TV Review: Arrested Development – Season Three

It's the final re-view! Dee-dee-do, de-de-de-doo...

Arrested Development Season Three

Starring: Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter

Series Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz

The third and final season of Arrested Development is both fantastic and bitter-sweet. Bitter-sweet because it is far too short (13 episodes long), and, most likely, the last new content I will see of the Bluth family (I’m not getting my hopes up for a movie). However, I’m not devastated by the fact that there is only 2.5 seasons of this show for me to re-live, but instead, grateful that such a series ever existed.

The truth of the matter is that a show like Arrested Development was never going to reach an audience large enough to allow it to survive on network television. If it were the type of sitcom to reach the masses, then it wouldn’t be the type of sitcom that those who love it would embrace as wholeheartedly as they do. It requires far too much of the average sitcom-watcher, with tonnes of in-jokes, recalls, and continuity jokes. Far better for it to burn brightly for 2.5 seasons (which is probably a half season longer than its ratings called for, so there’s that to be grateful for as well), than for it to sell out its aesthetic and comedic principles in order to reach an audience large enough for it to continue.

Instead of watering itself down in its third season to increase its paltry ratings, the show got even more brutal in its all-out assault on family decency, more exclusive in its call-backs and continuity humour, and even thumbed its nose at those who said it was too inaccessible and its characters too unrelatable in its “S.O.B.s” episode (a brilliant in-joke of an episode that parodied the gimmicks other lesser shows use to grab ratings that might be my favourite of the season).

In past season reviews, I’ve sung the praises of Will Arnett‘s GOB, who continues to be hilarious this season, Jeffrey Tambor‘s George Bluth Sr., who finds new material while under house arrest, and star Jason Bateman‘s anchoring presence as Michael Bluth. For this season, I’ll single out Michael Cera‘s brilliantly awkward performance as George Michael Bluth. Cera was an MVP this season, stealing almost every scene he was in with stealth humour, staying within himself while the rest of the cast brought an excess of zany. Also overlooked is Jessica Walter‘s Lucille Bluth, who nails every scene she’s in, saying and doing horrific things without ever playing them up for laughs (well, except the time when she, George Sr, and Portia de Rossi‘s Lindsay Bluth Fünke did a collaborative chicken dance… which was awesome).

As for this season, I did find that it was a little slow getting off the ground to start, with Charlize Theron‘s recurring role storyline taking a little while to pay off. The episodes were still pretty funny, but it felt a little off. But, just when it was getting a little too awkward, the show delivered with some huge laughs (kicked off with Ron Howard‘s narrator breaking character… I nearly killed myself laughing with that). It kept rolling from there, delivering some great episodes, and a truly satisfying final episode, which wrapped things up pretty well, especially for a mid-season cancellation.

This season leaves us with 53 of the funniest episodes of television of any series ever. It is a series perfect for DVD, allowing you to easily catch them all, follow their interweaving storylines and smartly-followed continuity, and the series can continue reaching audiences without having reached the magic 100 episodes needed for syndication. So, if you’re into zany-yet-brainy comedies, and you haven’t yet caught Arrested Development, I implore you to do so. Immediately. I personally know no one who has seen the show and doesn’t love it.

4.5/5

Related:

Arrested Development – Season One
Arrested Development – Season Two
Greg the Bunny – The Complete Series

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