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Arrested Development: Season 3

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: A/B+/A-

Directed by: Paul Feig, John Fortenberry, John Amodeo, Lev Spiro, Arlene Sanford, etc.
Written by: Mitchell Hurwitz, Jim Vallely, Richard Day, Tom Saunders, etc.
Produced by: John Amodeo, Barbara Feldman and Victor Hsu
Starring: Jason Bateman, Portia De Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

Since the first sitcom, there have been many brilliant shows with fake laughter. MASH, Seinfeld and Fawlty Towers all rank as some of my favourite shows. However, since the start of the twenty-first century, I have not encountered a single multi-camera show with laugh track that ranks up there with those classics. Instead, I am getting most of my laughs from single-camera sitcoms sans background laughter. My Name is Earl, The Office and Scrubs have all impressed me a lot. The show that I have enjoyed the most, however, has been the poorly marketed Fox show Arrested Development. This is witty satire at its best with completely memeorable characters and one great script after another.

In the show's final season, the storylines are quickly wrapped up in thirteen episodes. Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) continues to try and save his family's failing business, while his father (Jeffrey Tambor) is put under house arrest. The Funkes (Portia De Rossi and David Cross), meanwhile try to save their marriage from falling apart, completing forgetting about their daughter Maeby (Alia Shawkat) who is having an on-again, off-again relationship with her cousin (Michael Cera). Gob Bluth (Will Arnett) is also reconnecting with his long lost son, while Buster (Tony Hale) attempts to get out of the Army. This all leads up to a sweeping Emmy-nominated finale where everything is finally revealed.

Reading the above description, you might think that this is your average sitcom about a dysfunctional family, but it completely destroys the usual cliches. The jokes are clever and (mostly due to not having the distraction of an in-studio audience) come at break-neck speed. The writers aren't the only ones who deserve credit. The producers have gotten a great ensemble of actors for the roles. Will Arnett, David Cross and Tony Hale provide the majority of laughs, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the cast can't chime in. Jason Bateman, playing the straight man, uses dry wit as does Jessica Walter who makes you laugh and cringe at the same time. The various guest stars, most notably Scott Baio (as the new Bluth lawyer) and Charlize Theron (playing Michael's new British girlfriend) also add to the fun. Despite the many flaws of the characters, you can't help but love them.

Arrested Development also manages to stand up well on repeat viewings. You discover new jokes and ones you enjoyed before never get old. This series is completely flawless and shame on Fox for cancelling it. This viewer will never watch that network again after the atrocious way they handled such a brilliant series. However, they have taken very good care with this two-disc set. The video and audio are also much better than they appear on television. Kudos to the network for at least making the DVDs very watchable.

In terms of extras, both discs feature very amusing audio commentary tracks and deleted scenes. The deleted scenes provide typical Arrested Development hilarity, while the audio commentary gives some nice background information on the final season and it's very obvious that the cast misses the show just as much as us fans do. The second disc has some more extras, like a blooper reel and a featurette on the last day of shooting. It will certainly bring tears to your eyes and will make you hate Fox even more.

With marvelous extras, a terrific tranfer and many rewatches, it's hard for me to not give the final (*sniff*) season of Arrested Development a Buy it! rating.

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