The Rewind

It's Not The Office, But Arrested Development Will Always Be Near The Top

It's Not The Office, But Arrested Development Will Always Be Near The Top

During lockdown, many became overly reliant on streaming services to pass the time and that was no different for me.

Having been a fan of The Office, in particular the U.S. one (roll on the comments), I was left with filling a void that was particularly hard to do.

After trying Parks & Recreation and failing, but later returning and enjoying, Arrested Development came up on the Netflix radar and delivered in a time of need.

As it's the 18-year anniversary of when the first episode of the show aired, it's only fitting to go back and talk about where it stands in comedy television hierarchy.

Unique Steading

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Apart from being baffled by a young Michael Cera in the first episode, the show began to take this increasingly silly approach to the usual comedy.

The narration throughout by Ron Howard makes it come across almost as a kids television show at times. A kind of, 'What's x character doing to do next? Let's find out' vibe.

Jason Bateman might be more well known now as a Walter White-esque lead in Ozark, but he grew as the episodes developed as the show's lead in Michael Bluth.

He's a bit vanilla for a lot of people, don't get me wrong. However, the whackiness of some of the characters on the show needed a steady presence.

The Bluth family has a bit of everything to showcase. Michael, the dream chaser. Gob, the out-of-touch sidekick. Buster and Lindsay, the complete opposite adults come children.

They didn't seem like a family short of money, but what they had in riches most definitely lacked in other areas. It was dysfunctional but easily solvable.

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The Best Characters

The late Jessica Walter, who plays mother Lucille Bluth, seems to be a fan favourite for her sassy, not-giving-a-shit nature. She delivers a great performance throughout.

My personal favourite was Tobias Funke, the professional psychiatrist turned aspiring actor. Nothing ever seemed to go right for Tobias.

Nothing ever seemed to go right for most of the characters having said that, which made for this kind of self deprecating likeness to emerge for most.

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But Tobias was so convinced by his journey to become an actor and completely ignore his own family falling by the wayside he became my favourite.

Gob Bluth would get the silver medal here, again for his complete lack of oversight, most notably related to his career prospects. He's seen as a failing magician throughout.

In the complete opposite to Michael, Gob appears to be handed everything in life, and is living life in such denial that it's one of the best narratives of the show.

The Recurring Cast

While the main characters dominate much of the storyline, Arrested Development did a great job in bringing in these side pieces to the overall arc.

Henry Winkler plays a great role as Barry Zuckerkorn, the family lawyer, who seems to be happy to get a quick buck every time he's called upon.

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You have Lucille's arch nemesis, Lucille 2, who eventually goes off with a young one (Buster). She's a steady presence throughout the series.

Carl Weathers as Carl Weathers is great casting. Carl Weathers doesn't need to be a specific character, because he's Carl Weathers at the end of the day.

There are some celebrity cameos from some Hollywood A-listers too. Charlize Theron plays one of Michael's love interests. Ben Stiller plays a rival magician to Gob.

The most ironic pairing is Amy Poehler, who comes in as Gob Bluth's estranged wife at a late point in the show. The two married in real life but are since divorced.

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Comedy Hierarchy

Arrested Development will never top the list of any TV comedy top 100 or top 50. But looking back, it was never wrote for that purpose.

The 'tear your hair out' kind of nature to the show makes it hard to perceive it in much of a credible way. However, that ends up being the charm.

When you look at shows like Parks & Recreation and The Office, the characters grow, develop, and have a sense of purpose when it's all over.

I'm not quite sure Arrested Development got to reach that point in the storyline, which could leave the door open for a return at some point.

Nonetheless, Rotten Tomatoes have it at #19 in their Top 100 Comedy Show list, which I think is just about right. Not as iconic as The Office or Friends for example, but better than a good chunk of what's out there.

So if you've a spare few minutes each night to forget about the woes of the world and get lost in complete jest, Arrested Development will do no harm.

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