-Mildest of spoilers-
I’ve been a big Arrested Development fan since I was introduced to it back before season 2. So, I knew that any anticipation I had about the show being renewed would make it difficult to enjoy the newer episodes, as expectations are never met.
But season 4 of AD is an interesting Thing (pun intended).
The above photo, a classic moment of Arrested Development almost encapsulates my feelings about the new AD. It’s something of a mess, though one has to acknowledge that it was made under all sorts of complicated scheduling issues, and that it, while not a dry run, isn’t a complete story yet. I believe degree of difficulty is a far too often ignored aspect of criticism. Some things should be forgiven for specific deficiencies and problems in production or praised for overcoming them. It’s unfair to ignore production.
As a piece of writing it’s impressive. It’s a complex story with a clutch of characters going all over the place, but Hurwitz manages to keep it rather tight. It’s like a Christopher Nolan movie: it’s technically flawless and a marvel, but the technique often trumps any sort of emotional, or in this case comedic, investment/payoff.
What the format of season 4 reveals is how important the interplay between the actors/characters was. On their own some characters just don’t work as well as they do playing off of other family members. It appears that the main cast was only together for one scene.This particularly hurts Tobias who needs to play off of Gob and Michael or Lindsey. And some characters come in far too late (Buster, Gob), others show up too much (George Sr., George Michael). But I was very happy to see that almost everyone comes back down to minor characters (though my favorite felt clad Bluth was missing).
This isn’t like a Zombie Simpsons episode (and I say this as someone who still watches it every week) where the characters aren’t themselves or just go through cliche motion, or Season 4 of Community (which I really enjoyed, and you also have to take into account production issues) where the characters feel like they’re being worked out as the episodes occur. But there are some changes and the biggest is in Michael. One critic wrote that “Michael has always been a putz but he’s never been a schmuck” and that pretty much sums it up, at least initially; he seems to come back to good old Michael by the end of the series. This could be a problem with the order: the first episode is easily the worst of the entire series. The other change in tone is that the show is a little darker. The characters, Gob and Tobias especially, have always been pathetic but it feels like a few of the characters get moved to Neil LaBute-lite territory. Surprisingly, I think Lucille, perhaps the least likeable of the original run, comes off the best in this series.
A big surprise was that the show introduces a number of new characters and amazingly they all work: in fact Terry Crews was one of my favorite things about it. Maria Bamford, Isla Fisher, and Kristin Wiig are all terrific: I would so watch a Kristen Wiig prequel series.
The show is not as funny as the original, but that is a tall order. The first run of AD was the most laugh-per-minutes in TV history. I re-watched it so often because I often laughed over the next joke, sight gag, or punch line. But the problem is that some episodes just aren’t funny at all. What saves it is that it’s as smart and clever as ever. Some may argue it’s trying to be too clever but that was the original charm of the show. The biggest issue I had cannot be assessed yet, and that is what’s the point of seeing the Bluths at this point in their lives? What about this particular crisis is worth spending time on instead of another? If the next installment can make some of the more convoluted aspects of this installment pay off, I think it can be counted as a success.
It’s not quite a dry run, not quiet a hot mess, and a bit more filling than hot ham water. It’s more like the Bluth Cornballer; the cornballs may be tasty but you may feel like you got burned more often than you’d like getting them out of the fryer.
My reaction seeing the trailer for the new season of Arrested Development
Found on the internets:”I love Michael Cera” by BetsyBoobop
This is amazing.
I didn’t want to post it as a pic for those who want a surprise.
I present Mitch Hurwitz in a writer’s room (via Vulture).
Why is this a big deal?
I was working in the room with the writing staff. We were discussing the Maeby episode.
Arrested Development development is actually underway!!!
Best News Ever of the Day: Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz revealed this week that the show’s 10-episode fourth season will be released ALL AT ONCE on Netflix Watch Instantly in 2013. Be sure to save a sick day for the occasion.
And the news spread around the interwebs like a loose seal.