Sunday, May 26, 2013

Netflix revives "Arrested Development": a mockumentary about "family responsibility"?

When I lived in Minneapolis, a friend who ran a coffee business on the Skyway and worked as a stand-up comic on the side, use to say to customers “Stay out of jail!  Stay out of the penetitiary.”  (That was in St. Cloud.)

The elder Burth, a southern California real estate developer, doesn’t keep himself out of jail, and his spoiled, dysfunctional family faces eventual life on the streets in the renovated “mockumentary” series “Arrested Development”, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, originally in 2003.
In 2013, Netflix is re-inventing the series, with a fourth season, sponsoring it for instant play customers only, in half hour episodes, the first of which aired today.  This is a case of “go home” instead of “go big”. 

In the Pilot, dad has refused to promote Michael Bluth (Jaseman Bateman), but then is suddenly arrested for embezzlement.  Michael gets drafted to take care of the rest of the family.  He starts by moving into the attic of a dream home with a little brother, so they can keep the rest of the house “staged” for sale.  It appears to be located near San Diego. One of the scenes appears to be shot on the boardwalk in Venice. 
There’s an opening scene where the family’s celebration party (before the arrest) is upstaged by a gay protest against the company from a nearby boat.  The company, in mock fashion, had hired “homosexuals” to put on an act as pirates.  (Is this a reverse of Cracker Barrel? Of ExxonMobil?)
There’s also a funny audition scene for one of the members.

Does this comedy work?  Not nearly as well as does “Modern Family”. 

Picture (mine): On the road along I-5, toward San Diego (May 2012). 

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