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ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
Season Two

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jason Bateman, Portia De Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter
Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 396 Minutes
Release Date: October 11, 2005

“What the hell just fell off your face? One of this guy’s eyebrows just fell in the bowl of candy beans.”

“I always carry a spare.”

“Well, I hope you also carry a spare bowl of candy beans.”

Shows ****

The best way to describe Arrested Development is a show that was a gift from the television gods. No other show has made me laugh harder upon repeated viewings. Yes, this is one of the rare TV series on DVD that I find myself revisiting quite frequently. Hey, what can you do when a certain network decides to unfairly do away with the series?

Those wacky, unpredictable Bluths are back for more madcap hilarity in Season Two of this multiple award winning comedy series. Again, what will always separate this series from other sitcoms is the sharp as a blade writing, the go-for-broke level of the humor, which the show always succeeds at, and the sheer unpredictability of what will happen next. Another significant factor of the show’s brilliance is that it keeps you laughing so frequently, that on a second viewing you may spot something you didn’t see before due to laughing so hard at the proceedings.

Once again, the Bluth family makes us all the more grateful for our own families, because I seriously think that there isn’t a family as dementedly dim-witted as this one. Since Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) is the only responsible member of the clan and trying to keep the family afloat, he often becomes an unwanted casualty of the rest of the family’s monumental stupidity.

When we last left the family in Season One, George Bluth, Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), the crooked patriarch of the family, had escaped authorities after being hospitalized. And having officially been fed up with all the damage done to the family, Michael decides to move to Arizona with his son, George Michael (Michael Cera). But that dream of getting away doesn’t last long as Michael is soon forced back into taking up for the family.

It was also revealed in the end of Season One that the family business had taken part in the development of homes in none other than the country of Iraq. Obviously, this is another hole that Michael will have to pull the company out of, much against his wishes. And if that wasn’t enough, he is consistently pressured to give a job position to older brother, Gob (the always brilliant Will Arnett).

And just when the family learns that George Sr. has ended up in a Mexican prison, the show adds in a new character, which turns out to be the George’s twin brother, Oscar (also played by Tambor). As it turns out, George’s wife, Lucille (Jessica Walter), had an affair with Oscar long ago. Needless to say, she is looking to rekindle that spicy affair in the wake of her husband’s absence.

Meanwhile, Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), Michael’s materialistic twin sister, is not attempting at all to save her marriage. In fact, she and her husband, Tobias (David Cross), even agree to have an open relationship as they agree to each engage in the single scene. This leaves even less of an impression on their daughter, Maeby (Alia Shawkat), the cousin of George Michael whom he may still have a crush on.

Speaking of Tobias, the still-aspiring actor believes he’s gotten something of a career breakthrough. He’s hoping that the music performance art trio known as the Blue Man Group has offered him a spot. This hopeful gig leads Tobias to painting himself blue, which results in one of the funniest lines to ever make it onto television, “I’m afraid I just blue myself.”

Then there’s Buster (Tony Hale), the mentally challenged one of the bunch. If you could imagine such a thing happening, Buster gets drafted in the army, after Lucille is confronted on the street by somebody looking a lot like Michael Moore asking her if she’d send her son to the war, which she gladly does. Later in the season, Buster manages to lose his left hand to, are you ready for this, a seal.

Season Two contains many of the show’s memorable moments. The now famous chicken dance is incorporated into the series, which is all the more funny because nobody in the Bluth family seems to know the right way to do a chicken dance. In a rip on the famous video clip of the Star Wars fan’s solo lightsaber fight, George Michael records himself in a similar fashion, and it makes its way into his campaign video when he runs for student body president. And the series makes a hilarious product placement stab at Burger King, with dialogue so unbelievably funny you’d wish someone would actually say something similar every time product placement is used.

Other hilarious highlights include Gob discovering that he may have an illegitimate son. Who, you ask? You may be surprised to see. And Tobias disguises himself as an English maid, a la Mrs. Doubtfire.

And let’s not forget one important element of the laughter in Arrested Development, that of Ron Howard’s flawless job as the show’s narrator. The way little details are pointed out by way of the narrator is priceless in everyway. The narrator even gets an opportunity to shoot down the narrator of a reality show that features a story on the Bluth famlily. “Real shoddy narration. Just pure crap”, as Howard puts it.

Here’s an example of such genius comedy regarding the narrator’s comments…

GOB: “It was one night of wild passion.”

MICHAEL: “And yet, you didn’t notice her body?”

GOB “I like to look at the mirror.”

MICHAEL: “That would be disgusting if you’d actually slept with her, but I don’t think you did.”

GOB: “I Did! And it was disgusting!”

NARRATOR: (They didn’t, but it would’ve been.)

Another stroke of genius delivered by the show is how it finds hilarious supporting roles played by once big time television players. There couldn’t be a better example of this than that of Henry Winkler’s dead on performance as the incredibly inept lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn, who I didn’t even get around to mentioning in Season One. Sometimes when Barry speaks, you have to seriously wonder how he even passed the bar exam. There’s also a funny role delivered by Ed Begley, Jr, who plays the Bluth Company’s chief rival, Stan Sitwell, who suffers from a disease that renders him hairless.

And look for other star cameos throughout the season, including Zach Braff, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Julia Louis Dreyfuss, and yes, Carl Weathers as Tobias’ acting coach.

The zany brilliance of Arrested Development continues in Season Two. It’s an excellent bridge between the opening hysterics of Season One and the final season. What’s to come in Season Three, you ask? Wait right here to see.

Video ****

Fox continues their top of the line treatment of television programming with this stellar presentation. Presented in a terrific anamorphic widescreen image, the picture quality is nothing but crisp and clear quality in each episode. Colors are quite strong as well.

Audio ***

The 2.0 Dolby surround mix delivers most effectively in this presentation. Though mostly a dialogue-driven series, there’s plenty of music accompanying the proceedings. Both dialogue delivery and music playback are certainly well delivered.

Features ***

This three-disc DVD set includes commentary on three select episodes with series creator Mitchell Hurwitz and stars Will Arnett, Michael Cera, David Cross, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat and Jessica Walter. Also featured is a Season One recap, Deleted and Extended Scenes, a Blooper Reel, and the campaign videos from “The Imaculate Election” episode.

Summary:

Arrested Development continues it’s unsurpassable streak as television’s most genius sitcom with Season Two. And it further demonstrates why it is without question one of the top TV shows on DVD that you owe yourself to experience, since the format has given the unfortunately cancelled series another life, a la such other noteworthy shows as Veronica Mars and Firefly.

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