Arrested Development, the story of a family going through trying times, is the comedian’s comedy. Jokes come at you at every angle. Some are sight gags, some are puns, some are jokes on pop culture, some are jokes on absurdly obscure references, some are all of them at once. Often, a punchline won’t be delivered to a joke for several episodes. This is why the show did terribly when it was on television, honestly. It takes at least 3 viewings per episode to get even the majority of the jokes. Sometimes you will overhear a fact or piece of pop-culture trivia in real life, and suddenly get a joke on Arrested Development. Fox never understood this. Netflix did, and let us all be glad Netflix paid to continue the show and hope they allow for the other scripted movie and additional season the team is looking for.
“Development Arrested” was the original finale of Arrested Development. In the episode before that, most of the plotlines in the show had been wrapped up, allowing the Bluth family to go back to normal-ish. Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the main character (of the first 3 seasons), has finally gotten the charges against his father dismissed, and the family business is starting to turn around (Jim Cramer moves it from “Don’t Buy” to “Risky”). If this was a normal show, we might have just seen a wrap-up and a send-off (the show even teases it by having the episode start in a mirror of the scene at the start of the series), but Arrested Development refused to go out like that. After all, they had some jokes they’d set up in Season 1 that still had punchlines waiting to drop.
At the beginning of the series, the SEC showed up on their boats (yes, they have boats) to arrest George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor), the Bluth patriarch, on charges of both embezzlement and treason. As it turns out, George’s charges were largely fraudulent, as he had been working for the U.S. government to spy on Saddam Hussein (who we didn’t actually catch, just his impersonator). However, the embezzlement charges had some merit… it just happens that they picked the wrong Bluth. It turns out that Lucille (Jessica Walter), George’s wife, and the mother of the family, was the one actually behind most of the shady business deals. She is ratted out by her adopted Korean son Annyong (Hello in Korean)(Justin Lee) who reveals his true name as Hal-loh (get it?). He had been a mole on the Bluth family for his entire run on the show, in order to get revenge on behalf of his Grandfather, whom Lucille had ruined by deporting to Korea. Believe me when I say, all of these twists were hinted at a full season, or more, in advance (for example, Annyong wears a t-shirt that has a mole on it in the beginning of the 2nd Season). The show ends with Michael running away from his family, Lucille stealing the ship The Queen Mary, powered by male strippers, and running from the SEC. The epilogue shows the series being pitched to Ron Howard (the narrator of the series), who suggests they make a movie out of it.
It was a sad ending, because the show really hadn’t dropped at all in quality, it just wasn’t meant for television (especially with Fox’s complete lack of faith in shows that take time to build an audience *cough* Firefly, Family Guy, John Doe, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, Futurama *cough*). Hopefully Netflix will allow it to keep going now that they’ve revived it, because the last season, while not having any particularly mind-blowing episodes, was the epitome of what Arrested Development was about – A show that requires an investment, but has a huge humor ROI.
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