Talk about ending with a whimper, rather than a bang, the third and final season of "Arrested Development" arrives on DVD in a neatly packaged two-disc set, the same kind of slim packaging that has accompanied canceled-too-soon FOX shows like "Action!" and "Greg the Bunny."
After giving the Emmy-winning comedy two full seasons to find an audience, FOX butchered the conclusion of "Arrested Development," scheduling the show, pulling the show and finally burning off the last four episodes in a hilarious block that aired opposite the opening of the Winter Olympics.
As a result, it's difficult to explain what, if anything, actually happened during the last 13 episodes, plot-wise. It had something to do with George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor) insisting he'd been forced to work for the Iraqis, which somehow led Michael (Jason Bateman), Gob (Will Arnett) and Buster (Tony Hale) on a trip to the war-torn nation. George-Michael (Michael Cera) and Maeby (Alia Shawkat) continued to gravitate toward an illicit love, while Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and Tobias (David Cross) continued to move apart.
With the show obviously doomed, creator Mitch Hurwitz and the rest of the writing team began to directly reference the inevitable end, in a manner as postmodern as anything television has ever offered. Their frustration yielded brilliant moments like the "S.O.B." ("Save Our Bluths") episode that featured a shocking live ending and repeated pleas from the narrator (producer Ron Howard) to have viewers tell their friends about the show.
The season also included a slew of bizarre guest stars. Interestingly, the DVD packaging makes no mention of Charlize Theron, whose multi-episode stint was based around a joke that wasn't explained until the end of her fourth episode (that whole MR F thing is actually much funnier the second time through). Scott Baio -- obviously oblivious to the humor of playing a character named Bob Loblaw -- and Justine Bateman get the featured treatment.
Not surprisingly, the reason to buy the third season of "Arrested Development" is to have the episodes on DVD, rather than any bonus features. Although the show's quality was a bit erratic in its last season, the humor pushed in progressively more absurd directions and the number of fleeting sight-gags and in-jokes for devoted fans demand repeat viewing.
The bonus features include deleted and extended scenes and the sad "Last Day on Location" featurette. There are also a trio of commentaries with Hurwitz and nearly every regular cast member. The only absence is Tambor, so much of the second commentary -- on the "MR F" episode -- is devoted to attempting to contact the wayward Emmy nominee via a variety of phone numbers. The chatty commentaries, as overlapping as an Altman film, have a few recurring themes including de Rossi's hotness, the uselessness of FOX network notes and a series of stabs at ABC's short-lived "Sons & Daughters."
The final commentary ends with musing on the show's future. At first, Hurwitz kids that "Arrested Development" will return as a series of Russian nesting dolls. As the cast reaches an agreement that a movie sounds like a good plan, Arnett comes up with the best idea of all, noting, "I think we should make it a movie and then spin it off into a TV show."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times