Best of the Small Screen, Comedies No. 4

Over the next 14 weeks I'll be taking a look at some of my favorite TV series, broken down into three groups (Limited Run Series, Comedies, and Dramas). In my post on March 1 I laid out the ground rules for these categories and this exploration, the biggest of which is no series that are currently airing. To read the whole thing, check out the post "Best of the Small Screen" from March 1.

Today I continue the countdown with a classic from FOX

Arrested Development (2003-2006)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 3/53
Network: FOX
Starring: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Portia De Rossi, Michael Cera, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Jessica Walter, and Ron Howard
Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season 2, 1.03, "Bringing Up Buster," 2.04, "Good Grief," 2.06, "Afternoon Delight," 2.18, "Righteous Brothers," 3.09 "S.O.B.'s"
About: I'll be honest right up front, when including this series and talking about it, I'm ignoring the Netflix revival. Season four, while a treat for fans, was uneven and not entirely like the original show. Maybe season five, announced last week, will be better. But for now, I think of "Arrested Development" as the lowly rated show that mustered three seasons on FOX. And I will always treasure those 53 episodes. This is a weird, and weirdly engaging show. It's highly serialized, and features a style of comedy that's not for everyone. That's probably why it didn't get incredible ratings. But it did produce a hard core legion of fans, and that shows the impact and success the series has had. It's got a great and deep cast, and they generally seem to enjoy making the show. And it had so many funny gags, from Howard's narration to recurring jokes. I, for one, love Charlie Brown, so I loved the recurring theme that begins in Episode 2.04, playing the Charlie Brown music when things don't go right for characters. Another great gag was the Cornball fryer, which appears first in episode 1.03, also on the list. "Arrested Development" was also great at making things really inappropriate or awkward (Tobias' business card announcing him as an "Analrapist" is a classic), and that was pretty much the gist of Episode 2.06, which saw several family pairings singing the inappropriate song, Afternoon Delight. Another hallmark of the show was its self-references, such as the ones in "S.O.B.'s" that mirrored the show's struggle to find life beyond the shortened season three. But my favorite sub-plot was the relationship between George Michael (Cera) and Maeby (Shawkat), which hits a high for me in "Righteous Brothers," the season finale of season two, perhaps the strongest season. If you've never seen "Arrested Development," it's worth giving it a try. Just be prepared to be surprised.


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