Arrested Development Lives (or ‘The Phoenix and the Ostrich’)


I promised it. You ached for it. So here it is.

My review of Season 4 of Arrested Development.

This has been a long time coming for me. My family and I quote the old series of Arrested Development back and forth relentlessly. If you haven’t seen Arrested Development before, go out and watch it right now. For those of you that have indeed done this, you will notice that the end of the 3rd season falls a bit flat. This is because Arrested Development was cancelled during its 3rd season. As a result, it’s has been off the air for close to 8 years… until last week, when the prodigal show returned.

For more information on why you should care about this fringe-dwelling cult television series, feel free to check out the article I wrote for Warhol’s Children on this subject (‘Arrested Development Released and Why You Should Care‘). In the mean time, the question hangs – is Arrested Development, the show about the family everyone loves to hate, still reconcilable 8 years after its violent and bloody assassination?

After watching one or two episodes, it quickly became apparent that this was not the show we left behind those many moons ago. The format is changed to the point that it’s nearly unrecognisable, favouring a more modern, realistic style of cinematic development as opposed to the quirky sitcom-y leanings of the old show. The jokes reflect this too, favouring plot development instead of over-the-top humour and repetitive gag jokes. Truthfully though, I was ok with the fact that they branched out. I feel like I might have been disappointed if they’d tried to duplicate a formula that was nearly a decade old at this point. As the premise of this new series is the ‘evolution’ (or possibly the ‘devolution’) of the Bluth family, a more serious tone really does suit the story-line while also distinguishing the series from its predecessor.

Every episode we watch deals with one (or two) members of the Bluth family at a time, while weaving the other family members’ interlocking stories in and out of the on-going arc. It’s an ambitious endeavour, especially since there are 15 episodes and each episode is 35 minutes long (15 minutes longer than the most U.S. sitcoms). For the most part it works, though once or twice I had to wrinkle my brain to try and remember who did what when, and how it connected. Apparently, part of the reason the story-lines unfold this way is due to scheduling conflicts between the actors, hence why there is only one scene throughout the entirety of the series where they all appear simultaneously. I did find myself missing the Bluth’s interactions as a family for this reason (“Look at banner, Michael!”). Still, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, in the form of a feature film which we will hopefully see before 2015. So, all hope is not lost for a full blown Bluth reunion

Even with this slightly confusing, puzzle-like format that is so different from what I’ve known, I can’t help but love season 4. It’s like seeing a group of old friends get back together; none of them are quite as you remember them, and observing that change is a reward in itself. Aside from which, there’s a lot of rewatch value in the 4th season of this heavily nuanced show, ripe for being slowly dissected and analysed at length.

I think I just blue myself.

Final score; 4 eyEs and 1 socket. Check it out. 🙂

GAME-OF-THRONES-ARRESTED-DEVELOPMENTSpeaking of reviews, friend of eyE Justin Bog has just released a novella (which I’ve had the pleasure of beta-reading and can whole heartedly recommend), titled ‘The Conversationalist‘. Honestly, Justin’s dark, pensive rhetoric really brought this thriller to life for me; a thought provoking, macabre mental journey. Head on over to Amazon and get yourself a copy, kids.


14 thoughts on “Arrested Development Lives (or ‘The Phoenix and the Ostrich’)

  1. I am only a few episodes into the new season, and I have been a little disappointed as well. I agree that the whole family dynamic is something that is missing. You would think that after so long and so much effort they could try to clear a few weeks to do more than a couple of scenes together. One of the most disconcerting things for me is Portia de Rossi. I did not recognize her in the first episode to the point that I thought they hired another actress with her possibly doing voice overs.

    I am still hanging in there for the rest of the season, but just like other series that are cancelled early and are somehow saved, it just is missing some of the original magic. Maybe it is the anticipation. Maybe it is from watching the existing seasons over and over so many times. Maybe it is really just a loss of momentum and the actors have already moved on. Whatever the case, maybe it is better to just let some things live on only in memory.

    • Oh, hell, I know what you mean about Portia de Rossi. So bizarre! Every scene she did, I couldn’t stop goggling over how different she looked. Still, her botox seemed to loosen up by the end of it… A little sad to see the extent to which she’d cosmetically altered herself when she was so very naturally beautiful before. Poor girl. 😦

      Still, for me at least, I did enjoy it. I think the secret is just knowing that it’s not the old series, and appreciating it for it’s own merits. I’m still glad they brought it back. ^^

  2. ya I been through a few of those shows, I had thought are family was screwed up taking a look at them make ours look tame…

  3. Nice review. I watched all of the episodes and enjoyed the chaos of it. I was worried during the first episode, but liked where it went after that. The Gob and Tobias bits were my favorite. I think I could watch it again and pick up on more because there were moments when I too had to think back. I didn’t realize there was going to be a movie so now I am most pleased!

    • The Gob and Tobias ones were some of my favourites too. It’s a shame they waited like 6 episodes to drop Gob into the action, since he was the character everyone wanted to see (especially after the 1st episode ;)). I definitely need to rewatch. Movie is probably pre-production right now, so it might be a little while, but yeah, should be super awesome. ^^

  4. I need to make a night of streaming the old to get reacquainted w the series. Luved it then, im sure i’ll appreciate now.

    • I will say that the new series is definitely getting mixed reviews, Jipsee. Still, I think that if you can look past the fact that it’s quite different from the old series, there’s merit to be found… 😉

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