In its latest issue, The New Yorker reviews quirky TV phenom Arrested Development. Loving it!
There’s a sense of loopy serendipity about Fox’s new half-hour comedy “Arrested Development,” which premiered on November 2nd. It’s the kind of show you want to tell everyone about and yet keep to yourself—if the network finds out how good it is, it may get cancelled. The show is about a family of misfits, ne’er-do-wells, and lawbreakers; the title refers both to the arrest of the patriarch, George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor), a housing developer, at the beginning of the first episode, and to the stunted psyches of most of the family members.
The arrest takes place on a party boat, where George’s family is throwing him a retirement bash, and where the one “normal” person in the family, George’s son Michael (Jason Bateman), expects to be told that he is being made head of the family business, partly because he, unlike his siblings, actually works there and partly because he’s the only one who hasn’t been ripping the company off. Set in Orange County, California—the show is suffused with the same moneyed sunshine and materialism that fuel the earnest, soapy Fox hit “The O.C.,” and it, too, concerns a character who has engaged in large-scale financial fraud—“Arrested Development” has an energetic, seat-of-the-pants style, which gives its absurdities an air of realism. (It’s not a one-camera show, but it feels like it.)
The camera functions as a silent character, with a distinct personality and sense of humor. It doesn’t dwell anywhere for long, and it makes a lot of good throwaway visual jokes; this light-footedness gives the show a spontaneous and unscripted quality. (It is written by Mitchell Hurwitz, who is an executive producer, too, as are Brian Grazer and Ron Howard; Howard, who provides a voice-over, is also the show’s omniscient narrator.)