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An Advance Look at 'Arrested'

By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 22, 2006 12:00 AM

"Arrested Development: Season Three" (List price: $29.98)
Release Date: Aug. 29

The pleading is over.

There is no point in continuing to beg people to please watch "Arrested Development," because the Fox comedy finally got canceled earlier this year after three consistently funny, little-watched seasons. Despite heaps of praise from critics and a passionate (albeit small) fan base, the twisted saga of the blundering Bluth family never managed to succeed in the ratings game. After its third-season strike, it was out.

Fortunately, the laughs live on via DVD. That final season -- which earned four Emmy nominations, including one for Best Comedy Series -- will be released as a two-disc set next Tuesday, just a couple of days after this year's Emmy winners are announced. Whether or not the series walks away with more trophies to its credit (it earned an Emmy for Best Comedy Series two years ago), "Development" devotees will undoubtedly be happy to have those final moments with the Bluths preserved on DVD, where they can be viewed over and over again.

Because the third season was cut short by Fox, only 13 episodes are included here. But every one is packed with the madcap lunacy and smart snarkiness that made "Arrested Development" so brilliant, yet such a hard sell to the typical-sitcom-watching masses. The show is so layered that it's nearly impossible to summarize its greatness. But rest assured that plenty of ridiculous plotlines -- like a mock trial that takes place on a courtroom reality show hosted by Judge Reinhold -- and rapid-fire, hilariously quoteable dialogue abound. The solid ensemble cast again brings its comedy A-game, as do special guest stars like Charlize Theron, Andy Richter and, in a delicious role as a prostitute who might be another Bluth sibling, Justine Bateman, real-life sister to "Arrested" star Jason Bateman.

The extras range from fun to lackluster. The nearly 15 minutes of deleted and extended scene deliver a few chuckles, as does an obscenity-laced blooper reel. But the three commentary tracks, featuring nearly all of the core cast members and show creator Mitch Hurwitz, provide few insightful anecdotes about the series or what went on behind the scenes. (Given all the giggling that goes on, however, the commentaries do prove that the cast had a good time off-camera as well as on.)

Even if the bonus features are spotty, "Arrested Development" still delivers more guffaws per minute than any show currently on television. And that makes this DVD worth a look, at least until a recently announced syndication deal with cable channels G4 and HDTV goes into effect; both networks will air episodes of "AD" starting this fall. So won't you please watch them?

Oh, wait. I'm begging again, aren't I?

Most Touching Bonus Point: It's rare to see the softer side of any "Arrested Development" star. But we get a glimpse of genuine emotion from Will Arnett, who plays magician and oldest Bluth brother Gob, during the featurette "The Last Day on Location." After the crew declares that Arnett has wrapped his final shot for the series, the wisecracking actor chokes up while expressing thanks to cast and crew. Wow, Gob. We never knew you had it in you.

Most Intriguing Bonus Point: At the end of the commentary for "Development Arrested," the show's final episode, discussion about the rumored "Arrested Development" feature film ensues. "I have a pretty good idea for the movie, which I'll tell you about after we stop recording," Bateman tells Hurwitz. "I think we should make it into a movie and then spin it off into a TV show," cracks Arnett. Are they serious, or just pulling a prank? It's unclear, although the blooper reel closes with the words "To be continued?," which no doubt will fuel additional discussion on more than one fan Web site.

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