Arrested Development (TV series)

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Arrested Development

Arrested Development intertitle
Format Sitcom
Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
Starring Jason Bateman
Portia de Rossi
Will Arnett
Michael Cera
Alia Shawkat
Tony Hale
David Cross
Jeffrey Tambor
Jessica Walter
Narrated by Ron Howard
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 53 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Brian Grazer
Ron Howard
Mitchell Hurwitz
David Nevins
Camera setup Multi camera
Running time approx. 22 min.
Original channel FOX
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
720p (HDTV)
Original run November 2, 2003 – February 10, 2006

Arrested Development is an American television sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The show is centered around the Bluths, a formerly wealthy, habitually dysfunctional family and is presented in a pseudo-documentary format, incorporating hand-held camera work, narration, archival photos, and historical footage. Ron Howard is an executive producer and the uncredited narrator. Although set in Newport Beach and Balboa Island, California, Arrested Development was primarily filmed around Culver City and Marina del Rey. Three seasons of the show were produced and aired between 2003 and 2006.

Since debuting on November 2, 2003, the series received six Emmy awards, one Golden Globe, critical acclaim, a cult fan base, several fan-based websites, and a spot on Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Shows of All Time.[1][2] Despite the approval from critics, Arrested Development never climbed in the ratings. Fox aired the final four episodes of the third season in a block as a two-hour series finale on February 10, 2006, opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

An Arrested Development motion picture is currently in the works.[3] The film is slated to begin production in late 2009, with a potential 2010 release date.[4] All of the series' original main cast members are expected to reprise their roles for the film.[4]


[edit] Development

Discussion which led to the creation of the series began in the summer of 2002. Ron Howard had the original idea to create a comedy in the style of hand-held cameras and reality television, but with an elaborate, highly-comical script resulting from repeated rewritings and rehearsals.[5] Howard met with David Nevins, the President of Imagine Television, Katie O’Connell, a senior Vice President, and two writers, including Mitchell Hurwitz. In light of recent corporate accounting scandals, such as Enron and Adelphia, Hurwitz suggested a story about a "riches to rags" family. Howard and Imagine were immediately interested in using this idea, and signed Hurwitz on to write the show. The idea was pitched and sold in Fall 2002. Over the next few months, Hurwitz developed the characters and plot to the series. The pilot script was submitted in January 2003, and filmed in March 2003. It was submitted in late April, and added to the Fall Fox schedule in May.[5]

[edit] Characters

The plot of Arrested Development revolves around the members of the Bluth family, who generally lead excessive lifestyles. At the center of the show is the relatively honorable Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), who strives to do the right thing and keep his family together, despite their materialism, selfishness, and manipulative natures. His teenage son, George Michael (Michael Cera), has the same qualities of decency, but feels a constant pressure to live up to his father's expectations, and is reluctantly willing to follow his father's plans, which do not always agree with his.

Michael's father George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) is the patriarch of the family. At times dictatorial, George Sr. goes to considerable lengths to manipulate and control his family. His wife, and Michael's mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), is equally manipulative, materialistic, and hypercritical of every member of her family, not to mention being a perpetual drunk. In particular, she has a tight grip on her youngest son Byron "Buster" Bluth (Tony Hale), who, as a result of his mother's dominance and sheltering, is unstable, socially inept, and prone to panic attacks.

Michael's older brother is Gob, played by Will Arnett. His name is an acronym for George Oscar Bluth II, and although pronounced Jōb, as in the Biblical figure, it is frequently mispronounced as Gŏb by various characters in the show. Gob is an unsuccessful professional magician whose business and personal schemes usually fail. He uses a Segway for transportation, and sometimes converses with others from it while stationary, as if it were a pulpit. Gob is used by his father to undermine Michael's control of the family business. Michael's twin sister Lindsay Fünke (Portia de Rossi) is flamboyant and materialistic, continually desiring to be the center of attention and attracted to various social causes, usually for a week or so. She enjoys being objectified, but also protests it. She is married to Tobias Fünke (David Cross), a discredited psychiatrist, aspiring actor, and "never-nude", whose language and behavior have heavily homosexual overtones to which he seems totally oblivious and which are the center of much tongue-in-cheek comedy throughout the series. Their attention-starved but sweet daughter Mae "Maeby" Fünke (Alia Shawkat) is the polar opposite of her cousin George Michael—skipping school, cheating on homework, and stealing money from the family's frozen banana stand business (which also happens to be managed by George Michael). The ever-rebellious teen, Maeby's chief motivation is going against her parents' wishes.

