6. Arrested Development (2003-2006, FOX)
Smart and self-referential without too much clever winking at the audience, Arrested Development was the ultimate meta-sitcom of the mid-oughties. The saga of the Bluth family was brought to life by possibly the best cast on TV ever. Jeffrey Tambor (The Larry Sanders Show) played George Bluth, the scoundrel pater familias to a family of oddballs; when George’s financial shenanigans led to the Bluth Company’s possible downfall, good son Michael (Jason Bateman, Teen Wolf Too) stepped in to take responsibility for the company. Of course, this was no easy task–Michael had to deal with his harridan of a mother Lucille (Jessica Walter, Play Misty for Me) and his selfish siblings: G.O.B. Bluth (performed with genius skill by Will Arnett), twin sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), and idiot baby Buster (Tony Hale)–not to mention his wacky brother-in-law, Tobias (David Cross–more on him on a second). At the same time as he must deal with both the besieged family business and his crazy kin, Michael is also trying to win World’s Best Dad with his son George Michael (played with brilliant understatement by Michael Cera, my wife’s big crush) who is secretly in love with his cousin Maebe (Alia Shawkat). Zaniness ensues. Don’t believe me? Check out the compilation of chicken dance scenes below:
Arrested Development was brilliant and hilarious, but ultimately it was for the better that it was canceled after three seasons–to be honest the premise had more than worn thin, and characters as one-dimensional as the Bluth’s couldn’t survive for too long. It was great while it lasted. We’ll always have the DVDs (until DVD is supplanted by some superior form of media archival material).
Before we go, I must make mention again of adorable Michael Cera, who will no doubt be the numba one stunna this summer in Judd Apatow’s Superbad. Check out the trailer:
7. Mr. Show (1995-1998, HBO)
So. Originally I was not going to put any HBO shows on this list. It just didn’t seem fair. But I had to make an exception for Mr. Show, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’s acerbic and esoteric take on sketch comedy. How could I not include it? I love this show. Any clip will do–I just happen to particularly like this episode–(William Van Landingham III–jut the name cracks me up)–but if you like this and haven’t for some reason seen Mr. Show before, go ahead and just follow the whole Youtube thread, or better yet get the Mr. Show DVDs. Unlike other sketch comedy shows that rely heavily on topical situations and flash-in-the-pan pop culture references, Mr. Show‘s weirdness remains fresh and funny today (and presumably tomorrow).
From “Monk Camp”:
So. David Cross. I love the guy. He’s hilarious. But here’s something kind of weird: I find that a lot of message board trolls and internet weirdos absolutely hate this guy because–get this–he’s an asshole. Of course. Of course he’s an asshole. That’s kind of his gig. Shut Up You Fucking Baby! was hilarious. Tobias the analrapist was hilarious. He’s great in just about everything he’s on, from Biblioklept Salute alum Wondershowzen to future alum Home Movies (hold your breath for Part IV!). I’ll leave it at that. I don’t really need to defend the guy. Check out Mr. Cross’s “Open Letter to Larry the Cable Guy.”
And as not to undersell Bob Odenkirk (who is separately but equally funny) check out his new show Derek and Simon: