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You Should Be Watching: Arrested Development

Since this show premiered in 2003, perhaps it would be better to call this "You Should Have Been Watching." But thanks to Netflix, a cult following, new episodes produced years after the series ended its network run and the promise of yet another sequel makes it more than worth the trip.

Title: “Arrested Development”

Year it began: 2003

Where it can be seen: Netflix

Who’s in it: Jason Bateman, Portia DeRossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat

Typical episode length: 21 to 37 minutes

The cast of "Arrested Development." (PRNewsFoto/Netflix)

Number of episodes to date: 68

Brief plot description: The Bluth family of Orange County, Calif., a collection of personalities that range somewhere between idiosyncratically troubled and borderline insane, hilariously struggles to come together and unite behind oldest son Michael (Bateman) after family patriarch George Sr. (Tambor) is arrested and sent to prison for treating his real estate development company like a piggy bank.

Why it’s worth watching:

The short answer is that it is one of the funniest shows in television history and you probably missed it when it was running on Fox. Despite widespread critical acclaim and a raft of awards including the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series (2004), it never managed to attract a large-enough audience while competing against “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” on ABC. (This led Bateman to famously ask while hosting “Saturday Night Live”: “Who’s going to watch us when they can watch a hot shirtless guy build a skate ramp for a kid with no bones?”)

The longer answer is that precise writing delivered with impeccable timing by gifted comic actors created riotously funny characters and absurd situations.

There is Bateman’s Michael, trying to be a leader but always on the verge of meltdown, usually because of something his family has done or his father has hidden; Arnett’s Gob (pronounced Jobe), hoping to make it as a magician while doing as little work as possible; Cross’ Tobias, who gave up a medical career to become an actor and, as an aside, is never without his cut-offs because he is a “never-nude”; Walter’s manipulative mother and former socialite Lucille, perpetually turning her children against each other, by any means necessary; Cera’s George-Michael – grandson of George, son of Michael, whose name being uttered never gets old or not funny – madly and horrifyingly in love with his first cousin, Shawkat's Maeby (pronounced Maybe).

Even the vehicles the family uses are funny – Michael’s bicycle, Gob’s Segway – but nothing tops the truck with stairs attached that had been used for the company jet. It is nearly impossible to make it through an entire episode without laughing out loud.

You Should Be Watching: The archive



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