Review: The Arrested Development Documentary Project
PLOT: An in-depth, behind the scenes look at the cult TV series ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, from it's creation, original run on Fox, cancellation, and eventual rebirth as a cult hit.
REVIEW: I'm absolutely obsessed with ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, but like many of it's fans, I never watched it during it's original run on Fox. By the time I got into it- thanks to the DVDs- the show had already been cancelled. Why did I never watch it before? The thing is, I was always aware of it. People talked about how great it was, the reviews were terrific, it won Emmys, etc. Maybe it was my own prejudice of network TV that kept me from tuning in, and it took a lot of friends telling me how good it was before I finally gave it a shot. In the half-dozen years since, I've probably re-watched the entire series three or four times. I never, ever do that.
It's just such a damn good show, and this new, independently financed documentary is truly preaching to the choir as far as I'm concerned. Director Jeff Smith has managed to assemble a really fun little documentary despite a tiny budget (partially financed on Kickstarter). Smith was able to coral all the major cast members (with Michael Cera being the one conspicuous absence), in addition to the show-runner Mitchell Hurwitz, and most of the regular writers and directors (including CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER directors Anthony and Joe Russo who are given a lot of credit for establishing the technique used to shoot the show). Even Ron Howard is here, for an extensive, candid interview where- among other things- he mentions Fox Network owner Rupert Murdoch once admitting to him that he didn't care for the show (although he agrees with the sentiment that it probably belonged on cable).
The stories are plentiful. Will Arnett talks about Michael Cera ending up on the Emmy redcarpet between Michael Douglas and Sarah Jessica Parker, and being confused by the paparazzi who kept screaming “Michael!!! Sarah!!! Michael!!! Sarah!!!”. Given that the interviews were shot before the netflix deal was announced, there's a bit of resentment coming from the interviewees about how the show ended before it's time, and was never given a fair shake by Fox. Luckily, the show is back for a (hopefully) triumphant fourth season.
Running a short 75 minutes, THE ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT DOCUMENTARY PROJECT (that's the actual, onscreen name), is an easy watch, and extremely enjoyable for all us devotees. The only real shortcoming is that they weren't able to secure the rights to any actual footage from the show, which is a real shame. It's too bad Netflix or someone with the rights couldn't give them access to the footage, as the doc can't help but feel unfinished without it. Still, anyone who's a real fan of the show won't need any footage to remind them how great it is. Hopefully, the ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT saga is one whose true ending is a long time away. Until then, this is a nice look at the show's creation, and first cancellation, and new life as a cult phenomenon. I'd wager it's still a cult show, but hopefully it's new life on Netflix will allow it to reach an even broader audience.
|Extra Tidbit:||THE ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT PROJECT is available on VOD now.|