Ask yourself this, and be honest….could season 4 even had the chance to live up to the unfair expectations? Of course not.
In a way, the return of Arrested Development is sort of the last big TV resurrection that the internet age of fandom has wanted (NO, asking for another Firefly season doesn’t count. The Serenity movie was that attempt to resurrect the franchise… Yes, I know…I miss it too, but we’re going off topic .)
So here we are, the full season already out in one shot. While I know most people were up at midnight and watched the full season in one binge viewing, I took two days. BUT ,I did finish it.
And after letting it digest in my head for a week. After talking about it with my friends who’ve seen it too, I’ve come to a very simple conclusion….
I liked it. A lot.
(SPOILER TIME! DO NOT KEEP READING UNLESS YOU’VE FINISHED SEASON 4.)
It is, of course ,not without it’s faults, but damn if I still didn’t laugh and be impressed with the ambition they had for this season.
One of the great things about season 4 is seeing that this was clearly written with the Netflix audience mindset. Arrested Development was always about rewarding it’s audience for paying attention, but now that you can view episodes anytime you wish, and now that you can pause and rewind, they are laying the jokes (both subtle and not subtle at all) like crazy. It was also really addicting for me to watch. This season they really laid out a very complicated plot that had even a twinge of mystery that made me what to know what happen. I keep pressing the play button for the next episode purely because I needed to know what happened next.
The way they wrote this season might have drove me nuts if I had to wait week to week for the next episode due to the lack of pay off in some of the storylines, but since it was all here at once, I didn’t feel impatient with it. It does need to be said though that I felt that the overall plots of this season ( like the Bluth family being involved with the construction of a wall between the US and Mexico and Michaels attempt to secure the movie rights of his family members) just didn’t have enough stakes that I was that invested in what happened to them. Also, very surprised to see how many open ended storylines we were left with at the end of the season. I know originally that Mitch Hurwitz originally intended to have Season 4 be the lead in to the long in talks Arrested Development movie, but after seeing what they have to tie up, I hope they decide to do another season instead (and personally a final season. Let’s give the Bluths some proper closure.)
It must be commended for the amount of weaving, set ups and pay offs, time jumps and back tracking they were doing this season. Of course, this kind of writing isn’t new to them as this is what the show is famous for, but this season in particular was very challenging. The fact is that they mostly pulled it off. Very few shows would dare do the kind of writing that Arrested does, and yet the writers of this show make it look easy…and funny.
The show is still wicked funny, and I’m glad to see that they did not forget how to write Arrested Development humor. Sometimes the jokes are as on the surface as you can get, or sometime they let a joke lay there waiting for you to see it, like this one…
Now I understand that the reason for the anthology format was partially because of the availability of the cast, but there is something neat on doing an episode that focuses on a different member of the family. Since it HAS been years since we last saw them, it was fun getting a FULL dose of a character just so we can catch up with them.
While some characters are great as focus characters, (Gob can have a full season by himself) others struggled when the spot light is on them.
One of the best things about the show was how they all interacted with each other, but alone, some characters feel stranded, like Tobias.
For me, in small doses, Tobias kills when he interacts with the rest of the gang, especially since they can react to him. Alone,the Tobias episodes were the hardest for me to watch. Seeing Tobias basically destroy his own life makes it a bit hard to sit through. Even worse, seeing Tobias ruing another person’s life (Maria Bamford’s hilarious and sad drug addict and former actress, Debrie) makes it even harder for me to sympathize with him.
Not saying Tobias wasn’t funny at all…I mean…he did make THIS his new license plate…
Which leads to this….
One thing I do want to address is how Michael was portrayed this season.
Now creatively, I understand a new direction to go with him is to essentially do “The FALL of Michael Bluth.” Well, ok, Michael hasn’t fallen as bad as this guy….
When we meet Michael, he is at his lowest. Since Michael is at his lowest, it becomes clear that a certain point Michael becomes desperate. This season he starts lying, bribing, and being incredibly selfish. Basically, he’s embraced the worst parts about being a Bluth without knowing it.
Like I said, I get it creatively (and it’s not like he was never above to do selfish things once in a while before this season), but I do truly miss the slightly more put together Michael. The Michael before was the sane man in a city of crazies, with only him and his Son not understanding everyone else.
Jason Batemans amazing skills at being a straightman were really missed this season. I missed scenes liked this one…
Because he stopped being the straightman, they essentially lost their audience connection. Now all of a sudden we were watching a show of nothing but selfish jerks….granted, VERY FUNNY selfish jerks, but jerks none the less.
But you know, I love watching these jerks. For the most part, I was just happy to see the whole gang together again. It may have stumbled a bit, but in the end, this season still proves that Arrested Development is still one of the smartest, bold, daring and the most unique comedy series out. Is it as good as the first three season? Not really, but is it superior then most comedies that are one the air right now? Yes it is.
Now excuse me, I have some Mark Cherry music to listen too…