Several other characters regularly appear in minor roles. George Sr.'s identical twin brother Oscar (Jeffrey Tambor) is a lethargic ex-hippie seeking the affection of George's wife Lucille. The family's lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler) is an incompetent sexual deviant, who often hinders the family's legal battles rather than helping them. He is eventually replaced by Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio). Lucille Austero, or "Lucille 2", played by Liza Minnelli, is Lucille's "best friend and chief social rival" as well as a sometimes-love interest of Buster, and later, Gob. Carl Weathers plays a parodic version of himself as an unemployed, excessively thrifty, stew-loving actor. Beginning in the second season, Mae Whitman portrays Ann Veal, George Michael's sternly Christian girlfriend, who is often forgotten or disparaged by Michael. Ann had been played by Alessandra Toreson in the character's first appearance in Season 1 in the episode "Let 'Em Eat Cake". J. Walter Weatherman (Steve Ryan), a one armed amputee, is an old employee of George Senior. Weatherman appears in flashbacks from many episodes where, as hired by George Sr, he would lose his prosthetic arm in attempts to scare Michael, Gob, Lindsay, and Buster and teach them such lessons as "Always leave a note", "Don't yell" or "Don't leave the door open with the air conditioning on". A British mentally retarded female (Mr F) known only as Rita, Charlize Theron, makes appearances in five episodes in the third season playing Michael's female companion. Michael was completely unaware of her mental condition until just before their wedding was supposed to begin.

[edit] Casting

The most difficult part for casting the series involved finding people who would be believable as a family. Alia Shawkat was the first person cast. Michael Cera, Tony Hale, and Jessica Walter were cast from video tapes and flown in to audition for FOX. Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi both read and auditioned for the network, and were immediately chosen. The character of Gob was the most challenging to cast. When Will Arnett auditioned, he depicted the character in an interesting way, different from expectations; he was chosen immediately. The characters of Tobias and George Sr. were originally going to have minor roles, but David Cross's and Jeffrey Tambor's portrayals mixed well with the rest of the characters, and they were given more significant parts.[5] Ron Howard, the Executive Producer, provided the narration for the initial pilot, but meshed so well with the tone of the program that the decision was made to stick with his voice. Howard also aided in the casting of "Lucille 2" - the producers told him that their dream actress for the role would be Liza Minnelli, but assumed nobody of her stature would take the part. However, she agreed when Ron Howard offered to ask her himself, because they were old friends; she had in fact been his babysitter when he was a child and she was a teen.[citation needed]

[edit] Plot synopsis

[edit] First season

George Bluth Sr., patriarch of the Bluth family, is the founder and former CEO of the Bluth Company, which markets and builds mini-mansions, among other activities. George Sr. is arrested by the Securities and Exchange Commission for defrauding investors and gross spending of the company's money for "personal expenses". His wife Lucille becomes CEO, and immediately names as the new president her youngest son Buster, who proves ill-equipped, as his only experience with business is a class he took concerning 18th century agrarian business. Seeing no other options, the family turns to Michael, the middle son and twin to Lindsay, giving him control of the company. To keep the family together, Michael convinces his sister and her side of the family to live together in the Bluth model home (after George Michael expressed his desire to live closer to family, due to his interest in Maeby).

Throughout the first season, different characters struggle to change their identities. Buster works to escape from his mother's control through brotherly bonding and love interests such as Lucille Austero. George Michael nurses a forbidden crush on his cousin Maeby, while continually trying to meet his father's expectations. Lindsay's husband Tobias, a psychiatrist who lost his medical license, searches for work as an actor, with the aid of Carl Weathers. Michael falls in love with his older brother Gob's neglected girlfriend Marta, and is torn between being with her and putting "family first". After he quarrels with Gob, Marta realizes that they do not share the same family values, and she leaves them both. To spite Buster, Lucille adopts a Korean son whom she calls 'Annyong' after she mistakes the Korean word for 'hello' as his name. Through an escalating series of dares, Gob gets married to a woman he just met, played by real-life wife Amy Poehler, but cannot get an annulment because he refuses to admit that he did not consummate the marriage. Kitty, George Sr.'s former assistant, tries to blackmail the company. She is caught in the Bluth family yacht's explosion, as used in one of Gob's magic acts, but survives. After previous failed attempts, and a brief religious stint in Judaism, George Sr. finally escapes from prison by faking a heart attack. It is also revealed that George committed "light treason" by using the company to build mini-palaces for Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

[edit] Second season

Tobias (David Cross) dresses up as a British nanny, Mrs. Featherbottom, to get closer to his family (à la Mrs. Doubtfire)

Because of his father's latest deception, a faked heart attack, Michael decides to leave his family and company behind and go to Phoenix with George Michael. Lucille appoints Gob to be the new Bluth Company president, but he proves incapable and the position reverts to Michael. George Sr.'s twin brother Oscar moves in with Lucille in an attempt to rekindle a previous love affair. After faking his death in Mexico, George Sr. returns to the family model home, where he hides in the attic. Meanwhile, Buster joins the army, but escapes serving in Iraq when his hand is bitten off by a loose seal, which had been given a taste for mammal flesh and subsequently released to the wild by an unwitting Gob. Buster bonds with his uncle Oscar, who is revealed as Buster's presumptive biological father. George Michael begins dating a deeply religious girl, Ann Veal; his father does not like her, and constantly disrupts their relationship. Michael fails to break them up, but George Michael sees a chance for his crush on Maeby to bear fruit, and the pair kiss while the living room of the model home collapses under them.

