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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Arrested Development Season 4 Review

By now, everybody and their brother, younger brother, adopted twin sister, mother, father, uncle, son, niece, and brother-in-law knows that Arrested Development is back!

It's been seven long years since the cult show had been on TV. I must admit that I never watched it when it was originally on, but I bought the DVDs and watched the show before the "cult boom" hit. I instantly fell in love with this quirky and outlandish show about the ultimate dysfunctional family.

I was always a little disappointed with season 3 because it seemed so rushed, which I think was caused by the network cutting the amount of episodes they ordered almost in half.

There were many rumors in the past six years including a film adaptation directed by Ron Howard in 2008, moving the series to Showtime, etc. Finally in October 2011, there was a cast reunion during The New Yorker Festival where creator Mitch Hurwitz announced his plan to produce a fourth season that would lead into a movie. Fans rejoiced and looked forward to the coming news.

Many different networks were supposed to its new home: HBO, Showtime, even Fox again. Arrested Development finally moved onto Netflix! Every week they seemed to up the episode count finally ending up at 15 episodes each around 30 minutes in length.

Season 4 premiered on May 26th as a Netflix (semi) Original Series with the entire cast! Each episode focuses on one character showing us what they've been up to in the past few years and the current mischief they've gotten themselves into.

This format is good, but the pacing seems off. (They should have listened to their own rule: "NO TOUCHING!") Many of the characters (Michael, George-Michael, George Sr., Lindsay, Tobias, and Gob) have 2 episodes dedicated to them, but Lucille, Maeby, and Buster only have one each. Also with this, there isn't a great diversity of the episodes. Both of Michael's have aired by episode 4, but we don't see George-Michael's until episodes 13 and 15. This doesn't mean that we don't see all of the characters, but some are noticeably lacking (e.g. Tobias). I'd rather have had one episode per person and a few episodes for other characters like Barry Zuckerkorn, Oscar Bluth, and Egg... I mean, Anne.

Call me old fashioned, but I liked the old way where the episodes featured multiple story lines, rather than just one person's. I felt we got that better feel of the family's dynamics when they were all interacting and competing for both money and pity.

Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen as young Lucille and George Sr.

That being said, the jokes are still hilarious! Old favorites return and new favorites are born. There are puns-a-plentiful and guest stars galore! Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, John Slattery, Isla Fisher, Maria Bamford, and Terry Crews are among the newcomers to the show. Favorites John Beard, Liza Manelli, Ben Stiller, Judy Greer, Andy Richter, and Carl Weathers return along with dozens of others!

There has been some criticism that many of the actors were green screened in scenes. I only found this noticeable in a few select scenes. It definitely diminishes some of the chemistry the actors have on screen with their funny reactions. I'm guessing it was a combination of reshoots/availability that was at the root of the greenscreening. Hopefully, if there was another season, they'd be able to get everyone on one schedule (although, you'd assume that would be the case for this season).

The most distracting part of the season has to be Portia de Rossi's recent plastic surgery. It's sparked some online controversy, but no one seems to have any concrete answers.

The ending of the season seemed almost as abrupt as the third season. It's a little confusing and somewhat unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that it's back and hopefully this will pave the way for at least one more season and a maybe a movie. I feel like it's a step in the right direction, but not quite what we were expecting. It's like eating a burger a few times that is absolutely delicious and suddenly it's gone. You see the ingredients around here and there, but never together. Periodically, you think about that burger and revisit the memories of it's taste, but you'll never have it again. Then one day, there it is in all it's glory once more, but it doesn't quite taste like you remembered it.

Arrested Development Season 4 is a welcome return that still needs some construction.

There's always money in 7 out of 10 Banana Stands!

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