HTF REVIEW: Arrested Development - Season One

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Michael Osadciw, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
    SEASON ONE





    Studio: 20th Century Fox Television
    Air Date: 2003 - 2004

    U.S. Rating: NR
    Canadian Rating: NR

    Total Disc Length: 491 minutes
    Genre: Comedy

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.78:1 widescreen enhanced
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 3.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $39.98






    Release Date: October 19, 2004



    Show Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth), Portia de Rossi (Lindsay Bluth Fûnke), Will Arnett (George Oscar “Gob” Bluth), Michael Cera (George-Michael Bluth), Alia Shawkat (Mae “Maeby” Fûnke), Tony Hale (Byron “Buster” Bluth), David Cross (Tobias Fûnke), Jeffrey Tambor (George Bluth Sr./Oscar Bluth), Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth)


    Created by: Mitchell Hurwitz



    Welcome to reality-sitcom: when reality TV really isn’t reality, but scripted instead. But that’s okay – it’s more entertaining, it’s funny and witty, and much more entertaining! The star of Arrested Development is Michael Bluth. He wants nothing more in life than to run his father’s housing development business. He is one of four siblings in the family - he’s smart and sensible, and is business-minded and overly qualified to take his father’s wealthy business into his hands. He is contrasted to the rest of them who are lazy, unqualified, or too freakin’ weird to take a serious position in the company, or any other job for that matter. All but Michael, (including Michael’s mother) have been digging deep into the business coffers and spending it without any accountability or remorse. Michael plans to change this once his father announces who will take his place when he steps down.

    Unfortunately for Michael, this doesn’t happen. The pilot episode begins at this point in time. Michael is distraught to see his irresponsible mother next in line and he doesn’t see his father’s reasoning in his choice. But maybe his father has a bigger plan in mind after all – the feds are after the business for tax evasion so there is plenty of trouble ahead. In any case, he chooses to leave his family for a job out of state until he is persuaded by them to stay and help run the business. Only at the end do they ask Michael, once the family realizes they aren’t qualified to operate the business. With sarcastic delight he agrees to stay and help. Michael’s job in the remainder of the season is to run the business and to keep his “abnormal” family together.

    Produced by Director Ron Howard, this is a hilarious sitcom sans the laugh track. The characters are personal and very strange too. Some are so strange in fact that they make the show. The feeling of discomfort between family members is highly apparent, I felt as if I were in the family myself! If you’ve never seen an episode on TV, I’d advise you to pick this 3-disc set up.

    The pilot episode is shown in its aired form and a creator’s cut, the latter containing an additional 7 minutes of scenes and course language not on broadcast TV.

    Episodes are as follows:

    DISC 1: Episodes
    [*]Creator's Cut Pilot (unaired)[*]Pilot[*]Top Banana[*]Bringing Up Buster[*]Key Decisions[*]Visiting Ours[*]Charity Drive

    DISC 2: Episodes
    [*]My Mother the Car[*]In God We Trust[*]Storming the Castle[*]Pier Pressure[*]Public Relations[*]Marta Complex[*]Beef Consomme[*]Shock and Aww

    DISC 3: Episodes
    [*]Staff Infection[*]Missing Kitty[*]Altar Egos[*]Justice is Blind[*]Best Man for the Gob[*]Whistler's Mother[*]Not Without My Daughter[*]Let Them Eat Cake


    VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Arrested Development was shot using High Definition video cameras in a ‘reality TV’ POV style. Watching the show is somewhat of a head-bobbing experience while trying to follow the action on screen. While all episodes are like this, it is never fatiguing – and for those of you who are used to watching reality TV everyday, this show is a piece of cake.

    The video quality presented on this disc has been down converted to standard definition. The resulting picture on the DVD is pleasing exhibiting an eye-popping picture that is much defined. I can only imagine how good the High Definition video would look on and HD disc medium. Colours look great and white portions of the picture stand out from black mimicking contrast levels close to reality. Thankfully edge enhancement/ghosting and compression artefacts are rarely noticed in this pleasing DVD transfer.


