Throwback Thursday: Arrested Development
Yesterday, November 2, 2003, Arrested Development premiered on Fox!
Arrested Development is the second-best sitcom, ever. I loved Lucy first, and she still deserves the title best for being the trendsetter she is, but I'll let you in on a secret: Arrested Development is my favorite.
I had a friend in college who was an AD apologist; he would enthusiastically talk up the show and loan everyone he could his DVDs so that we could check it out. This was just a few years after it was abruptly canceled after only three seasons on Fox (which, by the way, is also responsible for the untimely demise of Firefly, two sins we must never forgive Fox for). TV on DVD was still a novelty then, and I remember being skeptical that this show was as hilarious as my friend said it was. But it is. It really, really is. It had me laughing from the first joke:
Michael Bluth: "What have we always said is the most important thing?"
George Michael: "Breakfast."
Geore Michael: "Family, right. I thought you meant of the things you eat."
AD is one of the most tightly scripted, well thought-out and clever shows I've ever encountered. The lengths that creator Mitchell Hurwitz and his writing team go to to set up and pay off jokes is staggering. I never fully appreciated this until NPR made a graph in 2013 that charted every single joke, its reference, and it's connections. I've bookmarked this page and frequently come back to it for inspiration in my own writing. Each character on the show is finely tuned, everyone has several shining comedic moments, and they all play together in a terrific ensemble that we have yet to see again in TV history.
When we talk about Arrested Development, we need to talk about Season 4. Season 4 came out three years ago on Netflix, and it just wasn't the same. I haven't even watched all of it yet, to be honest. The reason was that due to the cast being largely unavailable to film together, each episode follows individual characters rather than the ensemble we had come to know and love. Suffice it to say that if you really want to follow AD's brilliance, check out the first three seasons, all available now on Netflix. Then you can continue with the 4th, but don't get your hopes up too much.