For three amazing seasons, Fox’s Arrested Development brought a fresh and intelligent new brand of comedy to our television screens. The show told the story of the dysfunctional and wealthy Bluth family. The patriarch George Sr (Jeffrey Tambor) was imprisoned for fraud, leaving the running of his company to his son Michael (Jason Bateman), who has to constantly try to fend off the rest of his insane family all trying to maintain their lavish lifestyle without actually doing any work.
This documentary looks back on the genius that was Arrested Development, talking to most of the show’s principal cast members, guest stars, and producers. At the center of the documentary is show creator Mitchell Hurwitz, who provides a lot of the insight of how Arrested Development came into existence, its cursed run, and ultimate cancellation. Throughout the piece, it’s clear that the entire cast and crew were enormous fans of the series, and just as heartbroken by its disappearance as we were on this side of the TV.
The documentary also interviews some 200 different Arrested Development fans to gain their insight into why the show was so effective. They even interview a bunch of people who have never heard of the series – I guess to give it that well-rounded feel. It gives the documentary a great energy to see real fans enthusiastically praising and supporting the show, while of course reenacting their favorite moments from the series.
There are so many interesting things about this documentary. I learned a lot about a series I already respected so much. It turns out that virtually none of the series was improvised even though it definitely has that feel, and several of the cast members mentioned that that is the most frequent question they get. Turns out it’s just really good, naturalistic writing that feels like it’s on the spot. It also turns out that that level of writing takes a lot of time, and Hurwitz is bashed repeatedly in this documentary for being chronically late with getting his scripts in. Though, the crew admits that having a shorter production time did help give the show it’s fantastic energy, and of course the quality of the scripts was top notch.
Probably my favorite thing about this project is that the film uses no clips from the series. I thought that was an interesting choice, and can’t say I would have done the same thing in their position, but I really liked it. It felt less formal; like we were all attending a massive panel on Arrested Development, where everyone was talking about what they loved about the show and everyone else was patiently waiting for them to finish so they could maybe jump in next with another great tidbit about the show’s history and impact.
Now, with new episodes of Arrested Development set to air on Netflix later this month, rumors of a movie have come on stronger than ever, and it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the Bluths will appear on the big screen in the next couple of years. Assuming the long-awaited fourth season does as well as everyone expects, and with Fox out of the picture as far as any decision-making goes, Arrested Development could continue to produce new content for the foreseeable future.
Available now on demand from Filmbuff Entertainment.