Strange, Fox's promos almost made me miss out on this whole thing.
It's a sit-com made with very high standards, it's a career revival for Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and Liza Minelli, and it's a show that puts Fox's profile into HBO territory. "It's Arrested Development"
"In fact...", a Ron Howard quote that has become a cliché around our house, in fact, it's all those things and more. The writing is as good as everyone says it is, the cast is on par with that of Seinfeld or Roseanne. (Say what you will about her, that was a dream cast) Whenever new characters appear, they are inevitably played by people familiar to fans of edgy, intelligent humor. People like Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Bateman are dependably good, Michael Cera is a standout, and David Cross is finally being seen for the talent that he is.
The strongest thing I can say about this is that I find myself repeating various running gags, things that, like "In fact...", have become clichés. "I've made a huge mistake." "I'm having the time of my LIFE in here!" "surprisingly cat-like" "Take a powder, willya fellas?"
This last one, uttered by Liza Minelli as Lucille Austero, sticks with me especially, and I hope that Liza stays with the show longer. As good as the principles are, she manages to outclass even them. The same with Henry Winkler, whose Barry Zuckercorn is the sort of lawyer television's been dying for. Among those main players, Lindsay and Tobias are pretty strange characters to begin with, but when you consider that they are an old married couple, that crosses the line into the bizarre. This show is full of people and situations you just won't see anywhere else, at least until other derivative shows start appearing.
Watch carefully, as there are many bit and pieces lingering in the background that you might miss. Recently, George Michael was dumped by his girlfriend. As he trudged home in a state of misery, you could hear sad Charlie Brown music. In the background, you could see a real - but bright red - dog house, with a real dog lying on top of it. It's things like these that tell me that the creators are just pleased to be doing this show for it's own sake, and that kind of love of the work shows through in the end.
Who knows if this show will last? There's an audience out there for this sort of thing, but they've generally settled into the Sunday night HBO schedule. Hopefully the Emmys, the word of mouth, and the critical raves will draw attention to this show. If not, we'll just have our A.D. dvds to keep us warm, and thank God for 'em!