Arrested Development (TV series)


Arrested Development (TV series)
Arrested Development
Arrested Development.svg
Genre Sitcom
Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
Starring
Narrated by Ron Howard (uncredited)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 53 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Fox (2003–2006)
Netflix (2013)
Picture format
Original run November 2, 2003 (2003-11-02) – February 10, 2006 (2006-02-10)

Arrested Development is an American television sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The show's storyline centers on the Bluth family, a formerly wealthy, habitually dysfunctional family and is presented in a continuous format, incorporating hand-held camera work, narration, archival photos, and historical footage. Ron Howard is an executive producer and the uncredited narrator. Although set in Newport Beach and Balboa Island, California, Arrested Development was primarily filmed around Culver City and Marina del Rey. Three seasons of the show were produced and aired between 2003 and 2006.

Since debuting on November 2, 2003, the series earned six Emmy awards, one Golden Globe, widespread critical acclaim and attracted a cult following, including several fan-based websites,[1] and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME."[2]

Despite the approval from critics, Arrested Development never climbed in the ratings. Fox aired the final four episodes of the third season in a block as a two-hour series finale on February 10, 2006, opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics (which was being broadcast on NBC). Despite its cancellation, the series has developed a devoted fanbase and cult following. A script is currently under development for a movie adaptation of Arrested Development. The main cast of the TV series will reprise their roles.[3]

On October 2, 2011, it was announced that there are plans for the show to return for nine or ten episode mini-series that will lead up to a feature-length film.[4] On November 18, 2011, it was confirmed that Netflix would exclusively license an unspecified amount of new episodes for an early 2013 debut on its streaming video service.[5]

Contents

Development

Discussion that led to the creation of the series began in the summer of 2002. Ron Howard had the original idea to create a comedy in the style of hand-held cameras and reality television, but with an elaborate, highly comical script resulting from repeated rewritings and rehearsals.[6] Howard met with David Nevins, the President of Imagine Television, Katie O'Connell, a senior vice president, and two writers, including Mitchell Hurwitz. In light of recent corporate accounting scandals, such as Enron and Adelphia, Hurwitz suggested a story about a "riches to rags" family. Howard and Imagine were immediately interested in using this idea, and signed Hurwitz on to write the show. The idea was pitched and sold in the fall of 2002. Over the next few months, Hurwitz developed the characters and plot to the series. The pilot script was submitted in January 2003, and filmed in March 2003. It was submitted in late April, and added to the Fox fall schedule in May.[6]

Characters

The plot of Arrested Development revolves around the members of the Bluth family, who generally lead excessive lifestyles. At the center of the show is the relatively honorable Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), who strives to do the right thing and keep his family together, despite their materialism, selfishness, and manipulative natures. His teenage son, George Michael (Michael Cera), has the same qualities of decency, but feels a constant pressure to live up to his father's expectations, and is often reluctant to follow his father's plans. Michael is a widowed single father. His wife, Tracy, died two years previously of ovarian cancer.

Michael's own father George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) is the patriarch of the family. At times dictatorial, George Sr. goes to considerable lengths to manipulate and control his family. His wife, and Michael's mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), is equally manipulative, materialistic, and hypercritical of every member of her family, as well as being a perpetual drunk. In particular, she has a tight grip on her youngest son, Byron "Buster" Bluth (Tony Hale), who, as a result of his mother's dominance and sheltering, is unstable, socially inept, and prone to panic attacks.

Michael's older brother is Gob, played by Will Arnett. His name is an acronym for George Oscar Bluth II, and although pronounced Jōb [dʒoʊb], as in the Biblical figure, it is frequently mispronounced as Gŏb [gɑb] by various characters in the show. Gob is an unsuccessful professional magician whose business and personal schemes usually fail, or become tiresome and are abandoned. He uses a Segway for transportation, and sometimes converses with others from it while stationary, as if it were a pulpit. Gob is used by his father to undermine Michael's control of the family business. Michael's twin sister Lindsay Fünke (Portia de Rossi) is flamboyant and materialistic, continually desiring to be the center of attention and attracted to various social causes, usually for a week or so. She enjoys being objectified but also protests it. She is married to Tobias Fünke (David Cross), a discredited psychiatrist, aspiring actor, and "never-nude", whose language and behavior have heavy homosexual overtones to which he seems completely oblivious and which are the center of much tongue-in-cheek comedy throughout the series. Their precocious daughter Mae "Maeby" Fünke (Alia Shawkat) is the polar opposite of her cousin George Michael—skipping school, cheating on homework, and stealing money from the family's frozen banana stand business (which also happens to be managed by George Michael). The ever-rebellious teen, Maeby's chief motivation is defying her parents' wishes.

