Did the anticipated fourth season hold up?
By Jeff Allen, Contributor
Last month Netflix debuted the long-delayed fourth season of Arrested Development—something I’ve been giddy about (with a dash of trepidation) for several months. Can the new episodes possibly deliver on a fan’s expectations, considering the last episode originally aired seven years ago?
What separates Arrested Development from other television programs with appealing casts, smart cameos, and tip-top writing is the way in which the soap opera of the Bluth family’s machinations works in such a delightfully complex manner. Recurring gags, flashbacks, hilariously bleeped expletives, witty narration, subtle comic visuals; these are the hallmarks of a show too good to exist on network television. Although it found minimal success during its original television run, Arrested Development garnered its avid fan base on DVD and online where binge viewings were both desired and warranted.
This season, each of the 15 new episodes is dedicated to a particular member of the Bluth clan, changing its previous formula of featuring everyone each episode. This strategy was used in part to accommodate the cast’s busy schedules, but luckily this creative limitation has yielded high returns.
So what else is different about this season? As a fan, or a curious newcomer to the series, you will just have to watch. As the initiated already know, it is next to impossible to convey everything that happens in a single episode. Each half hour is packed so dense with comedic goodness; it’s the edible equivalent of a s’more baked into a chocolate tuxedo cake with a side of bacon.
The show really hits its stride with the Gob (Will Arnett) episodes, deserving new entries in the classic AD canon. If you can appreciate why Gob and his “entourage” entering a Hollywood nightclub under a neon sign that reads “And Jeremy Piven” is so clever, I’m sure you’ll agree.
One noticeably different aspect of season four is actress Portia de Rossi’s new cosmetic look. It takes a few episodes to get used to this alternate Lindsay Bluth Fünke, but rest assured fans, this does not go completely unnoticed by the show’s writers either (de Rossi herself acknowledges the fact).
Arrested Development has always been a maven of self-reference, especially this season. Ron Howard, the show’s narrator and executive producer, appears in several episodes as himself. In fact it seems like all the supporting players from seasons past show up. Season four feels like a greatest hits collection without the lazy stigma of an actual greatest hits collection.
Even with a supposed film on the way following this season, we shouldn’t speculate on the future of Arrested Development at this point. Let’s all simply revel in what I’m happy to say is now four seasons of comedic brilliance.