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Michael Bluth has had enough and has decided to leave the family with
his son, George Michael, to start a new life and let his dysfunctional
family fall apart without him. This plan is foiled by two things
firstly the realisation that his family haven't noticed him leaving and
secondly the news that his father has escaped from prison and that
Michael himself could now face jail. Returning to the fold, Michael
realises that his place is with the family and the business, even if
day-to-day events tell him otherwise.
Season two of Arrested Development continues with pretty much more of the same and, if you didn't "get" season one then you don't need me to tell you not to bother with this however for those that do like it, knowing that it is "business as normal" is praise indeed. I have heard some people criticising the plot for being essentially a rerun of elements of the first season in its business issues, legal issues and family problems and while they may be correct to a point, I think they are missing something because the plots are nonsense and indeed always have been. I cannot imagine anyone watched season one because, although they didn't find it funny, they wanted to know how it ended. Truth is that the plots are both vitally important but yet also fantastically pointless. You see in essence the plot as it arches over the season doesn't really offer much but, episode to episode, the stories are wonderfully creative affairs that tiptoe along on the right side of the silly/hilarious line.
Minor plot detail are woven into each episodes in ways that delight and thrill. People gush over Curb Your Enthusiasm but yet I always find that even the funniest episodes are quite predictable but with Arrested Development the opposite is true. I find this creativity wonderful to behold and laughed myself silly at the idea of a CD cover of Michael's face made by Gob would be mistaken for him in a still photograph, or that Buster's practice on an arcade game would enable him to rescue a trapped Gob dressed as a banana (but, crucially, lack the skills required to lower him to the ground). I have no idea how you write this stuff even if I had lots of funny concepts/scenarios in my head I doubt I would be able to put them together as well as this.
The humour is strong on this level but again it is the script that makes it so funny. The lines are consistently sharp and imaginative with plenty of quotable lines, repeat gags, visual gags and so on. Each episode zips by as I laugh regularly and hard. I love the running gags of the "sad walk" and of course the dullness of Anne (which produces the best line of the season in "it's as Anne as the nose on plain's face"). On the opposite end of the spectrum are the gags that hit and are gone before you even have time to laugh. As with last season the best example of this is a quickly done "Fonz" moment in the exit of Henry Winkler from one scene by skipping over a dead shark, which is both "blink and you miss it" and utterly hilarious.
With such strong material the cast need to be up to it and they are. Although he has the straightest character, Bateman's timing and delivery is perfect and he carries each show effortlessly. Arnett, Walter, Cera and Hale are as brilliant as before. Cross has great moments in the first half of the season (where the blue marks everywhere are just a great throwaway gag) but I didn't like his "Mrs Doubtfire" stuff later on. Shawkat and de Rossi are not quite as good but it speaks of the quality in writing and acting that even the "lesser" members are very good. Also it says something that the special guest cameos are never as good as the regulars and are quickly forgotten.
This is Arrested Development close to its finish and it is all the more inexplicable because season two is a brilliant delight. The creativity and note-perfect comedy play a very dangerous game; a few misfiring gags and the nonsense of the overall plot and individual scenarios are exposed to the cold light of day as silly/stupid nonsense. As it is though it is relentlessly clever and funny with big laughs coming from background, foreground, dialogue, physical pratfalls, asides, throwaway moments, character and actors. Endlessly hilariously with hardly a misfire across the entire season needless to say I had gone online and ordered season three within an hour of finishing season two.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The season 2 finale The Righteous Brothers won an Emmy for outstanding
comedy writing, gaining recognition as a good end to a fantastic
season. A storyline which could have been difficult to close, the
fugitive George hiding in his family's attic, comes to an end as he's
nearly turned in by his son GOB but breaks free. George flees again,
disguising his twin brother Oscar as himself for the police- something
that will have to be resolved in season 3. Michael and GOB fight over
how to handle the situation, with Michael nearly going to prison for
cooperating with George. And Lindsay realizes her displeasure when her
husband Tobias finds another woman, something Lindsay and Tobias had
already agreed to try.
For a twenty-minute episode, The Righteous Brothers skillfully balances the nine main characters, mindful of how they interact with each other, plus Oscar, Ann, Kitty, Barry and Franklin. The Funke branch of the family is falling apart while George Michael is simultaneously worried about his father and his own crush on his cousin. It's often dysfunctional- Lucille helps break Lindsay's heart and George wants revenge on Oscar for stealing Lucille- but it's got heart, with Will Arnett, in particular, putting a lot of emotion into his performance as GOB. The episode is consistently funny, and does a good job of convincingly handling so many crazy story lines that ran throughout the season.
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