Several other characters regularly appear in minor roles. George Sr.'s identical twin brother, Oscar (also played by Jeffrey Tambor, in a wig), is a lethargic ex-hippie seeking the affection of George's wife, Lucille. The family's lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler), is an incompetent sexual deviant who often hinders the family's legal battles rather than helping them. He is eventually replaced by Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio). Lucille Austero, or "Lucille 2", played by Liza Minnelli, is Lucille's "best friend and chief social rival" as well as a sometimes-love interest of Buster and, later, Gob. Steve Holt (Justin Grant Wade) is a high school senior (taking the year for the third time, as evidenced by his appearance in three yearbooks) and football star at the high school George Michael and Maeby attend. He often shouts his name, "Steve Holt!", while pumping his fists in the air. He is later discovered to be Gob's biological son. Carl Weathers plays a parodic version of himself as an unemployed, excessively thrifty, stew-loving actor. Beginning in the second season, Mae Whitman portrays Ann Veal, George Michael's sternly Christian girlfriend, who is often forgotten or disparaged by Michael. Marta Estrella is played by both Leonor Varela and Patricia Velasquez. She is originally Gob's girlfriend, but Michael falls in love with her, which eventually causes conflict between him and Gob. Ann was played by Alessandra Torresani in the character's first appearance in Season 1 in the episode "Let 'Em Eat Cake". J. Walter Weatherman (Steve Ryan), a one-armed amputee, is an old employee of George Senior. Weatherman appears in flashbacks from many episodes where, as hired by George Sr., he would lose his prosthetic arm in attempts to scare Michael, Gob, Lindsay, and Buster and teach them such lessons as "Always leave a note", "Don't yell", "Don't leave the door open with the air conditioner on" and "Don't teach lessons to your son." A British mentally handicapped woman named Rita Leeds (Charlize Theron) appears in five episodes in the third season as Michael's female companion. Michael was completely unaware of her mental condition until just before their wedding was supposed to begin. Judy Greer plays George Bluth Senior's assistant and lover (and partner-in-crime), Kitty Sanchez, for 10 episodes of the series.

Casting

Alia Shawkat was the first person cast. Michael Cera, Tony Hale, and Jessica Walter were cast from video tapes and flown in to audition for Fox. Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi both read and auditioned for the network and were immediately chosen. The character of Gob was the most challenging to cast. When Will Arnett auditioned, he depicted the character with a "macho" streak different from expectations;[clarification needed] he was chosen immediately. The characters of Tobias and George Sr. were originally going to have minor roles, but David Cross's and Jeffrey Tambor's portrayals mixed well with the rest of the characters, and they were given more significant parts.[6] Ron Howard, the executive producer, provided the narration for the initial pilot but meshed so well with the tone of the program that the decision was made to stick with his voice. Howard also aided in the casting of "Lucille 2"; the producers told him that their dream actress for the role would be Liza Minnelli but assumed nobody of her stature would take the part. However, she agreed when Ron Howard asked her himself, because they were old friends; she had been his babysitter when he was a child and she was a teen.[7]

Notable guests

Recurring roles

Guest appearances and cameos

Plot

First season

George Bluth Sr., patriarch of the Bluth family, is the founder and former CEO of the Bluth Company, which markets and builds mini-mansions, among other activities. His son Michael serves as manager of the company, and, after being passed over for a promotion, decides to leave both the company and his family. Just as he makes this decision, however, George Sr. is arrested by the Securities and Exchange Commission for defrauding investors and gross spending of the company's money for "personal expenses". His wife Lucille becomes CEO, and immediately names as the new president her extremely sheltered youngest son Buster, who proves ill-equipped, as his only experience with business is a class he took concerning 18th century agrarian business. Furious at being passed over again, Michael secures another job with a rival company and plans on leaving his family behind for good. Realizing that they need Michael, the family asks him to come back and run the company, which Michael scoffs at until he sees how much the family means to his teenaged son George Michael. To keep the family together, Michael asks his self-centered twin sister Lindsay, her husband Tobias and their daughter Maeby to live together in the Bluth model home with him and George Michael.

Throughout the first season, different characters struggle to change their identities. Buster works to escape from his mother's control through brotherly bonding and love interests such as Lucille Austero, Lucille Bluth's neighbor and chief social rival. George Michael nurses a forbidden crush on his cousin Maeby, while continually trying to meet his father's expectations. Lindsay's husband Tobias, a psychiatrist who lost his medical license, searches for work as an actor, with the aid of Carl Weathers. Michael falls in love with his screw-up older brother Gob's neglected girlfriend Marta, and is torn between being with her and putting "family first." After seeing Michael physically fight with Gob, Marta realizes that they do not share the same family values and she leaves them both. To spite Buster, Lucille adopts a Korean son whom she calls "Annyong" after she mistakes the Korean word for "hello" as his name. Through an escalating series of dares, Gob gets married to a woman he just met, played by real-life wife Amy Poehler, but cannot get an annulment because he refuses to admit that he did not consummate the marriage. Kitty, George Sr.'s former assistant and mistress, tries to blackmail the company. She is caught in the Bluth family yacht's explosion, as used in one of Gob's magic acts, but survives with a cooler full of damning evidence labeled "H Maddas". After previous failed attempts, and a brief religious stint in Judaism, George Sr. finally escapes from prison by faking a heart attack. It is also revealed that George committed "light treason" by using the company to build mini-palaces for Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Second season

Tobias (David Cross) dresses up as a British nanny, Mrs. Featherbottom, to get closer to his family (à la Mrs. Doubtfire)

Because of his father's latest prison break deception (a faked heart attack), Michael decides to leave his family and move to Phoenix, Arizona with George Michael, but discovers that due to the Bluth Company being under investigation he cannot leave the state. Lucille appoints Gob the new Bluth Company president, but since Gob proves utterly incompetent, the position's real duties revert to Michael. During the rest of the season Gob serves as figurehead president; Michael is still under scrutiny for George Sr.'s illegal activity.

