So when you’re the head of Fox prime time programming, and you’ve got a television staple like The Simpsons on your Sunday night lineup, and Arrested Development wins the Best Comedy Series Emmy in its first season, what do you do? Well you callously trim the order of episodes from 22 to 18, put The Simpsons as its lead-in without a lot of fanfare, and almost even more egregiously barely hype guest appearances by well-established comic performers like Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Se…nfeld), Ed Begley Jr. (Spinal Tap) and Zach Braff (Scrubs).
And what does the show’s creator Mitchell Hurwitz, whose previous notable TV work included a stint as a writer on Golden Girls do with such a stacked deck? With, after a freshman season that saw 7 Emmy nominations (and 5 wins), the sophomore jinx was virtually nonexistent. Even though the wins were reduced from 5 to 1, the nominations went from 7 to 11, including acting nominations for Jason Bateman (Dodgeball) Jeffrey Tambor (Hill Street Blues) and Jessica Walter (Play Misty For Me).
When last we left the Bluth family, George Sr. (Tambor) managed to escape the hospital (and police) and flee, presumably to Mexico. Michael (Bateman) and George Michael were tired of the family’s antics and were leaving the family, presumably for good. Gob (the incredible Will Arnett, RV) was trying to get a better footing in his magician livelihood and Lindsey and Tobias Funke (Portia de Rossi and David Cross, respectively) were experiencing cracks in their marriage that became fissures as Season Two continued.
The other thing about Season Two is that while some jokes were based on easy material (the “Mission Accomplished” banner and the 2004 election for a couple of things) and other jokes were inside material, everything, and I mean everything, hit a home run. Gold Jerry, gold! This was the first show or movie in a while that I can recall that I will rewatch constantly and always find something new and funny (the name of Gob’s company boat in its full context, for instance). Now some people have said that there’s nothing better than Season One, and few things are, but it’s probably because there are a lot of continuity nods that sitcoms were unfamiliar with, which was perhaps the reason why it didn’t get an audience. With the soon to be released Season Three on DVD soon, along with some syndicated reruns on the G4 network in the fall, perhaps it will light the fires of cult viewership not experienced before, and resurrect the show in some manner or fashion.
Dolby 2 channel surround here, with some usage of the surround effects and rear speakers, but nothing reference quality.
1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, just like the show was aired. After seeing some of Season Three in 1080i, I’m a little spoiled (and will be again when HDNet also does reruns, but this picture is fine.
Just like on Season One, there are audio commentaries on three of the episodes featuring a mix of the cast and crew. Everything is jocular and fun as they joke about the show, before they find out about the ax the next year. There are some deleted scenes to go along with it, and a fairly funny blooper reel (along with David Cross’s thoughts about the lack of mainstream success of the show, something for all of us to take away). There’s an Easter Egg on the “Immaculate Election” episode featuring the campaign videos of Steve Holt, George Michael and the Indian guy, and the inclusions are kitchsy and do the job.
While it’s sad to see Arrested Development off its broadcast run, I’m hoping (and thinking) the reruns will continue long after the show’s initial run, to the point where fans deluge the writers and producers with enough pleas, threats and bodily harm promises to keep the show going in perpetuity. In Season Two, you get the rare experience; where the sequel is as good as (and maybe better than) the original.
Special Features List
- Selected Episode Commentary
- Deleted/Extended Scenes
- Season One overview
- Easter Eggs