People who know me claim (erroneously), that I’m prone to hyperbole, which is ridiculous. However, I do want to make this one, modest claim:
Arrested Development is the funniest show in the history of all television.
I kid you not. It’s redefined comedy for me. I want to take this moment to apologize for not watching it when it was on. I’ve made a huge mistake.
I just finished watching the entire series on Hulu. I started three months or so ago, and worked through every one of the 53 episodes, finishing up tonight. I’m so sad that it’s over, but so happy I finished it.
Here’s what made it so utterly brilliant.
The intricacy of the plotting within episodes. Episodes would begin with a bunch of random gags, only to have them all come together 20 minutes later in some massive orgasm of comedy.
The intricacy of the plotting between episodes. Characters and situations would come back again and again. Gags would sometimes be set-up many, many episodes before they were finally delivered. The bits about Annyong and Ann towards the end of the series were just brilliant.
The in-jokes. The chicken dance (“Has anyone in this family ever actually seen a chicken?”), “I’ve made a huge mistake,” Gob’s use of “The Final Countdown,” etc. There’s a good list here.
“Intertextuality and reflexivity” as Wikipedia calls it. I couldn’t put my finger on this, and I can’t really explain it, so go read their description. It’s kind of a subtle, indirect breaking of the fourth wall in a holistic sense.
The guest stars. What other series could bring Carl Weathers in for a couple episodes and make it funny as hell? Mixing Judge Reinhold with William Hung? Richard Belzer as both himself and Detective Munch on different episodes? Zach Braff, Charlize Theron, Amy Poehler, Henry Winkler, Scott Baio – it became obvious that guesting on the show was the “in” thing to do.
Ron Howard’s narration. He was especially funny when acted self-aware about the series and his role in it.
The acting – it was pitch perfect. There was no weak spot in the entire cast.
Do yourself a favor – go over to Hulu and just start watching. Without commercials and the end credits, episodes are only about 20 minutes, so it’s not a huge time commitment.
The very first episode will hook you just as soon as Lindsey sees some guy on the gay protest boat wearing a blouse like hers and you find out how it got there. Trust me on this.