George Sr. is not, in fact, gone. After faking his death in Mexico by paying off the cops, George Sr. returns to the family model home, where George Michael discovers him and hides him in the attic. To protect his son from legal implications, Michael hides George Sr. in Gob's Aztec Tomb, orchestrates a diversion, and tells the family that George Sr. has escaped once more. Throughout the rest of the season, Michael sneaks George Sr. provisions and George Sr. keeps tabs on the Bluth family through the ventilation system. George Sr. also faces onslaught from the outside world; the press begins looking for him in Iraq, fumigators surround the house while he's still in the attic, and Kitty returns to steal a sample of his semen to make her own Bluth baby.

Buster meanwhile joins the army, but escapes serving in Iraq when his hand is bitten off by a loose seal (a play on "Lucille") Gob mistakenly gave a taste for mammal flesh. Buster is refitted with a sharp hook, which he is wont to brandish dangerously near his relatives' faces. During Buster's long psychological recovery, he bonds with George Sr.'s stoned twin brother Oscar, who moves in with Lucille in an attempt to rekindle a past love affair. Uncle Oscar slowly reveals himself as Buster's presumptive biological father. Eventually, George Sr. takes revenge on the adulterous Oscar and Lucille by kidnapping Oscar, knocking him unconscious, exchanging appearances with him, and sending him to prison in his place.

Lindsay and Tobias continue their disastrous open relationship. Lindsay tries (but fails) to secure a lover, while Tobias paints himself blue each night in a futile attempt to join the Blue Man Group. When Lindsay kicks him out of the house, Tobias disguises himself as a singing British nanny named "Mrs. Featherbottom" (an idea he gets from the film Mrs. Doubtfire) so he can watch over his daughter Maeby. The family sees right through this incompetent disguise, but they humor Tobias—in the guise of Mrs. Featherbottom he also does their chores.

George Michael begins dating a deeply religious girl, Ann Veal, who encourages him to smash pop music CDs and to run for student body president against perennial favorite Steve Holt. Michael dislikes her and tries to disrupt the kids' relationship, most notably by breaking up Ann and George Michael's pre-engagement. Meanwhile, Maeby cons her way into an after school job as a film studio executive. When Maeby's studio remakes "Les Cousins Dangereux," George Michael abandons Ann to pursue his crush on Maeby. George Michael and Maeby kiss while the living room of the model home collapses under them.

Third season

Michael again searches for his runaway father, George Sr. Gob receives an invitation to a father/son reunion outing, and believes it to be George Sr. trying to contact him. In reality, the invitation was meant to reunite Gob with Steve Holt, son of Eve Holt, a girl Gob slept with in high school. Meanwhile, George Michael and Maeby deal with their previous kiss by avoiding each other. Gob is excited to find out that he managed to get his puppet, Franklin, officially "in the system," meaning Franklin may be called for jury duty someday or be called to testify at a trial.

In an attempt to remain in disguise, George Sr. joins the Blue Man Group. Michael discovers this and arranges to have his father placed under house arrest. George Sr. claims that he was set up by an underground British group. Michael goes to Wee Britain, a fictional British-themed city district, to investigate, and in the process meets a new love interest, Rita Leeds (Charlize Theron). Michael and the audience are led to believe that Rita is a mole for the underground British group, working for a man named "Mr. F." However, love-struck Michael proposes to her, and the couple run off to wed. Finally, it is revealed that Rita is actually an "MRF," or "mentally retarded female." Despite Rita's "condition," the family pushes him to go forward with the marriage because Rita is wealthy and they want her money. Michael is not persuaded and gently ends the relationship just as he and Rita are about to walk down the aisle. Meanwhile, Tobias and Lindsay seek legal help from Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio) concerning their troubled marriage.

With the family's retainer used up because of Lindsay's and Tobias's advances, Bob Loblaw chooses to no longer represent the Bluth family. Attorney Jan Eagleman offers to represent the family, on the condition that they participate in a mock trial in a new reality courtroom show called "Mock Trial with J. Reinhold." Musical accompaniment for the show's theme song and perceived jokes from testifying witnesses is provided by "William Hung And His Hung Jury." Michael uses an illegal threat from prosecutor Wayne Jarvis to have the mock case "dismissed." Gob and Franklin briefly appear in another courtroom show presided over by Bud Cort. Meanwhile, Maeby and George Michael perform a mock wedding for Alzheimer's patient which is accidentally conducted by a real priest; the two become legally married.

The family members are afraid to testify at the mock trial and at the real deposition; Buster fakes a coma, Lindsay and Lucille fake entering rehab, and Gob flees the country to perform in a USO Tour in Iraq. The deceptions are all uncovered by the prosecution, and in Iraq Gob is arrested for inadvertently inciting an anti-US riot. Buster and Michael travel to Iraq to rescue Gob, and while there, uncover evidence that the mini-palaces George Sr. built in Iraq were actually ordered and paid for by the CIA for wiretapping purposes. After this discovery, the US government drops all of the charges against George Sr. In the general confusion, everyone except George Michael forgets Maeby's sixteenth birthday.

