It’s easy to forget just how good television has been over the last twenty years. Shows like The Simpsons, The Sopranos and South Park have shaped the cultural landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries; capturing audiences imaginations with a blend of iconic characters, poignant social commentary and a flair for the original. This spring, however will witness the return to the Silver Screen of a comedy that typifies these qualities better than any other show that has come before or since its conception. The only problem is hardly anyone has seen it!
Axed in 2006 due to poor ratings, ‘Arrested Development’ never quite managed to garner the large audience it so deserved. Deemed by some to be too smart for the American prime-time network audience, the lightning-fast wit and plethora of running gags seemed to alienate rather than engage the public. However, it is this very need to‘work for the humour’ that makes ‘Arrested Development’ such an inspired work of genius. On the surface, the quality of the acting and writing is plain for all to see but it is the sheer depth and diversity of hilarity that one can only come to appreciate after multiple viewings that gives ‘Arrested Development’ its enduring charm.
The story centres around Michael Bluth, expertly portrayed by Jason Bateman who is handed the unenviable task of keeping the family housing business afloat after his father, George Sr., (Jeffrey Tambor) is found guilty of using it as his own personal piggy bank. It sounds simple enough but this is a television series that has ostensibly achieved the impossible by drawing on complex issues ranging from incest to the Iraq War and seamlessly melding them together with the most absurd characters. Take Tobias, for example; the sexually confused psychiatrist-cum-actor who permanently wears cut-off denim jeans due to a psychological affliction that renders him unable to be naked, or Gob (acronym of George Oscar Bluth, pronounced ‘Joeb’); the talentless magician who occasionally shoots pennies out of a gun attached to his wrist for dramatic effect while Europe’s ‘Final Countdown’ blasts in the background.
Sounds too weird to work doesn’t it? Oh, how wrong you are. People who persevere with the show will be rewarded to the point where simply uttering the words ‘bees’ or ‘egg’ to a fellow fan of the show will result in a laughing fit of epic proportions. How many shows can claim to be capable of that? Not many, I suspect. And there’s more magic to come. After three series, fifty-three episodes, and a seven-year hiatus, this ground-breaking series is returning for a fourth season and it promises to be as good as ever. So, if you like laughing and are willing to try something a bit different; go and watch the first three series before the new one comes out on Netflix early next year. I promise you won’t regret it.