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August 21, 2005

"Arrested," and No Contest

Malbug_13

ArrestedemmyOn Sunday, Sept. 18, the Emmy Awards will air, one night before the season premiere of Fox's Arrested Development.  I have given it some thought -- probably more than I should -- to why Arrested Development deserves to win, hands down, the Emmy for Best Comedy.  Again.

It is a departure for a half-hour network sitcom to forgo a studio audience for a one-camera shoot, but even more daring to attempt AD's rapid-fire delivery, running gags, obscure references and subtlety.  The writing is dense and complex, the pacing is often frenetic, and the performances -- every one of them -- are brilliant.  (I can't remember another show where I have so thoroughly loved all the characters for their own uniqueness and complexity.)

Of course, none of this is reflected in AD's mediocre ratings, but Fox's continued confidence that this will change gives me reason to hope.

It all hit me when I was watching one of the episodes from season two, which Fox has been re-running four per week on successive Fridays this summer.  My thesis can probably be summed up in one 40-second clip featuring the three Bluth brothers (Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Tony Hale) and their lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler).  There is nothing fall-down funny about it, but it represents AD's respect for its audience and its (yes) subtle humor.

Consider it sort of a comedy IQ test: If you laugh, then you're either a current or prospective Arrested devotee like me.  If you don't, then please watch anyway so that it stays on the air for the rest of us.

[Watch video -- 3.5mb, WMV format]