To celebrate their victory in Iraq, the Bluths throw a shareholders' party on the RMS Queen Mary. During preparation for the party, it is revealed that Lindsay was adopted, meaning that George Michael and Maeby are not blood relatives. At the party, the Bluth's other adopted child, Annyong, reappears. He reveals that he is there to avenge the Bluth family's theft of his grandfather's frozen banana idea and the cause of his subsequent deportation, an event orchestrated many years earlier by Lucille Bluth. Annyong has turned over evidence implicating Lucille in the Bluth Company's accounting scandals. Before the police arrive, Michael and George Michael flee on Gob's yacht, the C-Word, and depart to Cabo with half a million dollars in cashier's checks, finally leaving the family to fend for themselves. However, it is revealed in the epilogue that George Sr. is also on the yacht, having lured his brother Oscar into taking his place once again. Also in the epilogue, Maeby tries to sell the television rights to the story of the Bluth family to Ron Howard, who tells her that he sees it as a movie rather than a series.

In light of Fox's possible cancellation of the show, the first episode of 2006 parodied various gimmicks that other shows had used during November sweeps in 2005. Thinly-veiled allusions were made to the possibility of HBO or Showtime picking the show up in the event of its cancellation. The episode took shots at frequently cited reasons for the show's failure in the ratings, such as complex storylines that can be hard to follow, obscure references that may go over viewers' heads, and main characters who were not sympathetic or relatable.

Episodes

Season Episodes Season premiere Season finale
Season 1 22 November 2, 2003 June 6, 2004
Season 2 18 November 7, 2004 April 17, 2005
Season 3 13 September 19, 2005 February 10, 2006

Themes and other characteristics

The show focuses on the tension that developed among the members of the Bluth family, primarily from their diminished spending power. Each show pulls from a mix of sibling rivalries, unresolved oedipal conflicts, sexual incompatibilities, personal identity crises, adolescent trauma, aging, pride, miscommunication, lying, guilt, subterfuge, determination, immigration, manipulation, mutilation, social status anxiety, incest taboo, alcoholism, narcissism and a wide variety of other themes.

Much like other dysfunctional-family comedies such as Malcolm in the Middle and The Simpsons, the family unit is depicted as necessary for the survival of the individual. Much of the comedy comes from the quirks of the characters and the patterns that developed within the family structure.

Unique presentation

Arrested Development uses several elements that are rare for American live-action sitcoms. It was shot with hand-held cameras.[8] Like a documentary, it often cuts away abruptly from scenes in order to supplement the narrative with material such as security camera footage, Bluth family photos, website screenshots, and archive films. Flashbacks are also extensively used to show the Bluth family members in various stages of their lives. The show does not employ a laugh track, allowing for uninterrupted back-and-forth dialogue and permitting more time for plot development and jokes. An omniscient third-person narrator (producer Ron Howard) ties together the multiple plot threads running through each episode, and provides tongue-in-cheek commentary. For example, Gob Bluth responds to his brother in the episode "Altar Egos" by saying, "I had sex with her last night," to which the narrator comments, "But he really didn't." Gob then continues, "Yes I did." Wordplay is abundant for humor and plot; a character may misinterpret an ambiguous phrase with embarrassing or disastrous results. Before cutting to a commercial, the show flashes a white screen instead of the usual black screen.

Opening credits

With few exceptions, Arrested Development begins immediately with the title credits, rather than a cold open. Over a series of slides accompanied by the show's theme, photos introduce the characters, and Ron Howard provides a narrative summary of the show's premise: "Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It's Arrested Development." The credits reflect several of the unique elements of the show: documentary-style use of archive photos and footage, upbeat soundtrack, and presence of the narrator.

"On the next Arrested Development"

Almost every episode ends with an epilogue segment called "On the next Arrested Development," in which lingering stories are humorously wrapped up or extended. These segments portray events that do not usually appear in the subsequent episodes. However, on some rare occasions (typically in the first half of a two-part episode), scenes from these portions are worked into the following episode; also, the segment occasionally shows a significant plot twist (e.g. Maggie Lizer's deception,[9] Buster's accident,[10] Steve Holt's discovery[11]). The second episode of Season 3 reversed this by having "Previously on..." featuring the resolution of the cliffhanger and nearly an entire episode of plot changes within thirty seconds. The epilogue sometimes shows a several-second continuation of the previous scene, in comically direct opposition to the name of the sequence.

The first and second season finales changed the segment to "On the next season of Arrested Development..." and in the third season finale (which was also the series finale), it became "On the epilogue...".

Intertextuality and reflexivity

Scene referring to Burger King and product placement:
Tobias: "It's a wonderful restaurant!"
Narrator: "It sure is!"[12]

The show is highly intertextual (referring to other shows) and reflexive (self-referential). For example, Arrested Development often alludes to the past work of its cast and crew through the restaging of familiar scenarios, such as Fonzie's jumping the shark from Happy Days,[12] Tony Hale's bit part in a Volkswagen commercial,[13] and by casting former collaborators in small bit parts, including many cast members from Mr. Show as well as improv comics from Christopher Guest films. Guest stars frequently appear from other lauded television comedies such as The Daily Show, Seinfeld, Scrubs, The Office, Mr. Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Simpsons, and Saturday Night Live. The show's reflexiveness may be literal or subtle. In the episode "For British Eyes Only", Michael tells George Sr., who he believes is trying to convince him of a lie, "You're a regular Brad Garrett." This is in reference to the Emmy Awards that directly preceded the episode's original airing, where Garrett beat out Jeffrey Tambor (George Sr.) for the Best Supporting Actor award. The series has acknowledged its competition (Desperate Housewives), commercial sponsor (Burger King),[12] its struggle to go after an "idiot demographic",[14] its use of dramatic moments as act breaks, and Fox's cutback of the second season to 18 episodes. The episode "S.O.B.s" made numerous references to Arrested Development's attempts to remain on air by parodying typical television ratings ploys and hinted at the attempts of other networks to purchase the series from Fox. In another example, a picture of Charlize Theron's character Rita is shown prior to her plastic surgery; it is a picture of Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster. In addition, narrator Ron Howard has made several references to his experiences on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days.

