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Arrested Development - Season One


TITLE: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT - SEASON ONE


Info:

DVD Release Date: October 19, 2004 (20th Century FOX)
Color
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22 (plus the never-aired extended pilot)
Running time: Approx. 491 Minutes
Audio Tracks: English Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, and French
Closed Captioned
Special Features Include:
Introduction by Ron Howard
3 Audio commentaries on selected episodes
"Breaking Ground: Behind the Scenes of 'Arrested Development'" featurette
Ron Howard's inside look at "Arrested Development"
Deleted/extra scenes from selected episodes
The Museum of Television & Radio cast panel discussion
Original songs by David Schwartz
"'Arrested Development': The Making of a Future Classic" TV Land featurette
"TV Land Awards: The Future Classic Award" featurete
Promo spot
Easter Egg - Tobias outtake


Introduction:

In this critically acclaimed hit sitcom, you'll meet the suddenly penniless, and equally clueless, Bluth family. Accustomed to their wildly affluent lifestyle, they can't seem to grasp the fact that now the head of the family (Jeffrey Tambor) is in the slammer for shifty accounting practices--and he's loving every minute of it. Even worse, since the family assets have been frozen, they may actually have to go out and get jobs! The only one who understands the seriousness of their predicament is Michael (Jason Bateman), who realizes it's up to him to guide his eccentric family into this new chapter of their lives: Chapter 11.

Ron Howard executive produces and narrates the award winning sitcom. Arrested Development won this year's Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy Award and was widely praised as the best new comedy series on TV. It won a total of 5 Emmy Awards including Directing For A Comedy Series, Writing For A Comedy Series, Casting For A Comedy Series, and Single-Camera Picture Editing. The series also garnered a Golden Globe nomination, the presigious TV Land "Future Clasic" award, the AFI Program of the Year (2003), the Critics' Choice Award for Best Comedy and two TCA Awards for Outstanding New Program of the Year and Outstanding Comedy.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

There were so many great episodes, it is hard to choose my favorites. The "Pilot" episode really set the tone and introduces the characters and was one of the best first episodes I've seen for a show. In "Bringing Up Buster," Buster moves in with Michael after their mother kicks him out of her penthouse and a distraught George-Michael realizes he has to kiss a boy in the school play. Lucille is outraged when none of her children show up at her surprise birthday party in "My Mother, The Car." The highest rated episode of the season, and, perhaps, the one most mentioned on fans list of best episodes is "Pier Pressure" in which Buster asks George-Michael to score him some marijuana, and Michael then asks some male "cop" strippers to stage a phony bust to help scare his son straight. The first season was wrapped up nicely with "Let Them Eat Cake," in which after learning that his father is in prision for doing business with the old Iraqi government, Michael decides to wash his hands of the whole family and leave town for good.

Many guest stars made memorable appearances in the first season. Liza Minnelli appeared in a multi-episode arc as Lucille Austero. Henry Winkler appeared in six episodes as the family attorney, Barry Zuckerhorn. Look for a little homage to the Fonz involving a mirror and a comb in one of the episodes. Carl Weathers appeared in two episodes as himself. Heather Graham appeared as ethics teacher Beth Baerly in "Shock and Aww." Amy Poehler appears as Gob's wife in several episodes. She is the real life wife of Will Arnett, who plays Gob. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays blind attorneey Maggie Lizer in "Altar Egos" and "Justce Is Blind."


Packaging:

This three-disc set showcases all 22 episodes from season one. The DVD cover art features a large photo of Jason Bateman in a thinking pose and a photo of the other cast members that is turned upside down near the top of the box. The back of the box features a few photos of the cast and gives a brief summary of the show and a listing of some of the extras. A lineup of the cast is featured on the spine of the box. Three slim cases slide out from the right of the box. Each slim case features a different set of three cast members behind bars. The back of the cases have a few various photos with jail bars over them. They also list the episode titles, original airdates, writing credits, and short summaries on each disc. There is nothing but blank space inside the slim cases. I think it would have been nice if they included some quotes or trivia from the show. Each disc has the Arrested Development logo on it with three cast members pictured. Disc 1 has a white background and features Lucille, George Sr., and Michael and features episodes 1-6 plus the exteneded pilot. Disc 2 has an orange background and pictures Lindsay, Gob, and Tobias and contains episodes 7-14. Disc 3 has a white background and photos of Buster, George Michael, and Maeby and offers episodes 15-22.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are pretty simple, yet effective. They have the theme intro music playing in the background with various clips from the episode playing in two different window boxes (much like you see in the show's opening credits). There are options for Play All, Episode Selection, Language Selection, and Special Features on each disc. The episode sub-menu lists the episode titles and a different photo from each episode is shown as you highlight them. There are chapter stops but no scene selection menus.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality is excellent as you would expect from a show that was just made last year. The episodes were shot with a hand held Panasonic High Definition camera (widescreen 1.78:1) that gives them a documentary film look. The picture looks very sharp and is on par with the HD broadcasts. The audio is in Dolby Surround, but there are no major problems with it and it gets the job done. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are available in the set as well as closed captioning. The episodes are unedited in their original form with running times around 22 minutes. The profanity that is bleeped in the original broadcasts is also bleeped on the DVDs, but the extended pilot features a few words that go unbleeped.