Covertly, Maeby becomes a film studio executive, and Tobias repeatedly paints himself blue in a futile attempt to join the Blue Man Group. Throughout the season, various blue paint marks can be seen around the family's house and on the back of Tobias's neck when not in full makeup. After being kicked out of the house by Lindsay, Tobias dresses as British nanny "Mrs. Featherbottom" to be around Maeby, an explicit reference to Mrs. Doubtfire. Kitty returns to steal a sample of George Sr.'s semen to make her own Bluth baby. George Sr., in revenge for twin brother Oscar's affair with his wife, exchanges appearances with an unconscious Oscar, who is mistakenly sent to prison in the place of George Sr., who again flees.

[edit] Third season

In the third season, Michael again searches for his runaway father. Gob gets an invitation to a father/son reunion outing, and believes it to be George Sr. trying to contact him. In reality, the invitation was meant to reunite Gob with Steve Holt, son of Eve Holt, a girl with whom he had slept with in high school. Meanwhile, George-Michael and Maeby deal with their previous kiss by avoiding each other.

In an attempt to remain in disguise, George Sr. joins the Blue Man Group. Michael discovers this and arranges to have his father placed under house arrest. George Sr. claims that he was set up by an underground British group. Michael goes to Wee Britain, a fictional British-themed city district, to investigate, and in the process meets a new love interest Rita (Charlize Theron). Michael and the audience are led to believe that Rita is a mole for the underground British group, working for a man named "Mr. F." In the end of the episode titled "Mr. F," it is revealed that Rita is actually an MRF, or "mentally retarded female." The love-struck Michael proposes to her, and the couple run off to be wed. Michael finds out the truth about Rita. However, despite Rita's "condition," the family pushes him to go forward with the marriage because Rita is, in fact, quite wealthy and they desperately want the money. Michael is not persuaded and gently ends the relationship just as he and Rita are about to walk down the aisle. Meanwhile, Tobias and Lindsay variously seek legal help from Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio) concerning their troubled marriage.

Disturbed by both Lindsay's and Tobias's advances, Bob Loblaw chooses to no longer represent the Bluth family. Attorney Jan Eagleman offers to represent the family, on the condition that they participate in a mock trial in a new reality courtroom show called "Judge Reinhold" and presided over by the very same Judge Reinhold. Michael uses an illegal threat from prosecutor Wayne Jarvis to have the mock case "dismissed". Gob and Franklin briefly appear in another eponymous courtroom show presided over by Bud Cort. Meanwhile, Maeby and George Michael perform in a mock wedding which is accidentally conducted by a real priest, and the two become legally married.

The family members are afraid to testify at the mock trial and later real deposition: Buster fakes a coma, Lindsay and Lucille fake entering rehab, and Gob flees the country to perform in a USO Tour in Iraq. All of the deceptions are uncovered by the prosecution, and in Iraq, Gob is arrested for inadvertently inciting an anti-US riot. Buster and Michael travel to Iraq to rescue Gob, and while there, uncover evidence that the mini-palaces George Sr. built in Iraq were actually ordered and paid for by the CIA for wiretapping purposes. After this discovery, the US government drops all of the charges against George Sr.

To celebrate, the Bluths throw a shareholders' party on the RMS Queen Mary. During preparation for the party, it is revealed that Lindsay was adopted, meaning that George Michael and Maeby are not blood relatives. At the party, the Bluth's other adopted child, Annyong, reappears. He reveals that he is there to avenge the Bluth family's theft of his grandfather's frozen banana idea and the cause of his subsequent deportation, an event orchestrated many years earlier by Lucille Bluth. Annyong has turned over evidence implicating Lucille in the Bluth Company's accounting scandals. Before the police arrive, Michael and George Michael flee on Gob's yacht, the C-Word, and depart to Cabo with half a million dollars in cashier's checks, finally leaving the family to fend for themselves. However, it is revealed in the epilogue that George Sr. is also on the yacht, having lured his brother Oscar into taking his place once again. Also in the epilogue, Maeby tries to sell the television rights to the story of the Bluth family to Ron Howard, who tells her that he sees it as a movie rather than a series.

In light of FOX's possible cancellation of the show, the first episode of 2006 parodied various gimmicks that other shows had used during November sweeps in 2005. Thinly-veiled allusions were made to the possibility of HBO or Showtime picking the show up in the event of its cancellation. The episode took shots at frequently cited reasons for the show's failure in the ratings, such as complex storylines that can be hard to follow, obscure references that may go over viewers' heads, and main characters who were not sympathetic or relatable.

[edit] Episodes

Season Ep # First Airdate Last Airdate
Season 1 22 November 2, 2003 June 6, 2004
Season 2 18 November 7, 2004 April 17, 2005
Season 3 13 September 19, 2005 February 10, 2006

[edit] Themes and other characteristics

The show focuses on the tension that developed between the members of the Bluth family, primarily from their diminished spending power. Each show pulls from a serpentine mix of sibling rivalries, unresolved oedipal conflicts, sexual incompatibilities, personal identity crises, adolescent trauma, aging, pride, miscommunication, lying, guilt, subterfuge, determination, immigration, manipulation, mutilation, social status anxiety, incest taboo, alcoholism, and a wide variety of other themes.

Much like other dysfunctional-family comedies such as Malcolm in the Middle and The Simpsons, the family unit is depicted as necessary for the survival of the individual. Much of the comedy comes from the quirks of the characters and the patterns that developed within the family structure.

