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All posts for the month May, 2013

Inspire A Generation: Arrested Development Seasons 1-3

Published 23/05/2013 by crimsonghad

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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.

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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!!

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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.

Best of British TV – Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor

Published 18/05/2013 by crimsonghad

The second part of the 7th (33rd) series of Doctor Who has been uniformly good. From claustrophobic haunted house episode, ‘Hide’ to much derided fantastical sentimental ‘The Rings of Akhaken‘ – which I hope is reconsidered as it resonates beautifully with the final episode journey of Clara – they have all been strongly written by Steven Moffat, Neil Cross, Neil Gaiman and Steven Thompson with Matt Smith continuing to be terrific as The Doctor and adding so many dimensions (sorry) to the performance that it does not get repetitive or jarring while Jenna Louise Coleman continues to impress in her burgeoning role as someone The Doctor does not fully understand.

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The final episode ‘The Name of the Doctor’ was terrific. The opening montage of Clara being The Impossible Girl who is meant to ‘save The Doctor’ was poignant and well done. The Doctor was forced in to travelling to Trenzalore – the one place he could never go, his own tomb – to save Vastra, Jenny, Strax and Clara from the Great Intelligence. We were told we would finally get to know his real name. We were excited. We were anticipating a huge reveal. The ONLY way to enter his tomb was to say his real name – or all of his companions would have their hearts tickled to death (we were never quite clear about that) by the Whispermen – henchmen of the Great Intelligence. It had to happen. Then and there. Yes. Finally. The name of The Doctor. Doctor Who? DOCTOR WHO? DOCTOR WHO!?!?!?!?!? We still do not know. We did not get it. A copy of dead River Song post ‘Silence in the Library’ suddenly appeared to say his name off camera to gain access to the tomb of The Doctor (a massive TARDIS by the way). Normally this would create an almighty backlash as the fans would feel cheated. However, this was a terrific episode and lays bigger storylines.

**********SPOILER ALERT**************

The Impossible Girl was impossible. She was a regular girl who saved The Doctor to rescue all of the universe from a vengeful Great Intelligence who had entered The Doctor’s dead body (his entire living history contained in the form of a giant time travelling lava lamp, apparently) to contaminate his past and kill him before he could win his past battles. So all of his history would be rewritten and the universe would be taken over by Cybermen, Daleks and those little pieces of fat in boxes that had Sarah Lancaster as a babysitter. With The Doctor dying in front of her eyes along with history being rewritten and destroyed Clara followed the Great Intelligence and was instantly splintered in to millions of realities to save The Doctor, every single doctor.

*************BIGGER SPOILER ALERT**************

At the end we found out that Clara did not die. River was there and The Doctor (ridiculously) was able to hold her and kiss her despite the fact she did not exist in reality in what was a very moving scene where the hurt of love took its emotional toll on both her and the ‘God’ she could never truly have. So The Doctor followed Clara in to his own dead body (bit weird) and joined her in a reality of all previous 11 Doctors…or so we thought…standing in front of them was the twelfth doctor…John bloody Hurt…as what was implied to be a war-mongering Doctor who murdered his way through life. The darkness begins here…? The speculation certainly will begin furiously as to who, what and how. All I can say is bring on the 188 days (I looked it up ok) until the 50th Anniversary Special.

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