Special Features:

Numerous extras are included that add great value to this set. Each disc contains one episode commentary as well as deleted/extended scenes for selected episodes. Disc 1 has a commentary on the "Extended Pilot" by Series Creator Mitchell Hurwitz, Directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, and actor Jason Bateman. They talk a lot about the technical aspects of how the show is shot. About seven minutes of extra footage is included in this extended pilot that wasn't shown in the pilot that aired on FOX. Disc 2 has a commentary on "Beef Consomme" by Series 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. Disc 3 has a commentary on "Let Them Eat Cake" by the same group that comments on the 2nd disc. These commentaries were fun to listen to as the cast seems like a family and likes to joke around with each other. These commentaries were done before the show won all the Emmy awards, but after they were nominated for them.

There are about 21 minutes of deleted/extended scenes spread out across the 3 discs. Disc 1 has scenes from Top Banana (3 scenes), Bringing Up Buster (3), Key Decisions (3), and Visiting Ours (1). These are narrated by Creator Mitchell Hurtwitz and Editor Steven Sprung. Disc 2 has scenes from My Mother, The Car (6), In God We Trust (3), Storming the Castle (1), Marta Complex (1), Beef Consomme (1), and Shock and Aww (3). These scenes are narrated by Executive Producer Ron Howard, Creator Mitchell Hurwitz, and editors Lee Haxall, and Steven Sprung. Disc 3 has scenes Staff Infection (2), Missing Kitty (1), Altar Egos (1), and Best Man For The Gob (2). These scenes are narrated by Executive Producer Ron Howard, Creator Michtell Hurtwitz, and Editors Lee Haxall, Steven Sprung, and Robert Bramwell. With only 21-22 minutes to work with each week, a lot of funny stuff must end up on the cutting room floor, so it is nice to see some of these scenes on the set.

Disc 1 contains a featurette called "Breaking Ground: Behind the Scenes of 'Arrested Development'". This featurette runs over 16 minutes. Various aspects of the show including the cast, writing, and editing are discussed by many the principal cast members and others involved with the show like Executive Producer Ron Howard, Series Creator/Executive Producer/Writer Mitchell Hurwitz, Composer David Schwartz, and Editors Steven Sprung, Lee Haxall, and Robert Bramwell.

A second bonus on the first disc are the original songs by composer David Schwartz. As a fan and collector of film/tv score music, I was pleasantly surprised that they included these on the set. Sometimes you will see a show soundtrack/score released on CD, so including it on the dvd was a nice bonus. The music, in my opinion, adds a lot to the show. Some of the scenes would just not be the same without the music playing in the background. A total of 28 songs are listed including the show's opening intro theme. Besides the instrumental music, there are several that include vocals by people such as Gabriel Mann and Claire Muldaur. The music is played over a static menu screen.

The second disc includes a 10-minute segment from The Museum of Television & Radio. They had a question and answer session with the cast and creative team of the show on a stage. From what I've read, this was open to the public and may have lasted a hour or two, so to be able to see only 10 minutes of it is a bit disappointing. I would love to see the whole Q&A session available on DVD. There are a couple of featurettes courtesy of TV Land on the third disc. "Arrested Development: The Making of a Future Classic" runs about seven minutes and has the cast and crew disussing how the show is being labeled a classic and how some of the characters on the show compare to those on The Andy Griffith Show. "TV Land Awards - The Future Classic Award" is a four and a half minute segment with the cast going on stage to receive their award. Some Future Classic Award winners from TV Land in the past include American Dreams and Scrubs. Ron Howard offers a sneak peak at season 2 in a segment that runs about a minute and a half. There is really not any new details on the 2nd season given as this segment was probably shot months before they had even started filming for the upcoming season. Finally, there is a 30-second promo spot for the show highlighting some scenes from the first season.


Final Comments:

I have been a fan of Arrested Development since I first saw the previews. I was hooked from the very first episode. The show is so funny, well written, and has a great cast playing quirky chracters. It's my favorite sitcom since Seinfeld ended. I've been a long time fan of Jason Bateman from his early days on Silver Spoons, It's Your Move, and The Hogan Family. He hasn't had much success sitcom wise in recent years, so it's nice to see his talents well used on the show along with a great supporting cast. Ratings were a bit disappointing the first season, but the Sunday 9:30PM slot has never really worked well for FOX. I would expect the show to pick up viewers in the new slot after The Simpsons. FOX clearly believes in the show like NBC had confidence in Seinfeld when it struggled early in its run.

If you haven't seen the show yet, pick up this set and you will fall in love with the show. You will see that it was the best show that you didn't watch last season. If you did watch the show the first season, then this set gives you a chance to relive the first season and pick up on some jokes that you may have missed the first time and some nice extras as well. Watch the 2nd season on FOX beginning November 7th - airing Sundays at 8:30PM ET/PT!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4.8/5
Audio Quality: 4.7/5
Special Features: 4.6/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5.0/5
Overall: 4.7/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 10/28/04

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002PYS7Y/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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