[edit] Unique presentation

Arrested Development uses several elements that are rare for American live-action sitcoms. Like a documentary, it often cuts away abruptly from scenes in order to supplement the narrative with material such as security camera footage, Bluth family photos, website screenshots, and archive films. Flashbacks are also extensively used to show the Bluth family members in various stages of their lives. The show does not employ a laugh track, allowing for uninterrupted back-and-forth dialogue and permitting more time for plot development and jokes. An omniscient third-person narrator (producer Ron Howard, uncredited) ties together the multiple plot threads running through each episode, and provides tongue-in-cheek commentary. Wordplay is abundant, for humor and plot; a character may misinterpret an ambiguous phrase with embarrassing or disastrous results. Before cutting to a commercial, the show flashes a white screen instead of the usual black screen.

[edit] Opening credits

With few exceptions, Arrested Development begins immediately with the title credits, rather than a cold open (which is more common for modern sitcoms). Over a series of slides introducing the characters using archive photos, Ron Howard provides a narrative summary of the show's premise ("Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It's Arrested Development.") accompanied by the show's theme tune. The credits serve to immediately introduce the new viewer to many of the unique elements of the show: the documentary-style use of archive photos and footage, the upbeat soundtrack, and the presence of the narrator.

[edit] "On the next Arrested Development"

Almost every episode ends with an epilogue segment called "On the next Arrested Development," in which lingering stories are wrapped up or extended humorously. These segments portray events that do not usually appear in the subsequent episodes, but remain part of the show's canon. However, on some rare occasions (typically in the first half of a two-part episode), scenes from these portions are worked into the following episode; also, the segment occasionally shows a significant plot twist (e.g. Maggie Lizer's deception, Buster's accident,[6] Steve Holt's discovery[7]). The second episode of Season 3 reversed this by having "Previously on..." featuring the resolution of the cliffhanger and nearly an entire episode of plot changes within thirty seconds. The epilogue sometimes shows a several-second continuation of the previous scene, in comically direct opposition to the name of the sequence.

The first and second season finales changed the segment to "On the next season of Arrested Development…" and in the third season finale (which was also the series finale), it became "On the epilogue…".

[edit] Intertextuality and reflexivity

Scene referring to Burger King and product placement:
Tobias: "It's a wonderful restaurant!"
Narrator: "It sure is!"[8]

The show is highly intertextual and reflexive, features commonly associated with postmodernism. For example, Arrested Development often alludes to the past work of its cast and crew through the restaging of familiar scenarios, such as Fonzie's jumping the shark from Happy Days,[8] Tony Hale's bit part in a Volkswagen commercial, and by casting former collaborators in small bit parts, including many cast members from Mr. Show as well as improv comics from Christopher Guest films. Guest stars frequently appear from other lauded television comedies such as The Daily Show, Seinfeld, Scrubs, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Simpsons, and Saturday Night Live. The show's reflexiveness may be literal or subtle. In the episode "For British Eyes Only," Michael tells George Sr., who he believes is trying to convince him of a lie, "You're a regular Brad Garrett." This is in reference to the Emmy Awards that directly preceded the episode's original airing, where Garrett beat out Jeffrey Tambor (George Sr.) for "Best Supporting Actor." The series has acknowledged its competition (Desperate Housewives), commercial sponsor (Burger King),[8] its struggle to go after an "idiot demographic,"[9] its use of dramatic moments as act breaks, and FOX's cutback of the second season to 18 episodes. The episode "S.O.B.s" made numerous references to Arrested Development's attempts to remain on air by parodying typical television ratings ploys and hinted at the attempts of other networks to purchase the series from FOX. In another example Charlize Theron's character Rita is shown prior to her plastic surgery, which is a picture of her as Aileen Wuornos in Monster. In addition, narrator Ron Howard has made several references to his experiences on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days.

[edit] Incest

Several of the major characters of the show are at some stage involved in a plot with incestuous themes [10]. Frequently, this theme is linked with questions about murky family lineage. For example, George Michael's attraction to Maeby, who may or may not be his cousin. There is also the neat symmetry of Maeby's interest in Steve Holt, who likewise may or may not be her cousin. In the second season, the episode "Afternoon Delight" played on this theme when Michael and Maeby (and later George Michael and Lindsay) sing the Starland Vocal Band song of the same name, being unaware of its sexual nature. This theme is explored on one particularly notable occasion in the episode "Family Ties", through the character of Nellie Bluth, who Michael thinks for a time might be his older sister, but who herself presumes Michael is interested in her for sex. The fact that Nellie Bluth is played by Jason Bateman's real life sister Justine Bateman (who also starred in the 1980s sitcom "Family Ties") lends the plot line an additional layer of comedic complication. In addition, Rita, Michael's mentally retarded girlfriend, has her limited mental capabilities attributed to her parents being cousins. Yet another example of this theme is when, upon discovering her adoption, Lindsay attempts to seduce her brother Michael. Gob, out of brotherly competition, later attempts to seduce her. Another running joke throughout the series was Buster's Freudian obsession with his mother. This strangely co-dependent relationship is highlighted in the episode "Motherboy XXX", where Buster says: "whenever she'd change clothes, she'd make me wait on the balcony until zip-up – and yet anything goes at bath-time".

