And by “started watching,” I mean I watched all nine episodes yesterday on the recommendation of some friends and a few critics. One yahoo over at Yahoo! even dared to put it on his “10 Best TV Shows of the Decade” list. But the fact that he left Arrested Development off entirely should have clued me in to his tastes.
Arrested was actually a lot of the reason I tried out the show, as they’re both smartly written comedies about a dysfunctional family with no laugh track. After nine episodes, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the show, and those of you who have seen it, see if you agree with anything I’m about to say.
– During the first four episodes, there was at least one moment that had me uncontrollably laughing out loud. The highlight of the entire series so far was “Let’s go, I just stole a baby’s intellectual property.” The show was clever, tightly written and pretty great.
– But after this point, things kind of dropped off for me. It was still funny yes, but there were no more laugh out loud moments, and the show kept trying to take its characters further and further off the deep end.
– I think the relationship between Cam and Mitchell produces the best comedy on the show, and Cam is one of my new favorite TV characters. That being said, I think they’re going to over the top with him, knowing that he’s the show’s comedy powerhouse. He was an Indiana linebacker AND a professional clown? Now, it would be one thing if it were a recurring Arrested joke, the clown thing kept coming up again, but I feel like this show isn’t that smart, and is fine with just using one-off episode gags to suit an immediate purpose.
– Phil and Gloria are two characters the show has most struggled with in my eyes. Phil started out as a wannabe “cool dad,” but in later episodes is just really a buffoon, as it seems any dad on any comedy show must be. Gloria has always been firey, but nine episodes in and I don’t think she really adds anything to the show except being a heaping helping of eye candy. I’m surprised they haven’t put her in a bikini yet. Ratings would go through the roof.
– Haley is crazy hot. Like a young Mila Kunis, who is already pretty young. But it’s OK to say this because I looked it up and she’s 19 as of last week. Yeah, I know.
– The kids aren’t given enough dimensions on this show. I love Manny, but the Luke, Alex and Haley are just one-note, as yes, Haley is hot and dumb, Alex is frumpy and snarky and Luke is borderline special ed, but that’s really all each of them are on the show. Not much more than a pair of adjectives.
– Every episode ends the same way. There’s some sort of narration along the lines of “We may all be crazy, but in the end we love each other” while emotional music plays in the background. I’m all for comedy with a heart, but you can’t end 80% of your episodes like this and expect it to consistently produce the desired effect.
Surely Modern Family is better than most of the sitcom crap like Till Death and Two and a Half Men that still seeps onto the airwaves these days, but it’s far from perfect, and far from Arrested Development, even though I can already see this show lasting twice as long because it’s easier to market via one-liners and hot Colombians. I don’t fault it for that, but I do think it is losing steam. Best of the decade? Let’s just try to crack the” best of the year” list first, shall we?