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Archive for the ‘Arrested Development’ Category

by Judi

It’s inevitable, really. Think about the percentage of people you meet in your life who are actually quirky, interesting and intelligent. Now subtract that number by about a 1,000. That’s the percentage of a chance that a television show will be thoughtful, fun, razor-sharp, wonderfully weird AND stay on television for more than a year. It’s a grim number but think about who we’re doing battle against- people who enjoy watching shows about obese people racing each other, reality dating experiments and serials with the words “Law & Order” in the title. These people outnumber us and they buy more chips. It’s like 300 out there.

So, the rest of us discerning television viewers go through the same ritual over and over again- we watch a show, we get excited, we become far too emotionally attached, it gets canceled, we bemoan television executives and then we blog about it. So, without further ado…

Top Five Fridays presents The Top Five Short-Lived But Brilliant Shows

5. The Loop (2006-2007)

TheLoopGroup

Haven’t heard of The Loop? Well, now that just makes me sad. The good news for YOU is that WB.com airs free episodes online which means you can watch it. Which means I now need to make an obvious joke about you being, you know, “in the loop” now. But I’m not. Instead, I’m going to introduce you to poor Sam Sullivan (Bret Harrison who mastered looking horrified years ago on Grounded For Life and now does it on The Reaper), a young airline executive who works in a world of crazy. Seriously, after watching what goes on all day with this cast of nutjobs, it’ll be a miracle if you ever go up into a plane again.

What’s so great about the show is that the showrunners allowed for improvisation from their players. An awesome idea, especially considering you’ve got outrageously funny people like Philip Baker Hall, Eric Christian Olsen and Mimi Rogers running around.

4. The Collected Works of Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies)

Bryan Fuller is one of my favorite show creators, though I think someone needs to go over there and give the guy a hug at this point, especially since we only recently lost the wonderfully colorful Pushing Daisies (and Lee Pace from popping up on my television screen every week). Fuller has a penchant for bizarre, otherwordly scenarios for his dramas. Wonderfalls finds a bored grad student working a dead-end job as a sales clerk in a Niagra Falls gift shop, where the animal heads and chotchsky toys actually talk to her about saving the world. Dead Like Me, which I only recently discovered on Netflix and now cherish like a long-lost lamb, follows a girl named George who lived a miserable existence on Earth, only to be crushed by a meteor in the pilot episode and joins a group of Grim Reapers (Inigo Montoya, Whitley Gilbert, Antonia Marchette, and Andrew Jacoby) whose job it is to squat in dead people’s apartments, do drugs and get into trouble while they escort dying souls to the Afterlife. And then there’s Pushing Daisies with piemaker Ned (Pace) who has an odd talent of bringing dead things back to life by touching them, complicating matters when he brings his soul mate Chuck back to life but then can’t touch her because if he does, she’ll be dead again. And none of these shows survived than more than one or two seasons. Really, someone give this guy a hug.

3. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

Ah, yes. Freaks and Geeks. I want it put on the record that my love for Freaks and Geeks is not recent and not due to our nationwide obsession with Judd Apatow and his crew of hilarious man-babies who flood the cast of this high school comedy-drama. I was, in fact, a proud viewer when the series first aired at the dawn of the new millennium and thoroughly crushed when the show was canceled. Back then, at the ripe old age of eighteen, I went through the usual emotions- fury at the close-minded television executives, fury at the herds of TV-viewing SHEEP who preferred to watch OTHER SHOWS instead, fury at God- the usual. Now though, I can’t help wondering how the show would’ve fared if it had lasted longer. It’s so easy to say that it would’ve stayed as brilliant, poignant and funny (albeit I was cringing the entire time to the point of muscle fatigue) but you just don’t know. Like my No. 2 seed, it’s maintained a kind of iconic air, fed mostly by the short span of its run and the fame we later saw in its cast (James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Sweets from Bones).

2. My So-Called Life (1994-1995)

If John Hughes was our teenage voice in the ’80s, then Angela Chase was our girl for the ’90s. So was Rayanne, Ricky, Jordan Catalano, Sharon and poor, sad be-froed Brian Crackow. I can say with absolute certainty that if you’re looking for a video diary of what it’s like to be a teenager, you need only witness every scene where Angela squirms at the dinner table under a curtain of dyed red hair or when she explains how just the sound of her mother’s voice makes her want to scream (it helps how amazingly cast Patty Chase was in Bess Armstrong- the quintessential well-meaning Mom whose patronizing tone really did make us all want to scream).

The show now serves as a kind of mid-90’s time capsule, sure, but it’s also still incredibly resonant. There’s a reason why we miss it, why we refer to it so often and covet our DVD/VHS collections of it.

1. Arrested Development (2003-2006)

Ok, yes Arrested Development made it to three seasons and a little more than 50 episodes. But clearly it felt much shorter than that, given the rabid fan base, the petitions, the movie that gets talked about whenever one or more nerds come together to speak its name. We miss the Bluths, who turned family dysfunction to a spectacular art form. We miss the cast (Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, David Cross, Portia deRossi, Will Arnett and Michael Cera to name a few). We miss Ron Howard’s “Next time” previews. We miss Lucille and Buster and Lucille Two. We miss Steve Holt! My Name is Judge. The chicken dancing- “Has anyone in this family actually ever seen a chicken?” Hell, I even miss the Fake Saddams.