[edit] Topicality

Arrested Development plays with divisive, controversial social and political issues. Writers have turned references to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal,[8] the U.S. Army's recruiting crisis, inadequate supplies for US troops, the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo-op into jokes.[11][12] Also George Sr. has been a parody of Osama Bin Laden[11] and appeared with Saddam Hussein. There are also occasional references made to the USA PATRIOT Act, namely as a catchall excuse for the prosecutors against the Bluths to act in underhanded and illegal ways. It has also poked fun at the decadence of American white collar criminals, "limousine liberals", religious protest campaigns, the Terri Schiavo case, controversy over public display of the Ten Commandments, and the restriction of protesters to "free speech zones". Other references include "Girls with Low Self-Esteem" (a parody of Girls Gone Wild), "Boyfights" (a parody of Bumfights), Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11,[13][9] low-carb diets, and "Star Wars Kid".[7][11]

[edit] Continuity

The plot regularly features callbacks to previous episodes (e.g., Gob's recurring use of the phrases "Come on!" and "I've made a huge mistake" and a disgustedly uttered "typical" whenever Michael is gone or missing, repeated use of family members' "chicken dances" and the infomercial for George Sr.'s infamous invention The Cornballer) and will often use what creator Mitch Hurwitz has termed "call-forwards", wherein plots or events will be foreshadowed in subtle ways. For example, many references are made to the loss of limbs, foreshadowing the loss of Buster's hand in the second season. The first season episode "Pier Pressure" has several flashbacks to George Sr. hiring J. Walter Weatherman, a man with a prosthetic arm, to teach his children “lessons” by staging elaborate scenes in which the man’s arm is pulled or cut off as a result of the children's misbehavior. Before losing his hand, Buster retrieves his hand-shaped chair, which his mother had given to her maid Lupe. He then says, "I never thought I could miss a hand so much." In Season 3, they allude to Rita being mentally retarded in many subtle ways, including a scene in "Forget-Me-Now", when after having been left unconscious on a bus bench by Gob and Lindsey, a still groggy Rita is seen sitting up, partially obscuring an advertisement for "Wee Britain", the (fictional) English-themed section of Orange County, such that it now reads "Wee Brain".

[edit] Music

Gob on stage, performing to "The Final Countdown"

[edit] Original music

Besides the short ukulele-based theme song composed by David Schwartz, which is also used as Lindsay's cell phone ringtone, a number of other songs are featured prominently in Arrested Development. In the second and third seasons of the show, Gob's duet with his puppet Franklin, titled "It Ain't Easy Being White", is a repeated joke. The duet parodies Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney's "Ebony and Ivory".

"Free at Last", written by David Schwartz and Gabriel Mann, and performed by Mann and Maxayn Lewis, is used in conjunction with parties, protests, or other events involving gay men, transvestites, or male strippers. A recurring gay crossdresser holds a "Freedom" sign of various sizes under this music. An original song called "Big Yellow Joint", apparently written about the Bluth Banana Stand, sounds almost identical to Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" and is often used in scenes with aged hippie Oscar Bluth or his stash of marijuana.

Short clips of music are also used to highlight recurring comedic themes in the series. For example, during George Sr.'s stints with religion, or other religious experiences, whether real or feigned, a duduk moans in the background. Mentions of Mexico get a Spanish guitar riff, and displays of Balboa Bay Window magazine are accompanied by upbeat elevator music. The same dramatic soap opera style music can always be heard (and abruptly cut off) whenever Oscar makes a hint about being Buster's father. For Season 3's recurring motif of an alleged British conspiracy against the Bluth family, music parodying that of the James Bond spy films ("For British Eyes Only") is played at each mention of the British.

[edit] Other music

George Michael, George Sr., Tobias, and Gob in "Good Grief" walking to the theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Nikka Costa's "Everybody Got Their Something" was used for energetic segues in the pilot, before being supplanted by Schwartz and Mann's stylistically similar "I Get Up" in later episodes.[14] The series' second episode features Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" while Michael and George Michael watch the family's banana stand burn down.[15] Gob uses Europe's 1986 hit single "The Final Countdown" in his magic acts, attempting to increase the audience's excitement through improvised dancing and rapid-fire magic tricks. "The Final Countdown" is also Gob's ringtone. "Cry Love" by John Hiatt is playing in the fourth episode while Gob is playing catch with his father (in prison) and then is stabbed, and also as Michael's feelings for Marta increase. Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do, I Do it For You" can also be heard sung by Gob on his CD he recorded for Michael. "Christmas Time Is Here," Vince Guaraldi's piano theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas, plays in several episodes when a male character is depressed; the Arrested Development characters recreate Charlie Brown's dejected walk from the television special.

"Gonna Get Together", by Leroy, is used during awkward, sexually suggestive situations involving George Michael and his cousin, Maeby, or his girlfriend, Ann. The song "Ain't No Big Thing" is played when introducing the frontispiece in season-one episode "In God We Trust" to underscore the small size of the prosthetic penis to be worn by George Michael in the living portrayal of The Creation of Adam. Ashford and Simpson's "Solid" is used by Gob as theme music for his 'Bluth Homes: Solid as a Rock' campaign. The Starland Vocal Band song "Afternoon Delight" acted as a plot point in the second-season episode of the same name. Whenever Gob introduces his black puppet "Franklin," funk music is played, featuring a slap bass technique.

