Arrested Development Season 4 Review

So May 26th has come and gone and leagues of adoring Arrested Development fans have marathoned or are in the process of marathoning all 15 long episodes to find out what happens to the infamous Bluth family. Instead of the story being told in a linear fashion, it is told from different characters’ perspectives so that we get bits and pieces of information and how each character contributes to the progression.

As a whole, I think the season was a success. The first few episodes are a bit slow because there is a lot of exposition, however I think the writing and the characters are still very much true to the original series. Episode 5 (Tobias) is when the show really picks up.  The episodes were significantly longer than when they were airing and I think that harmed the story because the pacing felt a bit off. It wasn’t as concise and tight as it was when the episodes were shorter.  It was also confusing trying to figure out the chronology of the show. While I was watching there was a lot of pausing and talking about when things happened in relation to each other. I feel like that’s one part where the show struggled. While it was interesting having Ron Howard in the show, I feel like it was a bit odd listening to his narration while he was on screen. I think that this season also relied to heavily on the narration and it became more of a crutch to try and tie everything together instead of a nice storytelling device. I enjoyed the season and I think that it’ll do well enough where there can be a Season 5 and possibly a movie.

One of the things that was especially hard to get used to was that Michael Bluth is no longer the moral compass of the show and is in fact, quite a shitty human being. A lot of the appeal for Michael came from the fact that he seemed to be the most sensible Bluth. He was the only one trying to hold everything together and the only one actively trying to make life for his family better despite his family’s best efforts to not let that happen. However, because of Michael’s demeanor in the first 3 seasons, it’s easy to miss his more “Bluth-Like” qualities. Upon rewatching all 3 seasons before the Season 4 premiere, it’s easier to see now a lot of Michael’s less than savory qualities. A prime example of how much Michael is a Bluth is the whole Marta arc where he was trying to steal Gob’s girlfriend and eventually ends up spying on her to figure out who the mystery “Hermano” is. Now we see Michael completely down on his luck and without his family to feel superior to, turning into a terrible human being. He’s imposed himself on George Michael’s life and I feel like seeing him being as out of touch as someone like Lucille is a foreboding and unsettling way to see the revival of AD.

As the season progresses we see George Michael as the sort of moral compass of the show and Michael embracing the manipulative side of his personality and getting further away from who he was prior the Great Dark Period. George Michael has a much bigger role in the series and progressing the narrative due to being older and Michael Cera being a big star. It’s refreshing to see that George Michael has evolved beyond “awkward teenager who has a crush on his cousin”. I think one of my favorite moments in the entire season may have been his chicken dance.

Tobias, Gob, Maeby, and Buster had the best episodes by far. I also liked Lucille’s a lot as well. We saw a very brief moment of vulnerability from her and that was fantastic. Kristin Wiig played a great young Lucille and I enjoyed the flashbacks for her alone. Seth Rogen was just being Seth Rogen because that’s all he knows how to do.

Overall, the season had quite a bit of low points to the point of bordom and predictability and just as many high points of refreshing, hilarious and meta material. I don’t think it works as a stand alone season. If it was just going to be a Season 4 and no more AD I’d be quite upset because there are a lot of cliffhangers and the ending was too abrupt. If the rumors are true and this is just Act 1 of a 3 Act Revival then I think that it will make it more enjoyable knowing there is more to come.

Now that they’ve practiced with this format I think Season 5 has the potential of becoming one of the best in the show and revitalizing the series even more to the point where a movie isn’t just a possibility, but solid as a rock.

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