    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The audio for Season One is satisfactory. As expected, this Dolby Surround 3.0 soundtrack is center-channel biased with mostly music spread across the front soundstage. I was surprised to hear LF/RF having a lot of bass for those music sequences. It gave my subwoofers a nice tight workout. Surround ambience is very subtle. I could barely detect much coming from the surround channels. Interestingly, the pilot episode has a lot of distortion and noise around the dialogue in the center speaker. Much of it could have been taken directly from the actors while on the set because it’s tonal quality is very different from the remainder of the series which sounds more closely mic’d (or ADR?).


    SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    All three discs have a boatload of special features. Disc one has an Introduction by Ron Howard and a commentary on the extended pilot with creator Mitchell Hurwitz, directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo and actor Jason Bateman. Also included are a wealth of deleted and extended scenes for “Top Banana”, “Bringing Up Buster”, “Key Decisions” and “Visiting Ours”. They are presented in 4:3 and in DD2.0 and don’t look nearly as good as the episodes themselves. The scenes are narrated by Mitchell Hurwitz and editor Steven Sprung. Some scenes are funny, and of course there are others that just should have been cut. Next is an approximately 15 minute documentary titled Breaking Ground: Behind the Scenes of Arrested Development. It explores the origins of the show and contains interviews with the creators, actors, and gives examples of screen tests and editing. Very interesting. Lastly, disc one features all of the original songs by David Schwartz. There are 28 songs containing audio only and are played back in Dolby Digital 2.0. They aren’t very long, each musical short lasting between 3 seconds up to a minute and a half.

    Disc 2 contains a commentary on the episode “Beef Consomme” by creator Mitchell Hurwitz and actors Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, and David Cross. While sometimes they have something important to say, they mostly laugh through the show as they watch it. I’ve spent my time better…

    As in the first disc, there are plenty of deleted and extended scenes for “My Mother the Car”, “In God We Trust”, “Storming the Castle”, “Marta Complex”, “Beef Consomme” and “Shock and Aww”. They are shown to us in the same form as on disc one with narration by Ron Howard, Mitchell Hurwitz and editors Lee Haxall and Steven Sprung.

    The last feature on this disc is a lengthy piece from The Museum of Television & Radio. It’s a Q&A with Creator Mitchell Hurwitz and the cast of Arrested Development. Audience members are encouraged to ask the cast and creators (who are sitting on stage) questions about the show. Frankly, I’m not sure why this took place or who went to see it, but sure enough it is included on this disc.

    Even though I didn’t receive disc three for screening, this disc contains a commentary by creator Mitchell Hurwitz and actors Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, and David Cross on the episode “Let Them Eat Cake”. There are deleted and extended scenes for episodes “Staff Infection”, “Missing Kitty”, “Altar Egos” and “Best Man for the Gob”. There are two TV Land specials - Arrested Development: The Making of a Future Classic and TV Land Awards - The Future Classic Award. Ron Howard also gives us a sneak peek of Arrested Development: Season 2. Finally, there is an Arrested Development Promo Blind(?) and an Easter Egg of a Tobias Outtake.


    IN THE END…

    For those of you who want to break away from the tradition sitcom structure and who are obsessed with reality TV, Arrested Development is for you. For those of you who just can’t stand reality TV (like me, who prefers to watch my reality life than someone else’s), this show is a refresher to what is typically on the tube. Directed to a more mature audience, adults will certainly sympathize with Michael’s struggles in keeping his family together and the business afloat. We can all relate to at least one character on the show, after all, even scripted shows are based on our everyday reality life.

    Michael Osadciw
    04.10.24
     
  2. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the review, Michael!

    I heard the critics loved this show, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I picked this thing up on Tuesday and have been blazing through it. I have 3 episodes left. It's very funny and the cast is great. I usually don't laugh out loud during most sitcoms, but this one really has me rolling. Luckily the new season starts in a couple of weeks, but I may hold off for a year and watch the second season box set. I can't tell you how enjoyable it is to watch this show in widescreen without commercials, pop-up promos and network bugs. It's definately a cut above the usual sitcom dreck and if you haven't seen it, I recommend you give it a try.