[edit] Response

[edit] Lawsuit over title

In November 2003, the producers of the show were sued by the hip hop group Arrested Development over the use of the name.[16] Rapper "Speech" from the group said in an interview that the band were offered a settlement of $10,000 for trademark infringement and stated that even the FOX presenter of the T.V. series was confused, asking if it was a "concert by the band?" when announcing the new TV series. [17] The incident was referenced humorously in an episode of the show: In episode "The Sword of Destiny", Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller), a magician, explains that he will have to change the title of his planned home video release because "some band has got the rights to Use Your Illusion." He later releases a video of his magic act as Use Your Allusion II. In episode "Motherboy XXX", the narration refers to a band called "Motherboy", which the narration claims the show is "legally required to make a distinction" from, with respect to the "Motherboy" event happening in the episode.

[edit] Television ratings

The show, while critically acclaimed, did not gain a sizable audience.[1] According to the Nielsen Ratings system, U.S. ratings in the second season averaged about six million viewers, while the third season averaged about four million viewers.[18] To promote their re-broadcast of the animated series Family Guy, FOX announced that it would halt the production of the second season at eighteen episodes – four episodes short of the planned season. Despite rumors that this was a prelude to cancellation, the network defended its actions, claiming that the show would fare poorly during network sweeps period, and that it was simply a procedural matter. The show's writers did, however, parody this in the episode "Sword of Destiny," which aired in March 2005: in the beginning of the episode, Michael is complaining because the Bluth Company's order to design and build 22 homes has been cut down to 18 homes. Later in the episode, FOX is parodied when a website is swamped with popup ads about Family Guy.

For the third season, FOX positioned the show at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and 7:00 p.m. CT/MT, directly opposite Monday Night Football in the Mountain and Pacific time zones, whereas MNF would not have started yet in the other two. Ratings were even worse than previous seasons. On November 9, 2005, FOX announced that the show would not be airing in November sweeps, and that they had cut the episode order for the third season from 22 to 13. FOX ended up showing the last four episodes in a two-hour timeslot—directly opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics. As a result, the finale received only 3.3 million viewers.

[edit] Critical reception

Since its debut and throughout its run, the series has been critically acclaimed.[1]

"Is it beating a dead horse to once again state that this underappreciated gem is the best sitcom on TV? Too bad. 'Arrested Development' is the best sitcom on TV!"
—Tim Stack, Entertainment Weekly, October 14, 2005, p.133[19]
"If you're not watching this series on Fox, the least you can do is buy it on DVD. You'll love it, and it's such a dense show (in the best sense of the word) that it rewards repeated viewing. Like Scrubs and the British version of The Office, it's the sort of show that truly deserves to be seen uninterrupted, several episodes at a time, for maximum enjoyment. The laughs-per-minute quotient here is insanely high, making it great value as a home library purchase."
—David Bianculli, New York Daily News, October 12, 2005.[20]
"As Hollywood agents worry about the demise of the town's lowing cash cow, the multi-camera, staged sitcom, here to save the day is Arrested Development, a farce of such blazing wit and originality, that it must surely usher in a new era in comedy."
—Alison Powell, The Guardian (UK), March 12, 2005.[21]
"This lampoon about a wealthy American family trying to survive while its patriarch is in jail for fraud is one of the funniest shows on telly."
—Marc McEvoy, The Age (Australia), October 17, 2005.[22]
"As oddball as Arrested is, it's also humane. A flawless cast — from Will Arnett's breathy, bombastic Gob to Jessica Walter's boozy Lucille — grounds it, aided by Ron Howard's affable narration. Of course, the center of sensibility is good son Michael (Jason Bateman) and his even better son, George Michael (Michael Cera). Bateman and Cera give the best reacts around — the former all weary exasperation, the latter adorably bunny-stunned. Together, they're the sweetest, awkwardest straight men on the smartest, most shockingly funny series on TV...which is likely canceled, despite six Emmy wins. It's a perversion not even the Bluths deserve."
—Gillian Flynn, Entertainment Weekly, Best of 2005 Issue naming Arrested Development the best TV show of 2005

The show has, however, been poorly received by some critics, including Germaine Greer:

"Excuse me for being jaded. But this is like court jester stuff from the evil empire. No wonder it didn't get any viewing figures... This is on cable television. We've seen this over and over again. This is 'Six-Feet Under' set on a boat... It's like they've got the dumb black person on there who's been in prison, who calls the guy's father Petal. They've got the crazy gay people, they've got the bitch mama. You know, it's the whole thing. You can do this in your sleep. I don't know what to say. There is maybe a cultural divide here. But I thought it was horrible... It's a whole bunch of one-liners isn't it? The whole thing that goes through is air..."
-Germaine Greer, BBC Newsnight Review (UK), September 2004 [23]

