Let’s Talk Arrested Development Season 4

“And now the story of a family whose future was abruptly canceled…”

arrested-development-season-4-cast

Well, this is it, Joel.  Over the course of 12 hours yesterday, Jay and I marathon-ed through all 15 new episodes of my all-time favorite comedy TV show, Arrested Development.  In order to not get too Bluth’ed out, we took a break every 3 episodes and it really helped a lot.  Overall, I loved it.  Was it perfect?  No.  The overall arc is complicated, but it pays off.  The first 4 episodes have a lot of set-up, so you have to pay attention.  However, once the payoffs start rolling in, it’s worth it.  Honest.  Arrested Development, in my opinion, is just as intelligent and on top of its game as it was when it was canceled in 2006.  I am so grateful to Netflix for giving us another shot at Bluth-dom.  The more Bluth we can get, the better.

This is the story of an entire season that culminates at a party in honor of “Cinco de Cuatro,” a festival conceived by Lucille in 1982 in “a particularly vicious response” to El Cinco de Mayo.  Each episode focuses primarily on one character, though you do see other characters involved in their storylines.  When we’re introduced to each Bluth, we pick up where we left off at the end of Season 3 – with Lucille attempting to escape on the Queen Mary to avoid SEC charges.  I think I can best describe the format as sorta being Arrested Development-meets-Lost.  We find out what happened to the Bluths immediately following Lucille’s arrest and the subsequent shenanigans they got into that caused them to miss Lucille’s trial.  Time jumps a little bit – and I am a bit sketchy the timeline after the trial stuff which I think a second viewing will clear up – and we end up learning what happens in the days before the Cinco de Cuatro festival.  Each character’s journey ends with a cliffhanger at the festival itself.  Fun fact: The title cards for each episode are updated to reflect the character it’s about, so when it’s George Sr.’s story, the picture of Lucille says “His wife,” whereas when it’s Maeby’s turn, the picture says, “Her Gangie.”

I guess I’ve seen a lot of criticism from people that the new season “just doesn’t have the same feel” as the old one.  Weren’t we all warned about this several times by creator Mitch Hurwitz and the cast members?  This new season has always been described as one giant catch-up-with-the-Bluths party that also happens to hopefully set up a movie.  It pretty much does just that.  If you were going into this expecting everything to be the exact same as it was before, they you were going to be disappointed.  Hurwitz & co. flat out told us that the new format was very different from before.  I understand that they naysayers don’t like the change and can respect that.  Hurwitz & co. took a huge leap of faith with the giant undertaking of telling us the story in such a complicated way.  I think that having their comeback on Netflix directly influenced why they did it this way.  Had they been picked up by HBO or Showtime or even Fox, I think we would’ve had the traditional Bluth format we’re used to.  Maybe I’m way off base, but I think the medium influenced the storytelling.  Binge viewing worked great for the first time around because we needed to get to Episode 13 in order to find out answers to something from Episode 1.  For a second viewing, it’ll be nice to slow down and really enjoy the ride.

So here’s why I enjoyed the new episodes of Arrested Development: It made me laugh and I loved all of the little Easter eggs we got and watching all of the puzzle pieces fit together.

There are laughs in the first few episodes, but since the episodes focus on characters (Michael, George Sr., and Lindsay) who aren’t always the primarily comedic focal point of the series, they mainly serve as set-up.  [Note: While an argument can be made that as the main character, Michael is the primary comedic focal point of the series, I maintain that as the straight man, he’s the front row seat we sit in as we watch the funny happen on stage.]  I think it was wise to use these characters’ stories as set-up before getting into the characters such as Tobias and G.O.B. who have been the backbone of the zany, crazy comedy.  In my opinion, the two Michael, George Sr., and Lindsay episodes push the storyline along the most, even if I do feel both Lindsay eps are the weakest out of all of the 15.  Set up what’s happening, then unleash everyone’s favorite discipline daddy.  I don’t think I would’ve changed much about the order other than maybe giving us more Buster and much earlier.

I originally was putting my recaps and thoughts on individual episodes below.  However, that post got to be REALLY long and I wouldn’t have wanted to read all of it.  I’ve moved them all over to a new post.  Let me know in the comments section if you agree or disagree and how you felt.  Which episode was your favorite one?  I think mine was the first G.O.B. episode, “Colony Collapse,” but it could change after I watch them all again…

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