Incest

Several of the major characters of the show are at some stage involved in a plot with incestuous themes.[15] Frequently, this theme is linked with questions about murky family lineage. For example, George Michael and Maeby spend most of the series struggling to contain a mutual attraction, despite the fact that they believe themselves to be cousins. There is also Maeby's interest in Steve Holt, who is also revealed to be her cousin. In the second season, the episode "Afternoon Delight" plays on this theme when Michael and Maeby (and later George Michael and Lindsay) sing the Starland Vocal Band song "Afternoon Delight", being unaware of its sexual nature. Oscar also (very blatantly) hints that he is Buster's real father, through his relationship with Lucille. When Buster first learns of the truth, he exclaims, "My father is my uncle!" This theme is also explored in the episode "Family Ties," through the character of Nellie Bluth, whom Michael thinks for a time might be his older sister, but who herself presumes Michael is interested in her for sex. The fact that Nellie Bluth is played by Jason Bateman's real life sister Justine Bateman (who also starred in the 1980s sitcom Family Ties) lends the plot line an additional layer of comic complication. In addition, Rita, Michael's mentally challenged girlfriend, has her limited mental capabilities attributed to her parents being cousins. In yet another example of this theme, upon discovering her adoption, Lindsay attempts to seduce her brother, Michael. Gob, out of brotherly competition, later attempts to seduce her. Another running joke throughout the series was Buster's Oedipal obsession with his mother. This strange relationship is highlighted in the episode "Motherboy XXX," where Buster says, "Whenever she'd change clothes, she'd make me wait on the balcony until zip-up—and yet anything goes at bath-time." Buster's mixed feelings about his mother are also shown through his relationship with his girlfriend and mother's nemesis Lucille Austero, played by Liza Minnelli, known as "Lucille 2."

Topicality

Arrested Development plays with divisive, controversial social and political issues. Writers have turned references to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal,[12] the U.S. Army's recruiting crisis, inadequate supplies for US troops, the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo-op into jokes.[16][17] George Sr. has been a parody of Osama Bin Laden[16] and appeared with Saddam Hussein, as well as a parody of Hussein himself when he has his teeth inspected after being found in a hole in the ground. There are also occasional references made to the USA PATRIOT Act, namely as a catchall excuse for the prosecutors against the Bluths to act in underhanded and illegal ways. It has also poked fun at the decadence of American white collar criminals, "limousine liberals", religious protest campaigns, the Terri Schiavo case, controversy over public display of the Ten Commandments, and the restriction of protesters to "free speech zones". Other references include "Girls with Low Self-Esteem" (a parody of Girls Gone Wild), "Boyfights" (a parody of Bumfights), Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11,[14][18] and low-carb diets.

Continuity

The plot regularly features callbacks to previous episodes, such as Gob's recurring use of the phrase "Come on!," the family's, as well as some secondary cast members', use of "I've made a huge mistake" or a pleasantly surprised "That was a freebie," a disgustedly uttered "typical" whenever Michael is gone or missing, repeated use of family members' "chicken dances" that do not resemble chickens and the infomercial for George Sr.'s infamous invention, The Cornballer. It will often use what creator Mitch Hurwitz has termed "call-forwards," wherein plots or events will be foreshadowed in subtle ways. For example, many references are made to the loss of limbs, foreshadowing the loss of Buster's hand in the second season. The first season episode "Pier Pressure" has several flashbacks to George Sr. hiring J. Walter Weatherman, a man with a prosthetic arm, to teach his children "lessons" by staging elaborate scenes in which the man's arm is pulled or cut off as a result of the children's misbehavior. Before losing his hand, Buster retrieves his hand-shaped chair, which his mother had given to her maid Lupe. He then says, "I never thought I could miss a hand so much." Also, in the episode where he is supposed to leave for the Army, he uses the claw arm to retrieve a stuffed seal that says "Good Luck." In the episode where Buster loses his hand, right before he runs into the water, he is sitting on a bench advertising for the army office, positioned in such a way as to only show "ARM OFF." Furthermore, at the very outset of Season 2, the Fox newscaster makes a passing reference to a story about a seal attack "coming right up". In Season 3, they allude to Rita being mentally retarded in many subtle ways, including her name, which is pronounced exactly like the first four letters of the word "retarded", and a scene in "Forget-Me-Now", when after having been left unconscious on a bus bench by Gob and Lindsay, a still-groggy Rita is seen sitting up, partially obscuring an advertisement for "Wee Britain", the (fictional) English-themed section of Orange County, such that it now reads "Wee Brain".

Music

Original music

Besides the ukulele-based theme song composed by David Schwartz, which is also used as Lindsay's cell phone ringtone, a number of other songs are featured prominently in Arrested Development. In the second and third seasons of the show, Gob's duet with his puppet Franklin, titled "It Ain't Easy Being White", is a repeated joke. The duet parodies Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney's "Ebony and Ivory".

