Monday, August 30, 2010

Top 10 T.V. Shows: 3. Arrested Development

Arrested Development is just about the only comedy I'd ever credit with having vision. It is so singular in its execution, so unrivaled, that it leaves every other sitcom in the dust. M*A*S*H, its closest peer on this list, is a Greater show, in relation to its impact and influence, but Arrested Development is the perfect comedy. It exists for no reason but to amuse, and it is astonishingly good at it.

Arrested Development is the modern farce. It never once attempts to preach or to teach, it never tries to make the world a better place by any means other than by simply existing. It aims only to be hysterical. It blends the same range of humour you find in The Simpsons with a strange brand all its own, that's impossible to describe. You just have to experience it.

Across the board, the performances are pitch-perfect. The writing is extraordinary. There's an attention to detail this show has which is individual. When one of the characters auditions for the Blue Man Group, smears of blue paint can be seen all over the sets, quietly sitting in the background for anyone to notice. And they are funny, every time. Familiarity with the material serves to make it better. Arrested Development is funnier the more you watch it, as you notice more things.

It was, of course, under-watched in its time. But its commercial failure was key to its ultimate survival. The last season, when everyone knew the show would be canceled, is the crown jewel. The writers and actors let loose, doing everything they wanted, knowing they'd never have the chance again. Many bemoaned that the greatest show on television was being taken away from us when the news arrived that, yes, Arrested Development was in its death throws. But even those people will admit it was a gift; Arrested Development will forever remain pristine, never given the opportunity to become less than what it was, like The West Wing after Aaron Sorkin left, or like The Simpsons has been doing for the last ten years.

Arrested Development hasn't been as influential as either M*A*S*H or The Simpsons, or many other shows not on this list. And it never will be. It's too unique, and too perfect. No one will ever try this again.

1 comment:

Angie Jane said...

This is one of those rare shows where you can catch "new" jokes or allusions every time you re-watch an episode. "Arrested Development" will never get old, and every nuance of the show is comedy perfection. Nice choice!