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Arrested Development: Season 2

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

Directed by: Lee Shallat-Chemel, Patty Jenkins, Jeff Melman, Peter Lauer, etc.
Written by: Mitchell Hurwitz, Richard Rosenstock, Jim Vallely, Brad Copeland, 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. More wacky adventures and more laughs continue in the amazing second season of the show.

After leaving his father's housing company, Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) returns once again to restore the family name. His position as president, however, has been given to his older brother Gob (Will Arnett), but in title only. Meanwhile, his younger brother Buster (Tony Hale) attempts to be kicked out of the army after being signed up by his mother Lucille (Jessica Walter). Lindsay and Tobias Funke decide to have an open relationship to save their marriage, which naturally leads to hilarious results. Finally, the rest of the family scratch their heads figuring out why Michael's son (Michael Cera) finds his highly religious girlfriend so attractive. Oh and his cousin Maeby (Alia Shawkat) gets a job at a local movie studio. It's Arrested Development.

As per last season, 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 Henry Winkler (as the Bluth lawyer) and Liza Minnelli (playing one of Buster's girlfriends) 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. Much like a Shakespearean play, there are double meanings, ironies and foreshadowings appearing throughout. This series is completely flawless and shame on Fox for not advertising it properly enough. However, they have taken very good care with this three-disc box set, which is done with nice easy to slide out thin cases (those who have the Family Guy sets know what I'm talking about). 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.

The first special features are some enjoyable deleted scenes (which also appear on all discs). They're rather amusing, but somewhat strange because it's not Ron Howard providing the narration (Apparently he was just filling in on the pilot, but his voice worked so well that he stayed in that role for the remainder of the series). Also appearing on all DVDs is one audio commentary each. They're all very funny and enjoyable listens all around. Individual disc extras are a three-minute promo of the first season on Disc One and a hilarious blooper reel on Disc Three. With great extras, a terrific tranfer and many rewatches, it's hard for me to not give the second season of Arrested Development a Buy it! rating.

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