The bad thing about working a 40-hour week is that you fall behind on the things that are important in life, like watching TV. And even when you’re home in the evening, you’re tired and cranky and malaised, unable to watch anything more stimulating than the Winter Olympics; that’s why it took me nearly a month to get up to the point where I could watch the last episodes of Arrested Development. Watching TV isn’t usually thought of as an activity that you need to be in peak mental condition to engage in, but with a show like this, you really need to be at your best to keep up.

FOX presented the last showing of Arrested Development as a “season finale,” but when you burn off four episodes in one block and shunt the whole thing off onto a Friday night — opposite the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, no less — it’s not hard to figure out what the network’s plans are. There are rumors of the show possibly getting picked up by another channel, but even if it doesn’t, it can rest knowing that it went out on a high note. Or maybe a high tone cluster. If you tried to trace this show out on one of Steven Johnson’s little plotting charts, the sheet would be completely covered in marks; lots of shows have multiple storylines, but few can hope to weave them together as densely as AD did.

There was more than just plot here, though: jokes always require context to be funny, but AD’s jokes required you to pay attention to more than just previous episodes to get gags. Everything — from the story to the casting to other struggling shows to their own poor ratings — was fair game for the writers, leading to jokes that leave you struggling to keep up. At the same time, it made expert use of traditional sitcom elements, working family conflict, catchphrases, and double entendres into its routine. Of course, most of the double entendres revolved around incest, but whatever. Maybe that was a turnoff for viewers, but come ON: when Michael hooks up with a woman he thinks is a long-lost sister, but she turns out to be a prostitute who tries to seduce him, and she’s played by Jason Bateman’s actual sister, Justine, leading to scenes that even the characters have to admit are “weird on so many levels?” That’s comedy. Or at least it was.