Netflix has released Season 4 of Arrested Development in its entirety and we'll be binge-watching the series' revival and sharing our reactions from each episode with you over the next couple of days. The recap below contains spoilers from Episode 1 - "Flight of the Phoenix." Read no further if you haven't seen the episode yet!
”It’s so easy to forget…”
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. A Netflix semi-original series, it’s Michael’s Arrested Development. (Screams giddily into a pillow.)
After watching “Flight of the Phoenix” - with its updated opening and extended run-time - just now in the middle of the night, it felt like I was right back vicariously living through a dysfunctional family in sunny Newport Beach, California, where I was supposed to be all along. Though everyone naturally looks a little older, and Michael has gotten a lot more pathetic, these are gloriously (most of) the characters we can instantly recognize, and immediately noticeable is the character-based episode structure that Mitch Hurwitz had talked about in the past, thus the addition of his name to the series title. So what’s he up to?
To lay it out more linearly and with more brevity, Michael did what Michael always does; he got into a bad situation and allowed his own pride to dig him deeper. Some of it was good pride, such as filling out Sudden Valley with his own money and Michael B Company, and some of it was bad pride, such as refusing to go crawling back to the family that could possibly help him. Though they can’t help him. which is why he was avoiding them in the first place. He owes $700,000 to Lucille 2 after selling his shares in the now-named Austero Bluth Company and then getting a loan from her to build his huge mistake of a housing development. And then he made a huge mistake of his own by offering to sleep with her for money, after inadvertently causing her to get dizzy and pass out. It seems Michael has become something of a less charming G.O.B., especially once you work in his semi-permanent residence within George Michael’s dorm room. (G.O.B. is still living in the model home.)
The dorm room story works to dig into Michael’s increasing neurosis, making him hopeful for an interview in an in-flight magazine called Altitude being his ticket back to the top. It’s kind of sad, and you just wish George Michael could be honest in telling him to leave. The whole voting process is funny enough, but its worth is only proven when we get to see George Michael’s vote, and the emotion there in quite sincere. George Michael needs time to work on his software with his actual roommate P-Hound, and to be “friends” with his “cousin” Maeby.
”Pursed Lips Sink Ships”
As far the George and Lucille - who is referred to with doublespeak mastery as the “seaward (c-word) matriarch – well, they’re getting a divorce. And George just bought a huge patch of land in the desert. (What’s going to happen there?) Their main role in this episode comes in the form of guest stars Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen playing the young Lucille and George, and focusing on Lucille’s prejudice-fueled plan to diminish the power of Cinco de Mayo by founding Cinco de Cuatro, only to have the Hispanic community get behind it, rendering her attempts moot. There could have been more done with this, and maybe there will be. Actually, just hearing Ron Howard rhyme his lines in this scene makes it all worth it.
As far as other guest stars go, we’ve got Barry Zuckerkorn, Sally and Stan Sitwell, and the guys from Workaholics - Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm – play an amusing set of airport employees. There’s also a cameo from an ostrich, but I’m not sure what that means yet.
So in the end, things are right where they should be. Michael is almost the same in that he hears what he wants to, but he’s not falling out of chairs anymore just yet. George Michael still looks a lot better without a mustache. And Arrested Development is back on TV. Or computers. Or smartphones and tablets. It’s everywhere!
Best Moment In The Episode (for now): The callback to the play The Trial of Captain Hook, itself a scene that will never fail to get a chuckle out of me, and having it dragged out further to include a “Loose seal! Loose seal!” gag. Out of context, it’s still funny.
The Rest Of The Developments
Ahem. Ron Howard clearing his throat shot right up to the top of my favorite moments in the series.
I love the University of Phoenix wordplay foreshadowing his actual trip to Phoenix, only to have him immediately turn around. It’s a great way to just incidentally shit on a longtime character motivation.
Are they telling us that Lucille 2 fell for George Sr.? Cause I certainly hope so.
G.O.B. just recently had sex with someone named Maria. Bamford? I like that they imply he shares roofies with John Beard Jr.
Now privacy is the most important thing? I can’t keep up.
“Oh, okay, yeah sure, we just, uh, let people walk onto the plane all the time. Do you want a box cutter also?”
George Michael and Boy George references are spot on.
Hopefully we now get to see Michael’s beggar prayer hands pop in and out of the season.
“That’s why you don’t confide in your competitor.”
“You wouldn’t tip an African American would you?”
“Of course I would.”
“On a train?”
"Did you know about this?"
“I've been tipping them. Even a waiter.”
G.O.B.’s former conquests on one screen.
In the end, a couple of our theories kind of came true. Now “where the [bleep] are my socks?!?”
Read more Arrested Development recaps here.