Arrested Development Season 4 is not clever; it’s bad TV | Baltimore Post-Examiner

Arrested Development Season 4 is not clever; it’s bad TV

arrested_development

Arrested Development doesn’t work.  Season 4.  It just doesn’t work.

I’m sorry.  I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer and rain on someone’s AD parade.  …It’s just not that good…  It’s bad.  There.  I said it.

First of all, I can see through all their little tricks and ploys.  For one thing – this show has been off the air so long that all of the actors have moved on to other shows (and rightfully so).  As a result, no one is available to shoot Arrested Development together/as an ensemble. Instead, each episode is featured around a particular character – because that actor was available to shoot that day.  We see right through this.  There is no way around it.  And it isn’t clever.  It’s making an excuse.

ArrestedDevelopmentS4Second, there are too many celebrity guests.  Is this Live with Kelly and Michael?  Because if I want to watch a talk show with celebrity guests, I know where to find one at 9 a.m. on weekday mornings.  So, no thank you, Arrested Development.  I understand that you’re super trendy right now and everyone wants to be you, but that doesn’t mean you should put everyone on your show.  That’s not what made you so delightfully funny/quirky/etc and had us excited about/begging for  a fourth season.  It’s the fact that your characters are so dorky, uncool, not trendy, spoiled, and completely deluded that makes your show so endearing.  So why is everyone in Hollywood at your party?

Third, I’m sorry, but when did Opie get such a big ego?  Ron Howard is great.  Amazing actor.  Tremendous director.  And terrific as the narrator on Arrested Development.  So why do we see so much of him on the show?  And why is every other sentence about Michael dating Ron Howard’s daughter – who is not his real daughter, Bryce Howard, but who is actually Isla Fisher, an unnecessary celebrity guest (even though I love you, Isla, so much).  So, Ron.  Love you, but get off the show you’re already on.  You’re perfect as the narrator.  Why mess with perfection?

Fourth, Arrested Development isn’t a formula.  It’s a style.  It is its own sub-genre.  And the first three seasons were written and rehearsed in such a way that it came together as off-the-cuff, organized chaos.  The way it’s written now, it feels like it knows it’s cool and it knows it’s successful, so it doesn’t have to try very hard.  It can just plug a bunch of fab people into it’s Arrested Development formulaic script and voila – a hit.  Wrong.  Try: Voila – lazy.  Voila – a dud.  Voila – I’d rather be watching The Killing.  And I never thought I would say that.

So if you like Arrested Development because it’s Arrested Development and you just want to binge on more of it, fine.  Be my guest.  But know this is like biting into Hersheys when you expected Godiva.


About the author

Jana (it rhymes with “banana” or “anna”) is an artist from Clarksville, Maryland. Growing up her parents always told her to “be whatever you want to be.” Seeing as she has come from three generations of doctors, she obviously became an artist. As an actor, she has performed internationally Off-Broadway, and locally to the Baltimore/DC area. Favorite roles include Juliet, Ariel, and Caliban. Jana is the Founder of Red Connect Online, a social media marketing company that creates customized advertising campaigns for small businesses. You can listen to her podcast, Confessions of a Closet Christian, on the E-Squared Media Network. You can also follow her on Twitter (@Jana_Stambaugh) and friend her on Facebook. Contact the author.
COMMENT POLICY
  • ukhousewifeusa

    I only just got to the end of Season 3 and started Season 4 last night, on my birthday. Oh, how disappointing :( Agree, Jana. It sucks

  • Hans

    Season 4 is terrible…. painful to watch. Your article sums up how I feel.

  • GenerikErik

    Thanks much. I found this article when I Googled “Why is Arrested Development on Netflix so bad?” I tried 5 times to make it through the third episode. This is awful. I was tremulously excited that AD was coming back. I loved the show. This new thing isn’t the show for all the reasons you list. I sensed something was badly amiss in Ep. 1 when Michael kept being clueless to Geo. Michael’s privacy concerns and it never was even slightly funny.

  • Ogi

    couldn’t disagree more with everything.

  • Harry Odemwingie Williams

    Please look at the background of nearly every scene, in nearly every episode that intelligently strings together the characters and scenes in a manner that no other show does. The writing in this article is great, but to describe this season as ‘bad TV’ is nothing short of unintelligent. I implore you to re watch it with better focus on every aspect of it; from the supporting artists to the direction. I hate to see such a good writer so oblivious to such great writing.

  • Harry176

    if you are going to critique a show, observe the back ground. the success of this season comes from the illusion of a show having to focus on each character, when the real brilliance happens in the background, stringing the episode and character together. Is a very intelligent and subtle comeback whilst maintaining a broadness that can appeal to an unintelligent audience. Please focus on every aspect of the show. However you article is very well written.

  • Kristoph

    People don’t want to see the same shit over and over again. This is why shows like Family Guy suck big donkey balls. Arrested Development, on the other hand, took a chance and changed the vibe of their show every season. In addition to this, the fact that the new season was distributed via a new and unique means, it seems very logical that this season was shot the way it was and progresses the way it does. On the note of guest appearances, the majority of guest appearances in season four were characters introduced in seasons one through three. Also, if you had the opportunity to cast stars for supportive roles in a television series, then you had damn well better do it. You obviously do not understand the comedy of this show, and never have, if you can’t get the joke of Ron Howard being used so frequently in this season. Lastly, the reason that all seasons of Arrested Development seemed so off the cuff to you is because lots of the jokes and their delivery were exactly that, ad-libbed. Nice try at writing a review though. The thing is, though, that in order to write a convincing review, or any piece for that matter, you have to interlace your opinion with those things called facts. Otherwise it is just senseless drivel that could have been written by a four year old.

  • David

    You have such a myopic view of this season; let me explain.
    There is too much: let me sum up.

    Your entire criticism is predicated on what you THINK you know: they shot it this way because they only had the actors one day at a time, Ron Howard has an unbridled, unchecked ego, the makers “know they’re cool”. All I hear is a thoroughly unhappy viewer who wasn’t prepared for the innovation of this season.

    I could go into more about how the format used what is known about Netflix viewers to its advantage, how each episode breathed life into every other one, and how much… Y’know what? I’m GLAD you don’t get it.

    This was always a percentage show. Now you are on the outside.
    Good riddance.

  • John Beard

    I don’t think you really get Arrested Development, because the new season had all of the depth, intricacy, and cleverness of the first 3 seasons. I was amazed at the number of background jokes and minor running jokes throughout the season. I noticed that a lot of people have been saying people like the new season only because they are “trying to like it.” I think the larger effect is people trying to find things not to like about the new season. It’s as if some people have gone in with negative expectations.

  • Charlie

    Yeah, we all wish the show was never cancelled and the series continued on it’s previous path, before the Queen Mary incident. But it’s been 7 years and it would be unrealistic to believe a group of adults who hate each other would stay together throughout that time. I think the writers did well to adapt to an odd situation, and they showed how the characters developed and set things up for a, hopefully, more ensemble approach to season 5.

    No this season isn’t as good as the previous 3, but it’s definitely not bad TV. Not even close. Season 4 of Arrested Development is better than the unwatchable, Tech-Joke obsessed, sitcoms now filling Network lineups.

  • John

    I liked it a lot more towards the end. That’s when it started to pick up.

  • John

    I liked it a lot more towards the end. That’s when it started to pick up.

  • STEVE HOLT

    The only thing I didn’t like about this season was the fact that we really never got the whole family together, and that’s what made the original show great. