“The B. Team” is actually an apt metaphor for this season. It’s still the same team you know and love, just… not as good.
Let’s break it down…
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had countless friends tell me to be patient about the fourth season of Arrested Development. They promise that the episodes get better towards the end. While that could be true, it doesn’t change the fact that the early episodes aren’t fun to slog through. Simply because the first few episodes set up great stories or jokes for future episodes shouldn’t mean that they themselves aren’t enjoyable. Why should we accept anything less when we’ve all seen the greatness that was the first three seasons (okay, really the first two) of this show? Back in the glory days, each episode was a solid twenty-two minutes of standalone comedy, simultaneously making subtle callbacks to previous episodes and planting seeds for future shows. Why isn’t that happening here?
The fourth episode is plagued by problems similar to the last two. Michael’s (Jason Bateman) story isn’t all that compelling: he meets an actress he likes, so he decides to use the movie being made about his family to get to know her. Except there doesn’t seem to be any reason for him to be contacting any of the people he does, other than it allows for cameos from fan favorites from past (superior) seasons. While Carl Weathers and Scandal Makers and Warden Gentles (James Lipton) add fun jokes here, they don’t serve any narrative purpose in and of themselves. And that wastes their potential.
Even if the episodes haven’t been satisfying, they remain funny and there’s still a lot worth unpacking. They range from the broad jokes of Bob Loblaw and his law bombs to the subtle critique of Google (“In fairness to them, it is their property”). Of course, the best comedy comes courtesy of Bluth family interactions, and this week is no different. Michael only spends a few minutes on screen with George (Jeffrey Tambor), but the funniest moment comes courtesy of Michael’s attempt to sell him on the movie. The pain of watching Michael selling George on the story being “… very… nice…” is pure genius.
- They may have been easy jokes, but I’ll admit that I laughed when Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler) called the door handle a “chotchie” while standing next to Mr. Chachi Arcola himself, Scott Baio. Equally as easy/funny is the “Eeeeyyy” made by young Zuckerkorn.
- If you haven’t yet, pause the episode when the production company signs are revealed. It’s worth it just to see the description of Jerry Bruckheimer’s sign as “driving action toward love through a storm until lightning hits a tree.”
- Most random and simultaneously most perfect gag: “Carrie Fisher Ankles Big, Too.”
- Does hanging a lantern on Michael’s meet-cute with Rebel (Isla Fisher) make up for the fact that the episode is riddled with meet-cute clichés?
That’s it for me this week, Bluthers. Now it’s your turn. Would you watch Carl Weathers’ “Weathers Permit-ing” episode of Scandalmakers? And would you trust Michael’s hernia guy? Sound off in the comments below!
Special note: This will be my last week doing weekly reviews of individual episodes. But I will be back next week with a review of the entire fourth season as a whole, so look out for that next Thursday!
The entire series of Arrested Development (1-4) is currently available on Netflix