- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mourning has broken

“Everyone’s Waiting,” the simple yet clever title of Sunday’s “Six Feet Under” finale, perfectly describes the heightened anticipation felt by fans of the departing series in recent weeks.

HBO’s critically acclaimed comedy-drama about the lives of the dysfunctional Fisher clan and their California mortuary started with a bang in 2001, yet painfully lagged in seasons three and four. That vibrancy, however, has returned anew in “SFU’s” final four episodes, which have centered on the shocking death of the show’s central character Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) and his family’s attempt to cope with the grief.

It should come as no surprise, then, that death figures prominently in “SFU’s” extended final episode (75 minutes), which begins at 9 p.m. But it also deals with life — and, more precisely, love, redemption and forgiveness.

For all its diversity (which included a homosexual partnership and even flirtations with incest), “SFU” was always about family, a theme which returns in Sunday’s finale with Brenda (Rachel Griffiths) prematurely giving birth to Nate’s child and David’s (Michael C. Hall) diminishing sanity due to his brother’s untimely demise.

Series creator Alan Ball (a 1999 Oscar-winner for his “American Beauty” screenplay) brings his show full circle by penning the script and directing the action as he did with its premiere four years ago. Sunday’s episode, however — complete with spectacular special effects — isn’t his best. One hokey scene features the deceased and adulterous Nate mugging for the camera while clad in a tailored white suit.

Still, it’s a bittersweet heart-pounder where plot twists abound. There are celebrations despite the uncertain future of the family business. Plans go awry, and yet someone triumphs. A key character faces a particularly cruel, though not surprising, fate. Some questions will linger, yet many more will be answered. And you’re certain to ponder the outcome — as well as your own mortality — long after the final reel. (Note to faithful fans: Be prepared to break out the hankies).

Ongoing ‘Development’

“Arrested Development,” Fox’s Emmy award-winning sitcom, continues its summer string of mini-marathons with four back-to-back episodes beginning at 8 tonight.

A favorite of critics, the show has teetered on the brink of cancellation (due to low viewership) during its two season run. But die-hard fans have remained loyal to the quirky family comedy that stars Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, comedian David Cross, and Portia de Rossi, among others, as the eccentric Bluth clan.

Once multimillionaires, the family is reduced to far more modest means after its patriarch George Bluth Sr. (Mr. Tambor) is convicted of a white collar crime and sent to prison. Instead of a lavish mansion, they’re now discovering life and work in the real world while living in a single family, demo-house in Orange County, Calif.

With the third season set to debut Sept. 19, Fox hopes its series of mini-marathons will satisfy loyal “Development” fans while also attracting new viewers. Tonight’s final marathon episode, airing at 9:30, features a guest appearance by Zach Braff of NBC’s “Scrubs.”

Compiled by Thomas Walter and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web, and wire reports.

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