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Commentary: ‘Arrested Development’ to return quality to TV

Courtesy of MCT

In just three seasons, “Arrested Development” changed everything I knew about TV comedies by making me realize just how funny a TV show can be. It restored my faith in the state of television quality, that maybe there can be a place for high-level comedy amid all the lowest-common-denominator malarkey dominating the programming blocks. Seven years after being taken off the air due to low viewership, the show’s cult status generated enough interest that the entire cast reassembled to film a fourth and final season. There are even rumors of a film adaptation, and I couldn’t be happier.

The series, which revolved around the nine members of the newly bankrupt Bluth family and originally aired on Fox from 2003-2006, has a comedy style that lends itself to many repeated viewings and episode after episode binge-watching. In wise response to this fact, the new season is planned to be released all at once, exclusively on Netflix sometime in May. 

In just one month, after all these years, I finally get to find out if George Michael is still interested in Ann, or if Gob – pronounced like the name “Job” – ever gets accepted back into the Magician’s Alliance, or if Tobias ever comes to terms with his sexuality, even though everyone else in the family already has. 

And the unique format of the new season’s release is the perfect medium for it.

Netflix viewing is the format “Arrested Development” was truly made for. The one-episode-a-week release structure of the average television show just doesn’t do justice to the complex, easily missed humor of “Arrested Development,” clearly displayed by the relative success the show finds on DVD compared to its floundering TV ratings. Its quickly paced, discreet humor can whiz over the heads of many first-time watchers. But, after seeing an episode two or three times, you realize how intricate and expertly woven the characters’ storylines are, and layers of humor begin to stack up as you notice more and more of the countless subtleties hidden in every scene. 

For the three years that the show ran, its unconventional style struggled to attract the audience that shows like “Scrubs” could with softball humor and easy-to-follow plot formulas. And so, as all good things tend to, it died young. And according to creator and comedic genius Mitchell Hurwitz, the world will see no more of the Bluth family following this batch of new content. 

Many see this as a shame, a cold reminder of the intolerance for thought provocation in popular culture. But to me, it just adds to the show’s magic. In just 53 episodes, this show has supplied me with more laughs than all nine seasons and 180-plus episodes of “Scrubs” put together. There is just so much amazing content condensed into them that I never felt cheated by its brief running time. In fact, the only complaint I’ve ever felt about the show was its anticlimactic end, as it was forced to wrap up after a mid-season discontinuation notice from Fox.

And so the approaching final season, and possible big-screen adaptation, should be a perfect bookend to this incredible franchise. Instead of ending on the disheartening note of commercial rejection, “Arrested Development” is getting the rare opportunity to resurrect and go out in light of the critical recognition it deserves. On its release date next month, yet to be exactly determined, rest assured that I’ll be holed up in a room somewhere, laughing my ass off all day and feeling renewed faith in humanity, which should last until I see another commercial for Jerry Springer’s “Baggage.” 

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