My name is Jonas and I am going to be your guide through this tour de force of Arrested Development. In case you haven’t already heard, Jarrett Haas, one of our fearless leaders here at State-Lines is throwing a Binge Watching of Arrested Development Season Four Party on Memorial Day. According to Jarrett each episode of Season Four will revolve around just one character on the show, but every episode takes place simultaneously on the same day.
A few things you should know: (1) I am not a critic, and (2) I think I may have been slightly inebriated when I agreed to take on this task. Nonetheless, who am I to question the decision making abilities of my inebriated self? Don’t answer that.
Back to me not being a critic. I inhabit that space between knowing too much to enjoy many things and yet also knowing enough to enjoy things that have substance. That is probably why Jarrett asked me to do this job. Jarrett is a critic and he does know too much (thanks for ruining the Star Wars prequels for me btw) – which means that if he feels as strongly about any TV show or movie as much as he does about Arrested Development, then it’s probably really good. Then again, it could be high art that is over normal peoples’ heads. Naaah. . . Jarrett’s not that smart.
For each episode I will give a rating on a scale of 1 – 10, my favorite quote from the episode, followed by a brief recap or review, and lastly a greatness scale. The greatness scale will be my attempt to quantify the episodes significance through analogies or comparisons to other elements of pop culture (i.e. movies, shows, celebrities, athletes, etc. . .).
So without further ado, I give you: “The Great State-Lines Arrested Development Re-Watch (or Watch If You Haven’t Seen It) Fifty-Three Episodes in Forty-Nine Days Culminating In The Jarrett Haas Hosted Binge Watching Party of Season Four Extravaganza”
April 8 The Pilot: Top Banana
Favorite Quote: “Illusion, Michael; a trick is something a whore does for money.”
The show revolves around Michael Bluth, played by Jason Bateman, who is the only sane member in a family of bumbling idiots. It was fun to watch Bateman, and Michael Cera who plays his son “George Michael”, play earlier versions of the characters that I have come to know through their later movies.
The majority of the comedy stems from the fact that every character except for Michael has a severe lacking of self-awareness. Maybe that is the reason the show has not been a universal hit yet maintains such a cult following. There is some old adage out there that goes something to the effect that ‘if you don’t know someone who is [that guy] then you probably are [that guy].’ In this case “that guy” being any one of Michael’s detached-from-reality-relatives. If you are one of the Michael Bluths of the world then you will love the show. If you don’t get the show, then you very well may be some version of one of his family members.
They say the best comedy stems from tragedy. On one level, the tragedy supplied as the backdrop of the show in the pilot episode is the family business being put in turmoil by the fraudulent practices of the patriarch George Bluth Sr., played by “Hey Now” Jeffrey Tambor, who subsequently goes to prison. The real tragedy, however, is that Michael Bluth has to suffer the presence of his insane family, not to mention all while raising a son.
In all honesty I haven’t seen many first episodes, but I’m guessing this one is about as good as it gets. Moreover, I get the feeling this is just a tiny setup for what’s about to come.
Greatness Scale: Phi Slama Jama
Seeing Jason Bateman and Michael Cera reminded me of what it would be like to go back and watch The Phi Slama Jama, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, back when they played for the University of Houston. They burst on the scene of college basketball as underclassmen, making it to the Final Four and then losing in the national championship game the following year. Both went on to have great NBA careers, much like Bateman and Cera have found success in motion pictures. Note, I could have chosen the North Carolina Tarheels team with Michael Jordan and James Worthy, but it would not be a fair comparison. Bateman and Cera are great, but neither are Michael Jordan, and Arrested Development did get cancelled just like Phi Slama Jama fell short of the national championship. The Tarheels team featuring MJ and worthy won the national championship. If that upsets you, take solace in the fact that Phi Slama Jama returned 12 years later on the Houston Rockets and went on to win the championship that year. Arrested Development will have its opportunity to do the same.