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by Beal

1133167644_LindsayShow:  Arrested Development

Character: Lindsay Bluth Funke

Actress: Portia de Rossi

Basically: Initially we believe Lindsay to be Michael Bluth’s twin sister (we find out in season three that she’s not only adopted, but three years older than Michael–making her 40–and that she was adopted only to spite the Bluth’s business rival, Stan Sitwell). To describe her parents as inattentive would be an understatement, but in efforts to gain their attention and to rebel, Lindsay marries Tobias Funke (David Cross) an “analrapist” (analyst/therapist) who is a nevernude pursuing a career in acting. Lindsay is the mother to Maeby Funke (Alia Shawkat), and pays little if any attention to her. Lindsay seems a bit of a lush, and although she pretends to be a liberal activist is essentially just interested in hosting the lavish parties associated with charity work. She’s about as deep as a puddle, but superficiality suits her well. She’s attractive, but fails at any attempt to be promiscuous. 

Check Portia Out In: Well, I guess any event that wife Ellen DeGeneres is involved,  in the new ABC sitcom Better Off Ted or as Nell Porter in Ally McBeal, which like it or not, was a really funny show. Oh and if there is a god (or anyone with a lick of sense working as an entertainment executive) in the upcoming Arrested Development movie.

To Know is to Love: Lindsay Bluth’s the kind of person you’d hate to know, but you love to watch. Her superficiality is more akin to extreme narcissism, and everything about her life is totally dysfunctional–relationships, career, family. I would love to have seen this character develop past three seasons (movie, fingers crossed) but props to Portia for making a beautiful cold and heartless bitch seem lovable. 

Favorites Moments: Lindsay, who has shown zero concern over her father’s recent incarceration, becomes extremely upset when she visits him in prison–not because her own father is in prison, but because the other inmates, whom she hoped would react rowdily to her presence, pay her no attention. She visits several more times, in increasingly slutty attire. She finally bonds with her somewhat estranged father when he asks her to quit visiting, because he has been paying the other inmates to behave in her presence, which is bankrupting his black market prison funds, which he needs to ward off stabbers and rapists.  Or how about when it’s easier for Lindsay to claim that she is shoplifting from a department store, than it is to admit that she is actually an employee there. How completely degrading/hilarious. Also the time when Lucille and Lindsay get trashed at the Country Club their family can no longer afford. 

YouTube is sadly lacking in great Lindsay Bluth Funke clips as well as Arrested Development clips. Apparently this show’s creators have enough self-respect to prevent copyright infringement of their show. Or maybe the fan-base is less technologically savvy than that of say, Gossip Girl, which is pathetic.

This clip, although not my favorite, at least features Lindsay at her most basic. Please enjoy:

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by Judi

maryann Show: Cybil

Character: Maryann Thorpe

Played By: Christine Baranski

In a Nutshell: Maryann is Cybil (Cybil Shephard)’s best friend, a rich woman made only richer by her alimony checks from her ex-husband, who abruptly dumped her, earning himself the nickname Dr. Dick. Maryann loves drinking, shopping, and excels in The Art of the Prank, usually using her considerable talents to torment her ex-husband by ruining his dinner parties, dates and even his wedding. Terrible at men and dating, going so far as to drive away that guy from Newsradio by buying him six pairs of shoes after one date.

You Might Also Like: Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, Edward from Dharma & Greg, Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development.

Why I Love Maryann (Essay Portion)

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Cybil here at TV HQ. The discovery of the defunct sitcom on Lifetime in the wee hours has prompted marathon viewings and ridiculous text-conversations between myself and Beal. The show has proved to be so much better than we remember that I’m not exaggerating when I say we will probably gobble up all 89 episodes more than once before this little phase is over.

Maryann, and Baranski, is key to the show’s success. Gone are the days when a character could booze it up on prime time and still be completely lovable. Now we have to temper such actions with words like “rehab” and “intervention.” Perhaps my favorite part of Maryann and Cybil’s relationship is the way Cybil embraces the fact that Maryann is basically crazy, even going so far as to use it to her advantage.  She encourages her drinking, begs her to do things like help her pull a pig out of a muddy canyon and destroy her rival Morgan Fairchild’s wedding and Maryann complies happily, with a martini in her hand and a bag of hot peppers in her purse.

Who else would think an appropriate seduction technique involves a little Bo Peep costume? Who else would crawl through an AC vent to plant stinky cheese and ruin Dr. Dick’s first party since the divorce? Who else would watch her best friend’s teenage daughter perpetuate a ridiculous charade involving a fake boyfriend only to murmur to herself, “She’s coming along nicely.”

Favorite Moment: Maryann walks into the Country Western establishment, clearly out of her element, Chanel suit and all. “Oh, look. A BAR.”

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