    Ric
     
  3. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Geez, you use the term "reality TV" a lot in this review. When the show premiered last year, the term used was "documentary-style", which I think is more accurate - most of the unscripted shows I've watched are shot to look like a single-camera drama, and look much more polished than Arrested Development (which does use its documentary look very well).
     
  4. Dane Marvin

    Dane Marvin Screenwriter

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    Best DVD value of the year as far as box sets go, especially during sale week last week. Of course, Lord of the Rings ROTK: EE will top that just before the year is out. [​IMG]
     
  5. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    The whites in the video looked a little hot at times, though never overly so. It looks as if it was composed with 4:3 in mind, and the framing looks fine zoomed into 4:3 from 16:9, so this is one case where I wouldn't mind zooming in, though I prefer to watch it letterboxed.
     
  6. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    Well, the creator and directors say on the extended commentary track (which is the only one of the three commentary tracks I really enjoyed; the cast commentaries were, as cast commentaries tend to be, uninformative) that the inspiration for the style of the show was reality TV. "Documentary-style" is a description that works too, but the feel of the show to me is much more like a parody of reality programs; it's as though we were watching a reality series about a rich family that lost everything.
     
  7. Aryn Leroux

    Aryn Leroux Screenwriter

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    This is hands down the best blind buy i have ever made. I can't say enough good things about this show. I finished the set allready and can't wait to watch it again. That says alot!

    I will be sure to tune in to the 2nd season when it starts in a couple weeks. FOX sure does run there tv promos alot. I keep seeing the ad with george michael sitting on his dads lap driving the car. Too Funny!

    Thanks to everyone that convinced me to buy this!
     
  8. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    The one example of the camera being acknowledged in the show I have noticed so far is in the Beef Consommè episode at the hearing when the judge says that he does not allow cameras, and we see the camera tilt down and the next shot is from the POV of behind the court doors.
     
  9. John Carr

    John Carr Stunt Coordinator

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    This was a blind buy for me, too, based on the great reviews I saw here at Home Theater Forum and at TVshowsOnDVD.com. Thanks guys!

    I was surpised at how funny this show was. The writing is excellent and the cast top notch. Can't wait to see what direction it takes in the 2nd season. I hope that Fox's publicty effort pays off and that the the show draws enough audience for more seasons beyond #2. Although, as good as it is, I'm surpised Arrested Development didn't get the axe!!!

    I suspect that having Ron Howard on board probably didn't hurt.

    My wife was determined to dislike the show, but it won her over by the end of the first disc. Now, it's one of her favorites, too!
     
  10. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    In a strange move for me (because I rarely invest the time to watch a TV show), I will be eagerly awaiting Season 2 as well!

    Michael
     
  11. Steve_Knutzen

    Steve_Knutzen Screenwriter

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    Awesome to hear so many of you discovering this show on DVD and loving it. Hopefully this bodes well for the viwership of the new season and *crosses fingers* future seasons.
     
  12. Eric F

    Eric F Screenwriter

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    Fox will be showing S2 in HD.
     
  13. Jeff*H

    Jeff*H Supporting Actor

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    Count myself and my wife in as new fans, as I purchased this last week at Costco for $25 on a blind buy--it was worth every penny!
    I knew that the critics had loved this show, but I never checked it out last season as I felt that virtually all of network television was a wasteland devoid of originality and filled more and more with commercials.
    Then the Emmys came along, and AD's win for Best Comedy won me over, and I knew I needed to buy this set. It's hard to tell what my favorite episode is, as there are so many good ones. There's rarely a clunker in the bunch. In fact, I think the show keeps getting better as it progresses through the season, as the characters develop and the show's rhythms gel better. The cast is fantastic, thank God there is no laughtrack (or commercials), it looks fantastic on an HD TV set, and I certainly will be checking out the second season, and telling all my friends about it.