[edit] Nominations and awards

For the first season, the show won five Emmy Awards in 2004, including "Outstanding Comedy Series," "Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series," "Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series" and "Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series," both for the pilot episode written by Mitchell Hurwitz and for direction by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo. In 2005, the second season brought eleven Emmy nominations in seven categories and one win, for "Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series" for the season finale "Righteous Brothers," written by Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely. For its truncated third season, the show received four 2006 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Will Arnett as Gob), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series for the episode "Ocean Walker," and Outstanding Comedy Writing for the episode "Development Arrested."[24] The show also has a spot on Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Shows of All Time.[2]

Other awards include:

  • The 2004 TV Land Award for "Future Classic," the first recognition the series received. The award presentation is included on the Season One DVD release.
  • The Television Critics Association 2004 Awards for "Outstanding Comedy" and "Outstanding New Program," and the 2005 award for "Outstanding Achievement in Comedy."
  • The 2005 Golden Globe Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy" for Jason Bateman.
  • The 2004 Writers Guild of America Award for best teleplay in an episodic comedy, for the first season episode "Pier Pressure," written by Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Valley.
  • In 2004, for season one, the Golden Satellite Award for "Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical," along with best performance by an actor/actress in a supporting role, comedy or musical awards for Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter. In 2005, for season two, Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi won best actor and actress in a series, comedy or musical. Jason Bateman also won the same award for the third season.
  • For her role as Maeby Fünke, Alia Shawkat won a Young Artist Award in 2005.

[edit] Post-cancellation

Despite months-long rumors of Arrested Development having been picked up by the cable television network Showtime[25], the San Francisco Chronicle reported on March 28, 2006 that creator Mitch Hurwitz would not be returning.[26] As Showtime had made it clear that Hurwitz's involvement was a requirement for the continuation of the show, Arrested Development is considered by both its creators and fans as having reached its end on television. As Hurwitz explained, "I had taken it as far as I felt I could as a series. I told the story I wanted to tell, and we were getting to a point where I think a lot of the actors were ready to move on." [27] He said that he was "more worried about letting down the fans in terms of the quality of the show dropping" than he was about disappointing fans by not giving them more episodes. In this same interview, he said, "If there's a way to continue this in a form that's not weekly episodic series television, I'd be up for it."

[edit] Broadcast history

The first season of Arrested Development premiered in the U.S. on November 2, 2003, on FOX. The time slot was repeatedly changed in attempts to increase its ratings. Three seasons, totalling 53 episodes, were produced. The final 4 episodes of season 3 of Arrested Development were shown back-to-back in a special two hour block on February 10, 2006 from 8–10pm ET/PT on FOX, opposite of the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on NBC.

The series also aired in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, among others. The series began airing in the UK on September 29, 2004, initially on both BBC Two and BBC Four. Mid-way through the second season, however, the show was dropped from BBC Four, while the time slot for BBC Two was repeatedly changed. The second season typically aired on BBC Two on Sunday nights at around 11:30 p.m., and the third season was broadcast in a similar timeslot. Bravo also picked up the UK repeat rights to the show, and aired them Fridays at 10 p.m. from August 25, 2006. In August 2007 BBC2 started repeating season one again, and from August 25, 2007, Bravo is also repeating season one and season two, showing 2 episodes a night every night at 3am, with season two starting on the September 5, 2007.

As of May 20, 2008, the entire series is available for purchase on iTunes and as free stream on Hulu and also MSN. It is also broadcast in high definition on the HDNet channel, and in standard definition on G4 in the USA.

In Australia, the series premiered on November 30, 2004, on the free-to-air Seven Network at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. It was later moved to the 11:00 p.m. timeslot on Monday nights on Channel 7, with the second season starting on November 28, 2005. Season 3 premiered on April 25, 2006 on Channel 7 at 12:00 a.m. with The Cabin Show. It premiered on Foxtel's Comedy Channel in August 2005.

In Canada, the show originally ran on Global in simulcast with Fox. A strip rerun currently airs at midnight local time on CBC Television.[28]

Other international markets which have aired the show include the following, listed here with premiere dates: Argentina, March 2, 2004; Italy, April 8, 2004; Ireland, August 5, 2004; Turkey, September 6, 2004; Finland, February 2, 2005; Sweden, February 14, 2005; Iceland, August 12, 2005; South Africa on Season 1 2004 and Season 2 May 14, 2006; Netherlands, September 3, 2005; Germany, January 18, 2007 and Serbia, July 30, 2007.

