Arrested Development: the greatest show on earth

Arrested Development is the greatest television show ever made.

There. I said it.

If you look at lists of great TV, there are many fine shows that I absolutely love. The Wire was a phenomenal examination of how drugs affect our lives, and grew over five astonishing seasons into a novelistic view of an entire city, its inhabitants, politics, schools, media, and it’s slow, agonising decline. It was majestic, truthful, nuanced, tough, sophisticated, and ought to be on every curriculum there is. The world’s politicians should be made to sit down and watch it, as it rubs their noses into what their capitalist system is doing to those at the tough end. It’s almost unbeatably good television.

The Sopranos was consistently stupendous: complex, powerful, dark, funny, endlessly entertaining, and with a stunning central performance. James Gandolfini was electifying even when he was just shovelling pasta into his face. I even loved the last 30 seconds, which few people really “got”.

In Britain we have a wonderful history of great programming: The Singing Detective, Blackadder, Attenborough and much more. We should be intensely proud of them all.

But above everything else is Arrested Development, simply the funniest sitcom ever. And you’ve probably never heard of it. But you should have. Go to Amazon this instant, and buy all three glorious seasons. Are you still here? You should be on Amazon!

Arrested Development follows the Bluth family, three generations of money-grubbing, lazy, stupid, insensitive, racist, selfish, incestuous, treacherous bastards, being held together by Micheal, the only sane one, and the only one who’s ever done a day’s work.

The programme is incredibly fast-moving, and every episode has as much farcical plotting as 3 whole seasons of any other sitcom. It plays brilliantly with the expectations of TV, comments on the terribly management decisions at Fox which brought about its cancellation, and features omniscient narration by Ron Howard, perky and gleeful as he dishes the dirt on this terrible bunch of crooks.

I must have watched every episode a dozen times, and still find new jokes. Literally every single day I find myself laughing outloud at some line or joke or chicken impression from the show. I often giggle in the supermarket, and find myself needing to grab the people who are staring at me and tell them they must watch it as a matter of urgency.

Who’s in it? Who isn’t in it!

  • Jason Bateman
  • Micheal Cera
  • Jeffrey Tambor
  • Liza Minnelli
  • Ben Stiller
  • Charlize Theron
  • Carl Weathers
  • Gary Cole
  • Heather Graham
  • Ron Howard
  • Will Arnett
  • Portia de Rossi
  • Scott Baio
  • Ed Begley, Jr.
  • Zach Braff
  • Rob Corddry
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus
  • Judy Greer
  • James Lipton
  • Amy Poehler
  • Frankie Muniz
  • Judge Reinhold
  • Martin Short
  • And a cast of thousands

But don’t imagine this is Friends, with a series of guest cameos. Charlize Theron plays – there’s no other way to say it – a simpleton. Ben Stiller is an utter arsehole of a magician. Liza Minelli plays a vertigo sufferer who collapses every time she has to turn around. Martin Short plays a 93-year-old body builder who vomits when he’s shaken.

It’s just brilliant. Do yourself a favour. You won’t regret it.


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