Something that just hit me about Arrested Development…

So, in Arrested Development, there’s a running gag where Oscar keeps going to jail for his identical twin George’s crimes.

So… the poor man whose worst actual crime is marijuana possession goes to jail for extended periods. The rich man who committed massive-scale fraud and sold out his country to make a buck barely sees the inside of a cell.

So… just like real life, in other words.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Blutherhood

One of the other commenters on Mark Watches Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, who goes by rin-chan-san on Tumblr, created some truly hilarious screencaps combining images from FMA with dialogue from Arrested Development. My personal favorite:

But there are loads of other good ones.

Manatees with Memories

Okay, yes, I’m watching Arrested Development and Supernatural for the first time. It’s 2003 in my house. It’s awful; Bush is still President, everybody’s getting shipped off to war, and Fullmetal Alchemist is a dark, cynical series with an absolutely terrible left-field final twist and a seriously small-potatoes villain.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten into the second season I’ve noticed something interesting the show does structurally. Much like Family Guy and the comedies it inspired, it relies heavily on cutaway gags, but where most of the cutaways in Family Guy and its ilk are non sequiturs, in Arrested Development they are quite frequently references to past episodes.

This is a very interesting way to use the growing emphasis on continuity in American television (which is largely a product of the increasing availability and accessibility of archives of past episodes via first home video, then DVD, and especially the rise of on-demand streaming services). Most reference-heavy shows use references to past episodes to enhance the appearance of dramatic unity (not quite in the Aristotelian sense, but close enough) and reward dedicated viewing, but Arrested Development does something quite different. By using them as cutaway gags, which by their nature are disruptive and jarring, the references simultaneously create an appearance of dramatic unity to reward dedicated viewers, while also creating a non sequitur joke to amuse more casual viewers who don’t catch the reference.

It’s honestly quite a clever way to combine current fads in both dramatic and comedic television to get something that feels fresh and original. I can see why people made a big deal about this show, and why it’s still remembered so fondly a decade later.

I have been watching the Netflix

For a variety of reasons, I happened to get Netflix at precisely the moment I had to eliminate my entire entertainment budget (only reason I was able to go to the Protomen was because I paid for the tickets weeks ago), so it’s been getting a pretty hefty workout. I watched all of Breaking Bad, as I mentioned, and then moved on to Weeds because I have had a schoolboy crush on Mary Louise Parker for decades, and also Arrested Development because everybody’s been bugging me about it for years.

Conclusions thus far: Breaking Bad is some of the best television ever made Weeds is not bad but I think I’d have liked it more if I’d watched it before Breaking Bad, which is both more dramatically compelling and more laugh-out-loud funny. But even nearing fifty, Mary Louise Parker’s smile can still light up a room, so I continue. And I liked Arrested Development better when they were poor and it was called Titus.