Monday, February 2, 2009

Arrested Development

So while looking at Juno on IMDB I noticed that the adoptive father and the nerdy boyfriend were both in the sit-com "Arrested Development". I checked out and found they have three seasons of it. Hey, it lasted 3 seasons at least, so I figure it might have some merit to it. I watched the whole first season and I'll give it a good grade.

It started out with a few strikes against in in my book. I guess I'm not a fan of the sit-com genera. The general formula is so damn played out. This one is very typical in a lot of respects. The name of the genera says it all... situation comedy. They make some contrived situation, introduce you to the several peronalities, and then each week show how each personality will react to the situation. Basically I see right through the character and see an actor playing that character. I can almost hear them saying "How would Lindsay react in this situation?"... "What would George say now?"

Strike two is that I came to the realization a few years ago that too much comedy is based on stupidity. What would a stupid person do now? How would a stupid person react to this? It's been done to death in "Black Adder", "Faulty Towers", "Three's Company", and a bazillion others. While it could still be funny, I think it's just lazy. Instead of thinking of something really clever, you just have to think of something stupid instead... and pretend you're being funny.

And finally, if the characters are so unrealistic that I just can't relate, then I loose any interest in them. Who cares what predicament they get themselves in... it's all just completely fake anyway. No, I need to be convinced that this situation is, on some level, at least possible before I can get attached.

This show has all that going against it, yet they still manage to pull it off. Each episode has well scripted plot with twist, turns, and irony. They do all sorts of call backs... punch lines to earlier situations are used again in completely different situations. Different characters keep using the phrase "I made a terrible mistake" in very different situations. Lots of situations where a character will say something completely inocuous, but it comes back as a central them later on. Also, each episode ends with "Next time on Arrested Developement..." and they show one or two short clips as if they were from the following show, but they never are... they're just sort of punch lines that were set up during the current show.

They have a great cast, too. You keep seeing people popping up that you know from various comedy venues... like Amy Poler (SNL, Upright Citizen's Brigade), Kevin McDonald (Kids in the Hall), Tony Hale (Mr. Show, Upright Citizen's Brigade), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld) and lots of others. The only other disapointing thing was that they son played almost the same character as he does in Juno... soft spoken, nerdy, un-confident kid. Makes me wonder if he can act.

All in all, I would say give this show a try.

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