"Free at Last", written by David Schwartz and Gabriel Mann, and performed by Mann and Maxayn Lewis, is used in conjunction with parties, protests, or other events involving gay men, transvestites, or male strippers. A recurring male crossdresser holds a "Freedom" sign of various sizes under this music. An original song called "Big Yellow Joint", apparently written about the Bluth Banana Stand, sounds almost identical to Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" and is often used in scenes with aged hippie Oscar Bluth or his stash of marijuana.

Short clips of music are also used to highlight recurring comedic themes in the series. For example, during George Sr.'s stints with religion, or other religious experiences, whether real or feigned, a duduk moans in the background. Eerie, foreboding music is played to foreshadow disasters such as the loss of Buster's hand and the collapse of the floor of the model house in Season 2. Mentions of Mexico get a Spanish guitar riff, and displays of Balboa Bay Window magazine are accompanied by upbeat elevator music. The same dramatic soap opera style music can always be heard (and abruptly cut off) whenever Oscar makes a hint about being Buster's father. For Season 3's recurring motif of an alleged British conspiracy against the Bluth family, music parodying that of the James Bond spy films ("For British Eyes Only") is played at each mention of the British.

Other music

George Michael, George Sr., Tobias, and Gob in "Good Grief" walking to "Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental)" Notice the beagle sleeping on top of the dog house.

Nikka Costa's "Everybody Got Their Something" was used for energetic segues in the pilot, before being supplanted by Schwartz and Mann's stylistically similar "I Get Up" in later episodes.[19] Also, "Gonna Get Together" by Leroy was used at the end of the pilot. The series second episode features Bachman–Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" while Michael and George Michael watch the family's banana stand burn down.[20] Gob uses Europe's 1986 hit single "The Final Countdown" in his magic acts, attempting to increase the audience's excitement through improvised dancing and rapid-fire magic tricks. "The Final Countdown" is also Gob's ringtone. "Cry Love" by John Hiatt is playing in the fourth episode while Gob is playing catch with his father (in prison) and then is stabbed, and also as Michael's feelings for Marta increase. Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" can also be heard sung by Gob on his CD he recorded for Michael. "Christmas Time Is Here", Vince Guaraldi's piano theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas, plays in one episode several times when a male character is depressed; various Arrested Development characters repeatedly recreate Charlie Brown's dejected walk from the television special.

"Gonna Get Together", by Leroy, is used during awkward, sexually suggestive situations involving George Michael and his cousin, Maeby, or his girlfriend, Ann. The song "Rose's Turn" from the musical Gypsy is used a couple of times throughout the series; when a character decides to 'let loose' around the house, playing when Lucille relaxes into living without Buster in season 1 and when Buster is left home alone when Lucille is in rehab in season 2. The song "Ain't No Big Thing" is played when introducing the frontispiece in the season-one episode "In God We Trust" to underscore the small size of the prosthetic penis to be worn by George Michael in the living portrayal of The Creation of Adam. Ashford and Simpson's "Solid" is used by Gob as theme music for his 'Bluth Homes: Solid as a Rock' campaign. The Starland Vocal Band song "Afternoon Delight" acted as a plot point in the second-season episode of the same name. Whenever Gob introduces his black puppet "Franklin", funk music is played, featuring a slap bass technique.

Response

Lawsuit over title

In November 2003, the producers of the show were sued by the hip hop group Arrested Development over the use of the name.[21] Rapper "Speech" from the group said in an interview that the band was offered a settlement of $10,000 for trademark infringement and stated that even the Fox presenter of the TV series was confused, asking if it was a "concert by the band?" when announcing the new TV series.[22] The incident was referenced humorously in an episode of the show: In episode "Motherboy XXX", the narration refers to a band called "Motherboy", which the narration claims the show is "legally required to make a distinction" from, with respect to the "Motherboy" event happening in the episode.

Television ratings

The show, while critically acclaimed, did not gain a sizable audience.[1] According to the Nielsen ratings system, U.S. ratings in the second season averaged about six million viewers, while the third season averaged about four million viewers.[23] To promote their re-broadcast of the animated series Family Guy, Fox announced that it would halt the production of the second season at eighteen episodes—four episodes short of the planned season. Despite rumors that this was a prelude to cancellation, the network defended its actions, claiming that the show would fare poorly during network sweeps period, and that it was simply a procedural matter. The show's writers did, however, parody this in the episode "Sword of Destiny", which aired in March 2005. In the beginning of the episode, Michael complains that the Bluth Company's order to design and build 22 homes has been cut down to 18 homes. Later in the episode, Fox is parodied when a website is swamped with popup ads about Family Guy.

For the third season, Fox positioned the show at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and 7:00 p.m. CT/MT, directly opposite Monday Night Football in the Mountain and Pacific time zones, whereas MNF would not have started yet in the other two. Ratings were even worse than previous seasons. On November 9, 2005, Fox announced that the show would not be airing in November sweeps, and that they had cut the episode order for the third season from 22 to 13. Fox ended up showing the last four episodes in a two-hour timeslot—directly opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics. The finale received 3.3 million viewers.

