TV Roundup: Arrested Development, #14
Can I say something here? Why did I call this the TV Roundup? Am I wrong, or does it suddenly sound like I'm a 1960's newsreel? Are there marionettes? Good lord. Thank goodness I'm not in marketing -- oh, crud. Anyway, let's proceed.
The exercise here is to not just list, but examine (often in mind-numbing, painstakingly banal ways - keep reading) each of these 21 shows, and why they're so darn great.
The list thus far:
21. Kids In The Hall
19. How I Met Your Mother
17. The Simpsons
16. The Daily Show
15. Mad Men
Not a bad list, huh? Well, we're just getting started. And the next show is one that apparently you may not have heard about. Even though virtually everyone I know seems to not only know this show, but love it ... ratings would suggest that almost nobody watched it.
Arrested Development? I hope so, because it's absolutely great.
It's the story of the Bluth family. The patriarch, George Bluth, Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) has run what turns out to be a fraudulent, barely competent family business, and is arrested (get it?) in the pilot episode. His son Michael (Jason Bateman) has to step in to keep the company afloat, mostly to help keep his utterly dysfunctional family from completely collapsing.
Michael: I really think the reason you and I always fight is that, since we were little, Dad's always played us off each other.
Gob: Dad always said that was your fault.
That family is brilliantly played by all. Michael's son - named George Michael - is played by Michael Cera, where he acts exactly like Michael Cera does in everything he's ever been in. Which is to say he's hilarious, awkward and extremely Michael Cera-esque. George Michael is, among other things, horrified by his crush on his cousin Maeby Funke (Alia Shakwat). Maeby is the daughter of Michael's sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and her out-of-work psychiatrist husband Tobias Funke (David Cross).
Lindsay: Michael, if this is a lecture on how we're all supposed to whatever and blah-blah-blah, well, you can save it, because we all know it by heart.
But my favorite brother - and really, my favorite character on this show, is Michael's older brother George Oscar Bluth II (Will Arnett) -- known by his initials GOB. (And pronounced like the biblical character Job.) Gob is a magician who performs "illusions, not tricks!" (though he's been blacklisted), rides around on a Segway and sleeps around with a vengeance. (He also has - in far too few episodes - a marionette buddy named Franklin, and it's just so weird and horrible and hilarious that I implore you to seek them out and watch them. Hell, watch the whole series.)
Sorry, I just needed a little GOB there.
Or Henry Winkler.
Or Scott Baio (as Bob Loblaw - say it out loud), and the countless other name actors who made regular, hilarious appearances.
I cannot stress this next part enough - I even enjoyed Liza Minelli on this show. That says a lot about Arrested Development.
Michael Bluth: [calling from prison, taking about his brother, Gob] I've got a nice hard cot with his name on it.
Lucille: You would do that to your brother?
Michael Bluth: [pause] I said "cot".
This show really launched Michael Cera's career, and certainly revitalized Bateman's (many forget that he starred alongside Ricky - yes, Ricky - Schroeder in Silver Spoons). Bateman is the rock of the show, the moral fiber of the family (even if he does have his own shortcomings) and the straight man of the show. He's both the most socially competent and utterly clueless, getting played by his family time and time again.
Tobias Fünke: [footage of Tobias trying on a Speedo with his cut-offs on] Excuse me, do these effectively hide my thunder?
The show has many different storylines, and manages to throw in some good political satire at times, and lasted for a far too short three seasons. A movie is reportedly in the works, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Do I own this on DVD? Actually, I do - grabbed it when the three-season collection went on sale for $29.00. It depresses me that the demand for this is so low that the sale price can be this low, but screw it, now I own it.
Before I forget, STEVE HOLT!