    Thanks to "Arrested Development", along with "Lost" and "Boston Legal" and "Desperate Housewives", network television is actually worth watching again. What a difference a year makes!
     
  14. Matt_C_A

    Matt_C_A Auditioning

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    I didn't watch Arrested Development's first season when it aired because Sunday at 9:30 was a bad time for me, but I picked up this set without hesitation based on the glowing reviews of critics and friends. No regrets. I'm now a fan for life. This is one of the funniest, smartest, most immaculately produced comedies in existence. No exaggeration. And this DVD set is terrific.

    (If you're a fan of Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, you will probably like Arrested Development. Like those shows, AD has a similiar circular story structure, where plot points at the beginning of the show pay off as gags at the end. As someone on the DVD extras said, it's like telling the punch line before the joke. This sort-of non-linear style really ups the rewatchability factor. ... That's just one of the many ways Arrested Development is different from other comedies on TV.)

    There *are* two minor annoyances I have with the set. The first is the strange appearances of some "PRESENTED IN WIDESCREEN, HIGH DEFITION" logo that pops up in two episodes. (The TV 14 logo also shows up once.) Otherwise, the video is excellent.

    The second annoyance is the Museum of TV and Radio panel, which has been edited down to ten minutes. There was probably a lot of good stuff here that would have been more informative than extras like the TV Land and Promo Blind spots. But like I said, those are minor annoyances. Fox really did a good job with this set. I'm especially keen on the 24 minutes of David Schwartz's music. ("All you need is smiles... Hey, smile.")


    This panel was part of the Museum of TV and Radio's William S. Paley Festival. Some of the panels last year were Joan of Arcadia, The O.C., The Wire, Smallville, and Carnivale. The panels are open to the public, although I believe tickets are for sold first to Museum of TV and Radio members.

    (If you go to google and type in "William S Paley Festival 2004" the first link should be the schedule for last year. See what you missed.)

    It's actually not a lengthy piece, as you said in your review. I know that the panels on the Freaks and Geeks (yearbook ed.), Strangers with Candy (season two), and Buffy (season six) DVD sets are 50-60 minutes. Those have probably been edited too. The Carnivale panel will be included on that DVD set in December. (I hope it's longer than 10 minutes!) I also think the cast of Angel did a panel, and I'm hoping that will be included on the season 5 DVDs.
     
  15. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    I either missed a few episodes or FOX never showed them because there were three episodes I never saw before. Season 2 can't come quick enough for me.
     
  16. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    I also did a blind buy on this. I’ve seen 2 episodes and I can’t say that I’ve really warmed up to the show. Also the video look is very distracting to me. It’s very distinctive! Does this mean that all the sitcoms that I have seen before were shot on film? I just can’t help it! I don’t like the video look of the show.
     
  17. EricSchulz

    EricSchulz Producer

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    I just rented this over the past weekend...I was hooked after the first episode. Think I need to get this one on my Xmas list!
     
  18. Steve_Knutzen

    Steve_Knutzen Screenwriter

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    Somebody on another forum said something about an easter egg commentary. Can anybody confirm this and tell how to access it?
     
  19. Britton

    Britton Supporting Actor

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    Ah, made it all the way through the set. I already need another fix.

    By the way, I was wondering if anyone else has noticed a weird video glitch at the 25-26 second mark on episode 7 of disc 3 "Not Without My Daughter". It appears that the frame jumps up and down real fast right after the camera view switches to the close shot of Michael on the staircase. I'm just paranoid that it's just on defect (albeit a VERY minor one) with my set.
     
  20. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    I did a blind buy as well, went through 1 disc per sitting. Terrific show with a great cast and great writing. Along with Curb your Enthusiasm this is far and away the funniest show on TV. It hasn’t even started to air in Australia yet, hopefully they will play S2 straight after the first one. GOB is now my favourite character on television.

    “Michael, you can do the right thing for this family. Now string this blind woman along so Dad won’t have to pay his debt to society. [​IMG]
     

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