Critical reception

Since its debut and throughout its run, the series has received overwhelmingly positive reviews.[1] It is widely regarded as one of the defining comedies of the 2000s and praised by many critics as one of the greatest comedies of all time.[24][25] In 2007, the show was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME."[2]

Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly said: "Is it beating a dead horse to once again state that this underappreciated gem is the best sitcom on TV? Too bad. Arrested Development is the best sitcom on TV!"[26]

David Bianculli from the New York Daily News stated: "If you're not watching this series on Fox, the least you can do is buy it on DVD. You'll love it, and it's such a dense show (in the best sense of the word) that it rewards repeated viewing. Like Scrubs and the British version of The Office, it's the sort of show that truly deserves to be seen uninterrupted, several episodes at a time, for maximum enjoyment. The laughs-per-minute quotient here is insanely high, making it great value as a home library purchase."[27]

Alison Powell of The Guardian said: "As Hollywood agents worry about the demise of the town's lowing cash cow, the multi-camera, staged sitcom, here to save the day is Arrested Development, a farce of such blazing wit and originality, that it must surely usher in a new era in comedy."[28]

Gillian Flynn of Entertainment Weekly named Arrested Development the best TV show of 2005 and stated: "As oddball as Arrested is, it's also humane. A flawless cast—from Will Arnett's breathy, bombastic Gob to Jessica Walter's boozy Lucille—grounds it, aided by Ron Howard's affable narration. Of course, the center of sensibility is good son Michael (Jason Bateman) and his even better son, George Michael (Michael Cera). Bateman and Cera give the best reacts around—the former all weary exasperation, the latter adorably bunny-stunned. Together, they're the sweetest, awkwardest straight men on the smartest, most shockingly funny series on TV...which is likely canceled, despite six Emmy wins. It's a perversion not even the Bluths deserve."

Awards and nominations

In 2004, the first season received seven Emmy Award nominations with five wins. It won for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, for the "Pilot" episode written by Mitchell Hurwitz and directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo. Jeffrey Tambor was nominated that year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

In 2005, the second season received eleven Emmy nominations in seven categories with one win. Notable nominations included Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Jason Bateman), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Jeffrey Tambor), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Jessica Walter) as well as three nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, in which it won for "Righteous Brothers", written by Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely.

In 2006, the third season received four Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Will Arnett), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the series finale "Development Arrested."[29]

Other awards include:

  • The 2004 TV Land Award for "Future Classic", the first recognition the series received. The award presentation is included on the Season One DVD release.
  • The 2004 Television Critics Association Awards for Outstanding Comedy and Outstanding New Program, and the 2005 award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy.
  • The 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for Jason Bateman.
  • The 2004 Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Comedy, for the episode "Pier Pressure", written by Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely.
  • The 2004 Satellite Award for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical, along with Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter for Best Performance by an Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series – Comedy or Musical. In 2005, Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi won for Best Actor and Actress in a Series – Comedy or Musical. Jason Bateman also won the same award in 2006.
  • The 2005 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) – Supporting Young Actress for Alia Shawkat.

Post-cancellation

"Arrested Development never felt safe. Even the first season, we did thirteen episodes, and we thought we'd never do a back nine. So I never thought in a million years we'd get to make three seasons...I don't think we made a bad episode."

Michael Cera, Esquire magazine (2009)[30]

Despite months-long rumors of Arrested Development having been picked up by the cable television network Showtime,[31] the San Francisco Chronicle reported on March 28, 2006 that creator Mitch Hurwitz would not be returning and declined to bring the series to the network.[32] Showtime had made it clear that Hurwitz's involvement was a requirement for the continuation of the show. As Hurwitz explained, "I had taken it as far as I felt I could as a series. I told the story I wanted to tell, and we were getting to a point where I think a lot of the actors were ready to move on."[33] He said that he was "more worried about letting down the fans in terms of the quality of the show dropping" than he was about disappointing fans by not giving them more episodes. In this same interview, he said, "If there's a way to continue this in a form that's not weekly episodic series television, I'd be up for it."

Broadcast history

The first season of Arrested Development premiered in the U.S. on November 2, 2003, on Fox. The time slot was repeatedly changed in attempts to increase its ratings. Three seasons, totaling 53 episodes, were produced. The final 4 episodes of season 3 of Arrested Development were shown back-to-back in a special two hour block on February 10, 2006 from 8–10pm ET/PT on Fox, opposite the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on NBC.

DVD releases

Season Release dates Episodes Bonus features
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 October 19, 2004 March 21, 2005 February 23, 2005 22 The unaired, full length pilot episode; commentary by creator Mitchell Hurwitz and cast members on three episodes; deleted and extended scenes; "Breaking Ground: Behind the Scenes of Arrested Development" featurette; The Museum of Television & Radio: Q&A with Creator Mitchell Hurwitz and the cast of Arrested Development; TV Land - "Arrested Development: The Making of a Future Classic"; TV Land Awards — The Future Classic Award; Ron Howard Sneak Peek at Season 2; Arrested Development Promo "Blind"; Easter Egg — Tobias Outtake.[34]
2 October 11, 2005 January 23, 2006 March 15, 2006 18 Commentary by creator Mitchell Hurwitz and cast members on three episodes; deleted and extended scenes; Season One in 3 Minutes overview; blooper reel; "The Immaculate Election" Campaign Videos.[35]
3 August 29, 2006 April 23, 2007 December 6, 2006 13 Commentary by creator Mitchell Hurwitz and cast members on three episodes; deleted and extended scenes; blooper reel; "The Last Day on Location" featurette.[36]

