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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.
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.
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.
Watching these new episodes of Arrested Development is like a game. The series has always been big on foreshadowing and setting us up for what's ahead for the characters with little clues, but Season 4 is already taking that to the next level. It's to the point where there are multiple scenes playing out in front of us. Take Gob's moaning and groaning in "Borderline Personalities."
When Arrested Development was first in development, the part of George Sr. was not supposed to be a regular character on the series. It wasn’t until Jeffrey Tambor got the part and proved how well he could mix with the rest of the cast that the Bluth patriarch became one of the main parts of the show - and one of the best parts at that. Tambor’s talent and the writing staff’s skill harmonized to create some of the most memorable elements of the first three seasons...
The marathons are over. At least, the old marathons. It’s time to begin something that most of us thought could never be attempted. For today, Netflix has granted us Season 4 of the greatest modern (and often post-modern) comedy series to ever grace our TV screen, so that we may new begin new marathons.