For years, fans of the cancelled series Arrested Development have been praying for a revival. They wanted to see what the Bluth family’s been up to and what kind of hijinks they’ve pulled. They may have gotten their wish, but at a cost. The fourth season of Arrested Development showcases its wit but doesn’t gel with the previous entries.
- Directors: Mitchell Hurwitz and Troy Miller
- Writers: Mitchell Hurwitz, Jim Vallely, Richard Rosenstock, Dean Lorey, Caroline Williams, Jim Brandon and Brian Singleton
- Cast: Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Jessica Walter, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, Mae Whitman, Liza Minelli, Carl Weathers, Judy Greer, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig
The years haven’t been good to the Bluths. The company’s still in debt and Michael’s (Bateman) life is more out of control than usual. Broken and practically homeless, he tries to stay with his college son George Michael (Cera) only to get the cold shoulder. George Sr. (Tambor) tries to keep a new scam afloat just to make some money, Tobias (Cross) and Lindsay (de Rossi) separately go on soul searching trips, while Lucille (Walters) is doing what she normally does–drink and complain. Every member of the Bluth family is suffering in their own way, stunted by recent events that have made their lives a little harder.
- Crazy Great Cameos: Within the first episode we’re overwhelmed with a number of cameos. They range from the stars of Saturday Night Live to Comedy Central. At first, it’s distracting but you quickly realize, hey, I’m finally getting that new season I’ve wanted for years. After awhile the cameos begin to dwindle, though our favorites are the young Lucille (Wiig) and George Sr. (Rogen) who were perfectly cast. It was funny seeing how incredibly meta it got when Michael was faced with possibly making a movie about his family, only to be turned down by Ron Howard (the show’s narrator).
- Tying Everything Together: It takes a while, but the season manages to tie all the stories together in a neat bow. Initially, it comes off as a mess when they throw us into the Bluth’s disheveled world. In some ways, it works to their advantage. They take their time explaining where mentally and physically each family member is at this point and where they want to be. The most entertaining stories deal with Tobias, Lindsay and Gob. One of the things Arrested Development fans know, is that you have to keep your eyes open for any small event going on in the background. It’s usually tied to something that you’ll see in the near future.
- The Heart: Our biggest concern wasn’t the cameos or episode count, but the show’s heart. Thankfully, series creator Mitchell Hurwitz was 100 percent involved. Hurwitz and his writing team encompassed the strange love the family has for each another, while retaining its witty humor. The fourth season never feels like it’s completely detached like the latest season of Community was.
- Phoning It In: A couple of the younger main actors appeared as if they weren’t giving it their all. We understand it’s been years since you last played the characters but one would imagine it would be like slipping on a comfortable pair of shoes. There has to be some modifications because you’re dealing with a slightly older and hopefully wiser version of your character. But still, don’t act like you’re barely awake and trying to get used to your surroundings. Seeing that type of acting is aggravating but thankfully it doesn’t last as the episodes continue. Everybody is back on their feet by the midway point.
- An Ensemble Comedy Minus The Ensemble: Our biggest criticism of the format is how everybody’s more or less separated. At first, it’s completely understandable but some of the comedy is automatically lost because the show functions best as an ensemble. When people began complaining about how the season doesn’t fit, that’s why. All of their banter, the best jokes that we remember spawned from the many family conversations. It’s great that we get more time to understand what’s going on in the minds of each character, but seeing them apart for so long kind of hurt it. We love the Bluths when they’re together.
The fourth season of Arrested Development may appear out of place with it’s unique episode format, but still retains the heart and comedy that made it stand out.
Arrested Development Season 4 is out on Netflix now.