This season’s disjointed structure and limited episodic focus was a far more successful way to tell this Bluthian story than I could have imagined, but the finale left me a tad too unfulfilled, and it hinted at the larger story that I wanted to get back into.
Even the offer of one month free isn't enough to stop people from pirating the new season of Arrested Development. Granted, not everyone has access to Netflix, which could explain at least some the pirated copies of the series that have been making their way onto the computers of fans. The series returned for its fourth season on Netflix on Sunday and has reportedly been downloaded more than 100,000 times within the first 24 hours.
Hey, Buster. It's only taken thirteen episodes of the fourth season for the youngest Bluth brother to finally get his chance to shine and it's "Off The Hook." Literally. That's the name of this chapter of Arrested Development. Puns! Something tells me that Mitch Hurwitz doesn't think that playing on words is the lowest form of wit and the show is a solid argument in his favor. Buster's episode has a handful of them. A huge hand-ful. Right? Or is it left?
As we have been saying, the season is ending on a far stronger note than it started, which is basically due to how this particular season has been structured. The first chunk of episodes relied so heavily on set-up, and we had to reach episode 10 or 11 before the big steps started to land with significant (and satisfactory) impact. In this sense, the title of the episode – “It Gets Better” – sums up the season as a whole up to this point.
Much like how the character is completely ignored by her parents, Tobias and Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), Maeby has had to wait a long time to finally get her own episode, but this one has her front and center. And it shows that she hasn’t done too much growing up in the years since the season three finale. It turns out that when we first saw her in the first episode of the season she was actually visiting George Michael’s (Michael Cera) dorm room as a high school student looking for a math tutor.
The old Arrested Development magic appears to be returning now that this experimental fourth season is finished explaining itself over and over, episode after episode. It took a long time for the audience to familiarize itself with the running jokes of this season, and the shows can focus on being funny … which they weren’t for the first half of this season.
One thing has become abundantly clear after watching ten episodes of the new season of Arrested Development: a rewatch is most definitely in order. Not that there isn't a lot to love the first time through, however, there are surely even more gags slipping by unnoticed. Of course, that's also what has always made it so special and “Queen B,” the first Lucille-centric episode, has a lot to sift through but still delivers plenty of laughs as well as some character development.
In bringing back Arrested Development for a fourth season after seven years off the air, series creator Mitch Hurwitz might have written the new season in similar fashion to the original series, with most of the character stories intertwined and all set in the present day, if not set immediately after the third season's events. However, given the limited availability of the cast, that likely wasn't an option.
Tobias has earned his bad luck streak after years and years of terrible decisions – like turning down a comfy $120K per year job working for Lucille Austero (Liza Minnelli) – but this episode actually has things looking somewhat bright for the idiot. A brief-yet-terrifying stint in prison leads Tobias to reconsider Lucille 2’s earlier offer and becomes a therapist and analyst at the Austerity rehab clinic.
This episode clocked in at 37-minutes! It's another way the fourth/Netflix season is departing from the original/expected television structure and it allows the writers more time to unfold the stories as they see fit. The series' revival has been breaking molds on several fronts, and before long we'll begin to debate the for better and for worse of it all. But for now it's predominantly exciting and still surprising.
I must confess, I'm conflicted by the new format. Focusing on each character rather than a particular plot arc or theme means that some of my favorite characters (Buster, Lucille) are being largely sidelined or are totally absent from eps. However, at this point in the season, the separate character threads are beginning to knit together, and already I'm hungry to rewatch and spot the jokes and references that didn't land the first time.
Six episodes in and we're still being kept in the dark about what Gob is up to. Gob's just one of the lead characters who has yet to be featured in his own episode, and we're due for an update on him, but Ep. 6 took us back to George Sr.'s story, as he crossed paths with Terry Crews' Herbert Love, a politician who's advocating low taxes for high income earners
There aren't many television shows that can retroactively affect an audiences' appreciation of previous episodes but almost every new installment of the fourth season Arrested Development has (mister) managed to elevate the the first impression of those that came before. Is the new structure still jarring? Sure. The pacing a little bit off? Maeby. Does it still have the same wit that made the initial run such a critical and cult success? Most definitely.
This new season is really giving us a different world than the one we’d grown to love, but I’ve already grown to love this one, in spite of the differences that I’m sure some people out there are already moaning about.
"It's been our great joy to bring this to you on Netflix, where you can access it whenever and however you want," Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurtwitz said, in the thank you letter he wrote to his fans and enemies this weekend. "Except, you know it's really meant to be watched in order. And you really should watch them all, because they build and I'm just saying, 'eventually,' if you can. All 15."