Series continuation

Film

2008–2009 developments

Rumors of a possible full-length Arrested Development film circulated after the possibility was referenced in the show's final episode.[37] Arrested Development: The Movie is currently awaiting production, with the script to be written by Hurwitz;[38][39][40] Ron Howard is slated to direct.[40][41] Reportedly, all original members of the main cast are expected to reprise their roles.[42]

On February 1, 2008, Jason Bateman confirmed that series creator Mitchell Hurwitz and executive producer/narrator Ron Howard had "put the wheels in motion toward a major motion picture."[43] In April of that year, Jeffrey Tambor and Bateman confirmed their interest and it was reported that "everyone seems to be very much on board and excited" about the film's prospects.[38] In July 2009, Bateman said "We're gonna make the movie. Mitch Hurwitz is just starting to write it. It'll be out in a year and a half."[44]

In September 2009, Bateman updated IGN on the film. He said: "We hope that there is enough people out there who would want to see it that [Fox] Searchlight could get its money back from financing it. [Hurwitz] is half-way through writing the script now, and once he's done and if he's happy with it, we'll start to schedule it and then shoot it. And then be done...it will be a small film. It will be simple. We'll shoot it in probably six weeks. It will get a little release. It will be in and out, done...No one is going to overreach with this film at all...It is not being done at big Fox, it is being done at Fox Searchlight. It's going to be a small effort."[45]

However, Alia Shawkat told the Los Angeles Times in April 2009 that, while prepared to reprise her role as Maeby, she was "waiting along with everyone else" for the film to begin production, stating: "I'll believe it when I get the call sheet for the first day."[46] Similarly, in an interview published in September 2009 by The A.V. Club, David Cross stated that he hadn't had news of progress of the film in "months, really." The interviewer asked him if a script was ready, and Cross stated, "Not that I know of. I know a script was due. But those guys are notorious for being late. So I dunno, I haven’t heard anything. Everybody wants to do it."[47]

2010–present developments

Jason Bateman and Jessica Walter at the Arrested Development 2011 Reunion.

In January 2010, Will Arnett confirmed that, although no script had yet been completed, filming would begin in 2010; however, he confirmed no release date.[48] In April 2010, David Cross expressed doubt that the movie would happen since so much time had passed since the series ended.[49] As a response, on April 16, 2010, Jason Bateman stated in an interview that creator Mitchell Hurwitz was working on a new TV pilot with Will Arnett but would be continuing to work on the movie script.[50]

On July 16, 2010, Mitchell Hurwitz confirmed that development of the script has started.[51] When asked about the possibility of a movie during an August 10, 2010 interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jason Bateman replied "last week Mitch Hurwitz, the genius behind it, said he had half the script written which was news to me. So that's good news, that puts us on par to maybe shoot it next year, I hope."[52] Bateman has also suggested Jennifer Aniston would be a good person to play a role in the movie.[53] In November 2010, David Cross said he knew the story of the Arrested Development film and it was 'great'. He said, however, that there was no script done yet.[54] In November 2010, Will Arnett remarked that, having completed filming the first season of Running Wilde, he expects the movie will be coming "sooner rather than later now," and that its current intended direction is "super hilarious."[55]

In January 2011, Ron Howard responded to listeners' questions on the film while appearing on BBC Radio 5's Kermode and Mayo's Film Review. Howard said that "Arrested Development [the film] is something that the cast is very keen on... Mitch Hurwitz has been slowly developing the story". Howard added that "I'm a little bit like all the rest of the fans, I'll believe it when I'll see it" but that "I actually do think that it'll come to pass".[56]

In February 2011, Mitch Hurwitz stated during an interview with Digital Spy that "it is our sincere hope to shoot it and get it out this year," before adding that "a lot of things need to fall into place for that to happen".[57]

In an April 13, 2011 interview, Jeffrey Tambor stated, "Here's what I know and it’s the truth, rather than any hype, and I'm pleased to say it. The script is being written even as we speak, and it may even be completed. I think all systems are go, and I think it's very possible that you and I could be talking about the making of this film or even it being made by this time next year. It's all going forward and we have a better opening now, it's the perfect opening."[58] On the July 11, 2011 episode of WTF with Marc Maron, Arnett again confirmed that the Arrested Development movie was still in the writing stages, with Hurwitz planning something really "unexpected". He continued: "If all goes well, I think it's going to be something that's going to be really satisfying for people who're fans of the show; they just want to see the characters kind of back and interacting, and he's kind of come up with a cool way to do that."[59] Jason Bateman appeared on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! on August 6, 2011 and stated that "If you're speaking of the Arrested Development movie, that seems to be moving along quite nicely."[60]

Revival of television series

The entire cast reunited for a panel at The New Yorker Festival in New York on October 2, 2011.[61] At the panel, Hurwitz announced his intention of doing a truncated fourth season as a lead-in to the film, which would consist of 9–10 episodes each focusing on a single character.[4] At the event Hurwitz explained that Fox had not committed to producing any new episodes but would be involved in negotiations, as they continue to hold certain rights to the series. It was later been reported that Showtime, as well as online streaming services Hulu and Netflix have expressed interest in producing the show.[62][63] In November 2011, Netflix was confirmed as the distributor of new episodes for an early 2013 debut. It is unclear whether this will be a truncated season as Hurwitz initially announced at the festival.[5]

References

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  2. ^ a b Poniewozik, James (September 6, 2007). "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time (Time.com). http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1651341_1659188_1652056,00.html. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
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