[edit] DVD releases

Season Release Dates Ep # Additional Information
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 October 19, 2004 March 21, 2005 February 23, 2005 22 This three disc box set includes all 22 episodes from Season 1. Bonus features include the unaired, full length pilot episode, commentary by creator Mitchell Hurwitz and other members of the cast on three episodes, deleted and extended scenes, a soundtrack by David Schwarz, and various behind-the-scenes featurettes. Disk 3 contains an easter egg with bonus outtakes of Tobias. [29]
2 October 11, 2005 January 23, 2006 March 15, 2006 18 This three disc box set includes all 18 episodes from Season 2. Bonus features include commentary on three episodes, deleted scenes, bloopers, and the campaign videos from the episode "The Immaculate Election".[30]
3 August 29, 2006 April 23, 2007 December 6, 2006 13 This two disc box set includes all 13 episodes from Season 3. Bonus features include commentary on three episodes, 19 deleted and extended scenes, behind the scenes featurette, and Season 3 blooper reel.[31]

[edit] Notable guests

Recurring roles

Guest appearances

[edit] Feature film

Rumors of a possible full-length Arrested Development film circulated after the show's final episode.[32] On February 1, 2008, Jason Bateman confirmed that series creator Mitchell Hurwitz and executive producer/narrator Ron Howard have "put the wheels in motion toward a major motion picture."[33] In April of that year, Jeffrey Tambor and Bateman confirmed their interest and it is reported that "everyone seems to be very much on board and excited" about the film's prospects.[34] Arrested Development: The Movie is currently awaiting production, with the script to be written by Hurwitz;[35][34][36][37] Ron Howard was slated to direct,[38][37] but Hurwitz declared at WonderCon that he would direct. Reportedly, all original members of the main cast are expected to reprise their roles.[4]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c Colin Mahan (2007-03-26). "Three times the Arrested Development".;title;15. Retrieved on 2007-07-29. 
  2. ^ a b James Poniewozik (2007-10). "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time Magazine.,28804,1651341_1659188_1652056,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-28. 
  3. ^ Kristin Dos Santos (2007-02-01). "Exclusive! Jason Bateman Confirms Arrested Development Movie Talks". Yahoo! TV.;_ylt=AuK7ETKJIdGTP7M9Gu47UVyAo9EF. Retrieved on 2008-02-02. 
  4. ^ a b c Dos Santos, Kristin (2009-02-24). "Sources: Michael Cera Joins Arrested Development Movie". E! Online - Watch with Kristin. Retrieved on 2009-02-27. 
  5. ^ a b c "Interview: Katie O’Connell". November 24 2005. 
  6. ^ "Out on a Limb," aired March 6, 2005.
  7. ^ a b "The Immaculate Election", aired March 20, 2005.
  8. ^ a b c d "Motherboy XXX," aired March 13, 2005.
  9. ^ a b "Spring Breakout", aired April 10, 2005.
  10. ^ "Awkward TV Nation". Entertainment Weekly.,,20058983,00.html. Retrieved on February 22 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c "Sword of Destiny," aired March 27, 2005.
  12. ^ "The Cabin Show," aired September 19, 2005.
  13. ^ "Not Without My Daughter (Arrested Development episode)," aired April 25, 2004.
  14. ^ Episode transcript of pilot, retrieved July 5, 2006
  15. ^ IMDB page: Soundtracks for Arrested Development: Top Banana.
  16. ^ "Arrested Development sue Fox" IMdB News.
  17. ^ [1] "Speech from hip hop group "Arrested Development on suing FOX for use of name" "HBCU Club - Interview by Sidney Robbins
  18. ^ "Die-hard Arrested Development fans already feeling sting of loss". Retrieved on November 23 2005. 
  19. ^ "EW DVD Review". Retrieved on November 21 2005. 
  20. ^ "New York Daily News: Box sets that make great gifts". Retrieved on November 21 2005. 
  21. ^ "A family affair". The Guardian.,11710,1435617,00.html. Retrieved on November 24 2005. 
  22. ^ "The Age: Arrested Development". Retrieved on November 24 2005. 
  23. ^ "BBC Newsnight Review transcript". Retrieved on February 20 2008. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Josef Adalian (2007-03-26). " - Hurwitz takes a hike". Retrieved on 2007-07-29. 
  26. ^ "San Francisco Chronicle: "R.I.P., Arrested Development"". Retrieved on March 28 2006. 
  27. ^ Dan Snierson (2006-03-30). "'Development' Hell".,,1178690,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-26. 
  28. ^, "Program Guide: Arrested Development," URL accessed October 11, 2008.
  29. ^ " Arrested Development Season 1 DVD: Product details". Retrieved on November 18 2005. 
  30. ^ " Arrested Development Season 2 DVD: Product details". Retrieved on November 18 2005. 
  31. ^ " Arrested Development Season 3 DVD: Product details". Retrieved on May 2 2007. 
  32. ^ Carreau, Isabelle (2008-02-03). "Arrested Development Movie Rumors". TV Squad. Retrieved on 2008-04-13. 
  33. ^ "Exclusive! Jason Bateman Confirms Arrested Development Movie Talks". Yahoo TV. 2008-02-01.;_ylt=AuK7ETKJIdGTP7M9Gu47UVyAo9EF. Retrieved on 2008-02-03. 
  34. ^ a b Dos Santos, Kristin. "Jason Bateman Confirms Arrested Development Movie Talks". Retrieved on 2008-04-13. 
  35. ^ "Arrested Development (2009)". IMDb. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  36. ^ Lanktree, Laura (2008-04). "Celebrity Insider: Alia Shawkat". Retrieved on 2008-08-14. 
  37. ^ a b Carreau, Isabelle (2008-05-06). "Arrested Development Movie: Maeby". Radar Online. Retrieved on 2008-05-06. 
  38. ^ Hollywood Reporter: 'Arrested Development' film gets closer

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