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October 9, 2013

The Couch Potato: ‘Development’ arrested far too soon — but there’s hope

NEW CASTLE — The old Couch Potato has been writing this blog for 18 weeks now, and somehow I have not devoted more than a paragraph to one of the best shows of all time: “Arrested Development.”

It’s funny what we remember. In terms of my life at college, there are certain things that stand out like they happened yesterday and countless other happenings that have faded away forever. 

One of those things I distinctly remember is the first time I watched “Arrested Development.”

I hated it.

One of my college friends had “Arrested” on in his dorm room one night and it was kind of playing in the background as white noise. When a few people shuffled out of the room, there wasn’t much else to do but watch what was on the television. 

The first scene I ever watched of this show included Portia de Rossi playing the character of Lindsay, the spoiled, barely married, egotistical socialite. Since another Fox show with Portia de Rossi, “Ally McBeal,” had just ended in 2002 and it was now 2003, I couldn’t help but think that Fox had promised de Rossi some sweetheart deal to appear in this show. It just seemed like character recycling to me.

Needless to say, I was turned off and maybe that is why I was got up and left without watching much more than a scene.

The following summer while we were home from college, another friend of mine convinced me to give “Arrested Development” a try by watching the Season One DVD set he had just bought. I was hesitant, but finally relented and off we went.

Much to my surprise, we both found that the show was clever, witty, full of callbacks to previous episodes (always a plus in comedy) and quite frankly better than anything else we’d ever seen on television, in terms of comedy.

Our favorite was GOB (George Oscar Bluth, pronounced like the Biblical Job), played by Will Arnett. His commanding presence and booming voice, coupled with his insecurities and silly magic tricks made for high comedy. Straight man Michael Bluth, played to perfection by Jason Bateman, offered the perfect balance between a wacky family members and sanity. De Rossi, David Cross, Michael Cera and Tony Hale rounded out a cast that had no equal.

If you’re looking for a description of the show, it's too hard to even explain. But maybe show narrator Ron Howard did it best when offered this in the opening title sequence: “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.”

That iconic quote was sadly retired in 2006, when Fox canceled the show after only three seasons. The program was never really able to find a strong audience and the final four episodes were aired in a two-hour block opposite the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. It was a unjust end to one of television’s greatest comedies.

However, that all changed in the past year when Netflix was able to revive the series after seven long years off the air. A 15-episode fourth season was somewhat miraculously produced with the whole cast all being able to participate. 

The structure of the new season was not the same as the first three and, oddly, all 15 episodes were made available for viewing at the same time on Netflix streaming. 

Now here is the sad part of this story. The fourth season was released in May, which is about five months ago now. I still have not watched the new season. I do not have Netflix streaming service and therefore, have not seen any of the new material.

My goal is to get this show watched soon, and hopefully bring back some of the good memories that are maybe still rattling around up there in the old Couch Potato brain.


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