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Intelligent humor of ‘Arrested Development’ is truly original

Molly Griffin | Tuesday, April 12, 2005

“Arrested Development” won the Emmy for Best Comedy Series last year, and the DVD set for Season One reveals that the underdog series was more than justified in its win. The show is possibly one of the funniest on television at the moment, and watching Season One in its entirety, without breaks, makes it even more enjoyable and entertaining.The show follows the adventures of the wealthy Bluth family, whose world is thrown into chaos when their father is arrested for insider trading. At the center of the mess is Michael (Jason Bateman), the only child not completely maladjusted by the family fortune, and he must not only deal with his off-kilter family but must also try to keep it together.Michael’s siblings include his sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), a spoiled heiress who chooses obscure causes to support; his older brother Gob, a failed magician; and Buster, a mama’s boy who studies off-beat subjects like Native American dancing and cartography so he can avoid school.Then toss into the mix his newly imprisoned father (Jeffrey Tambor), his snobbish, manipulative mother (Jessica Walter), a nutty brother-in-law named Tobias Funke (David Cross), a clueless son George Michael (Michael Cera) and his trouble-magnet cousin Maebe (Alia Shawkat). The acting is impressive from the entire cast, but Bateman stands out as the straight man holding his crazy family together, while Cross steals every scene he appears as the clueless Tobias.Overall, the show is unique, unlike most cookie-cutter sitcoms on the air at the moment. It has no laugh track, uses only a single camera and uses a narrator (producer Ron Howard) to further the action of the show.The show also manages to use a wide range of guest stars, including Liza Minnelli, Henry Winkler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, all without the forced feeling that comes across on most sitcoms.Season one includes 22 episodes plus an unaired pilot on three discs. There are three commentary tracks: the extended pilot episode, “Beef Consomme” and “Let them Eat Cake.” These tracks feature creator Mitchell Hurtz, directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and a wide range of the actors on the show.There are also two behind-the-scenes featurettes, a clip from the TV Land channel’s award show entitled,” The Making of Future Classic,” and another clip entitled ” The Museum of Television & Radio: Q&A with the Cast and Creative Team of Arrested Development.” In addition, there is also a jukebox on Disc One that features 28 songs from composer David Schwartz, a sit-down interview with Ron Howard and a commercial that aired promoting Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ appearance on the show. “Arrested Development” is one of the best shows on television at the moment, and watching all of Season One in a single sitting will make even regular viewers appreciate the show more. The program has a rare mix of intelligent humor with slapstick and genuine emotions created by a near-perfect cast. It is also one of the few DVD sets without a single “skippable” episode.