I’ve made a huge mistake…Arrested Development Season 4 hits Netflix all at once on 26 May. I am going to be at a Wee Brain wedding for Les Cousins Dangereux and my party piece will be walking over a pool of water and setting fire to the bride, again, so I will listen to my hermano and be a Motherboy for a day. *claps like a chicken* yes I know I sound like ‘Frightened Inmate #2’ when I should open my big pink mouth to say, come on! then go and watch The Trial of Captain Hook with a loose seal but ‘family love Michael’ so I must open the family chequebook one more time rather than go to Phoenix, work for Sitwell Enterprises or even use my Aztec Tomb to escape to the Milford Academy where I’m seen and not heard, so I can watch some Caged Wisdom in the peace and quiet of The OC (don’t call it that)… worse still the wedding is in Reno, so it’s a huge, tiny mistake…
…so, yes, if you’ve never seen Arrested Development before that first paragraph is the most convoluted nonsense written since Dan Brown’s Inferno was released the other week *zing* and if you have seen it but thought ‘meh’ then I’m sorry, Ted? Is it Ted? Did Ted make an appointment? No? Well, then, Ted can get the hell out of this office! YOU GET THE HELL OUT!!!! And that’s how you keep out unwanted visitors…so that’s enough of the quotes. I have demonstrated I am a hopelessly obsessed fan of seasons 1-3 and the only people left are you, me and the tumbleweeds.
Arrested Development is unique. It is written, by Mitch Hurwitz, as a fly on the wall documentary comedy without a laughter track based around rich, spoilt, obnoxious and deeply unlovable characters who have fallen from grace as their greed and power has broken the law in a nationwide scandal that has ruined the company they own. And yet you can’t help but love them. This is because the comedy is so slick that the people you perceive to be arrogant end up as hilarious parodies of the type of individuals you see in real life. It’s like watching The Apprentice in an actual sitcom style and it works wonderfully well. And it is basically a bunch of posh knob gags. And it is impossible to fail with that.
Of course, it would never have been cancelled if this were true. The sad fact is that it requires a lot of attention and patience to watch AD. There are literally hundreds (slight exaggeration) of in-jokes per episode and the sheer amount of call backs demand that you watch each programme in order of broadcast to fully appreciate the comedy that flows. Indeed, I have watched all 3 seasons of AD approximately 6 times now and each episode brings me a new joke that I had not spotted before, whether it be in the dialogue, an extra in-joke, the visual background or a reference that I had previously ignored. The richness and depth of AD makes it an immediate cult classic and that is why I love it so much. It is also why it was cancelled due to a lack of popularity – that and poor marketing.
As well as the brilliant writing the main characters are all fantastic. It is impossible to go in to depth or wax lyrical with enough justification so here is a one line overview of the best of them:
Michael Bluth – fulcrum of the family: reliable, kind and handsome yet selfish, arrogant and vindictive when it’s as plain as the Ann on egg’s face
Lindsay Funke Bluth – Michael’s ‘twin’ sister and supposed activist in a sham marriage to Tobias and an unhealthy obsession with men, money and herself
GOB Bluth – failed magician and self-loathing womaniser with a unique interpretation of how a chicken dances
George Michael Bluth – nervous, obsessive, obedient son of Michael who yearns his father’s approval in exactly the same way as his father seeks his father’s approval. Loves his cousin
Buster Bluth – Motherboy who cannot escape the confines of his childhood due to constant panic attacks, crippling self doubt and various contests with his adopted brother. Dates Liza Minnelli
Tobias Funke – possible closet homosexual, never nude, actor, author, sometime Blue Man, doctor with cat-like reflexes, Analrapist and an insatiable thirst for unwittingly scandalous double entendres
Maeby Funke – compulsive liar and rebellious daughter of Tobias and Lindsay who is probably the most successful and smartest character in the family
Lucille Bluth – drunken matriarch who hates her family but can’t survive without them in spite of her protestations
George Bluth Sr – overbearing selfish patriarch guilty of tax evasion who has committed multiple affairs and attempted escaped from prison on many occasions
Narrator – Ron Howard, an integral character to keep the flow of the show and link each segment
Oscar Bluth – George’s hippy twin brother with fabulous hair like a lion and an obsession with Lucille
Carl Weathers – Carl ‘fucking’ Weathers…baby we got a stew going
Ann Veal – George Michael’s plain, dull Christian girlfriend with a hot mum
Annyong Bluth – Korean adopted by Lucille to teach Buster a lesson
Barry Zuckerkorn – George Bluth’s terrible lawyer with a questionable personal life and even worse ability to practise law
Kitty Sanchez – George Bluth’s crazy secretary who tends to all of his needs and likes to show you her breasts as long as you don’t look at them
Lucille Austero – Lucille Bluth’s best friend. Buster’s sometime girlfriend. Liza Minnelli
Wayne Jarvis – replacement lawyer for Barry Zuckerkorn. What a pro
Bob Loblaw – replacement lawyer for replacement lawyer. Lindsay wants him badly
Marta Estrella – GOB’s Colombian or Mexican or whatever girlfriend. Famous actress
Franklin Delano Bluth – GOB’s puppet. Has much in common with Michael Jackson and likes to knock people out
Steve Holt – STEVE HOLT!!
In conclusion, Arrested Development is amazing. The writing is uniformly superb. The characters and acting crazy, varied and brilliant. The storylines are surreal, silly and yet so complex they demand repeat viewing. If you’ve never seen it before don’t watch season 4 yet. Go and buy seasons 1-3 (or watch them on Netflix I guess) watch them all at once, laugh yourself silly and then join the cult. If not you will essentially be pulling your own arm off. And that’s why you always leave a note.