the last straw. But to soften the blow for the loss of Wonderfalls, i've turned to Arrested Development. I've been hearing the great reviews all season and i've been meaning to watch it, just never got a chance to until last week. I gotta admit, Amy Poehler guest starring was one of the things that drew me in.

I've pretty much got sucked into the show since then. Plus Shapiro's a very persuassive guy Thanks to the wonders of the internet, i've watched the last 9 episodes within the last week

Tobias is probably my favorite character on the show; I'm a David Cross mark though. Gob is quite possible the slimiest characters on comedic television ever! He's great! The one episode where he rolled onto the construction area on the segway practically going off-road with it, that was awesome. Will Arnett's got the sleazeball role down good.

The best part is all the people that show up during the season as mentioned by Shapiro, Liza Minelli, Henry Winkler, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, and Carl-freakin'-Weathers(!!!), to name a few. Then you've got Portia deRossi (hot and funny, can't go wrong there) and Alia Shawkat/Maeby who at times reminds me of a young Mila Kunis...

I know "Save..." campaigns have already started for this show, I guess there's been rumors of A.D. getting the axe too. That would be the nail in the coffin for Fox, for me at least.

Kudos for the hard sell, Shapiro.





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TheMASKEDComputerGeek
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Since: 7.1.02
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#17 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.09
    Originally posted by JMShapiro
    Gobias~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



*nods emphatically*



the best show on TV right now, hands down. and nobody is watching it. :(

(edited by CRZ on 12.4.04 1004)


Caped Boy: Excuse me, ladies. You may remember me as the guy who came to dinner a few weeks ago with underwear on my head. My name is Keith Stat from Milbourne, New Jersey. State bird, the mosquito. And as you may have heard I am recently a crowned class B dungeon-master. So if any of you would like to play D&D today, please speak now or forever hold your peace.
[He chuckles, and there is an awkward silence at the table.]
Caped Boy: Anyone? Alexa!
[Alexa gives him a withering glare.]
Caped Boy: Maybe you would like to join in? We do need a druid, and you have definitely cast a level 5 charm spell on me.
Alexa: In your dreams, douche-bag!
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[Keith walks off]
Alexa: Ewww!


- Wet Hot American Summer
whatever
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Since: 12.2.02
From: Cleveland, Ohio

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#18 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.40
    Originally posted by TheMASKEDComputerGeek
      Originally posted by JMShapiro
      Gobias~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



    *nods emphatically*



    the best show on TV right now, hands down. and nobody is watching it. :(

I must admit, this thread got me to watch this week. I enjoyed the show, and will make a point to watch it now.

Thank god for VCR's though - I was taping "Band of Brothers" on the History channel.

(edited by whatever on 12.4.04 0934)

(edited by CRZ on 12.4.04 1005)

Cavaliers: 33-47. Look out next year!
Indians: 2-5. Look out below, no lead is safe!
Browns: 0-0. Soon to be a Policy-free zone.

The last WOTD of 2003! FINALLY!
DrewDewce
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Since: 2.1.02
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#19 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.75
Certainly one of the best shows on tv, and I hope it survives to a second season.

With most shows I end up "loving," there's usually a moment I notice that is not a "beat you over the head" gag, but one that you have to kind of pay attention for. I usually point to the Simpson's episode where Homer and the kids meet Adam West at a car show and as he waxes poetic about the many sultry divas who had played Catwoman, the camera angle began to tilt, much like the old Batman tv series. Subtle, but brilliant in my opinion.

There was one of those moments a few weeks ago on AD: Michael, Gob and their lawyer (Henry Winkler) are in the bathroom checking themselves out before they leave to go to their various ladies. Henry Winkler gets ready to run a comb through his hair, pauses, kind-of gives an "AAAAYYYY" and leaves without touching it in a nod to his pose from the old opening to "Happy Days." Again, subtle, but brilliant. The beat you over the head stuff on this show is pretty damn funny too.

Check it out if you get the time and Fox keeps it around.



"You have the right to suffer. You have the right to feel pain. If you wish to have an attorney present, I'll hurt him too!" - The Big Bossman
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