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Bonus Points: Weekly Guide to DVD Extras

'Arrested Development's' Funny Features

By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 19, 2004;

"Arrested Development: Season One" (List price $39.98)
Release date: Oct. 19

"Arrested Development" is finally getting some respect. First the Fox sitcom -- which focuses on the misadventures of the dysfunctional, hilarious Bluth family -- ran away from this year's Emmys with five trophies, including the coveted award for Best Comedy Series. Now, just in time to generate interest in the premiere of its second season Nov. 7, a DVD containing the first 22 episodes of "Arrested Development" hits shelves today.

Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Bateman are among the cast members providing commentary on the "Arrested Development: Season One" DVD. (AP)

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For those who've never seen the show, the three-disc set offers an added benefit beyond just catching up -- the absence of commercial interruptions enhances the brisk pace of the comedy. Dedicated fans, meanwhile, will relish the opportunity to revist and rewind certain scenes, a necessity in a show where the jokes speed by at warp (and warped) speed.

The DVD's producers have compiled a respectable collection of bonus features, including numerous deleted and extended scenes; a behind-the-scenes featurette; three cast and crew commentary tracks; a panel discussion with the cast and show creator Mitchell Hurwitz; and an extended version of the pilot. Though the extras aren't as entertaining as the show itself, they still serve up their share of giggles. The Bluths may be a riot, but so are the people that bring them to life. And that makes for hours of laugh-out-loud DVD watching.

Most Educational Bonus Point: The documentary "Breaking Ground: Behind the Scenes of 'Arrested Development'" provides the most insight into how the show's documentary-style is achieved. In addition to footage of the series being filmed and interviews with cast members, the featurette also shows executive producer Ron Howard recording the show's narration. As star Jason Bateman aptly describes "Arrested": "It's 'The Royal Tenenbaums' shot like 'Cops.'"

Best Deleted-Scene Bonus Points: Each disc contains a series of extended and deleted scenes, but the ones on disc two are the most entertaining. They include a painful birthday party flashback and a series of moments where Buster (Tony Hale) repeatedly refers to everyone he sees as Lucille, a name ironically shared by his mother and girlfriend, played by Liza Minnelli.

Most Disappointing Bonus Point: A feature that promises a preview of season two by Ron Howard doesn't provide many specifics. Mostly Howard talks about how great the show is. And here I was hoping he would confirm the rumors that -- in an inspired (if psychologically disturbing) bit of casting -- Justine Bateman, Jason Bateman's sister, will join the show to play his love interest.

Most Disappointing Bonus Point, Part Two: I'm sure there are some choice outtakes and bloopers, especially from the scenes featuring the perpetually absurd David Cross. So how come they're not on the DVD?

Most Incorrect Bonus Point: During the commentary track for the episode "Beef Consomme," Hurwitz mentions that he and the cast just heard about their multiple Emmy nominations. "Of course the audience will hear this after we've lost all our seven Emmys," he wryly notes. Happily, his prediction was wrong.

Also on DVD this week: Monster movie "Van Helsing" and a special edition of Tim Burton's "Ed Wood."

Coming in next week's "Bonus Points": The 2004 version of "Dawn of the Dead."

"Bonus Points," which reviews the features on the latest DVD releases, is now a weekly column. If you have feedback about the column or want to suggest a DVD for review, e-mail Jen Chaney.

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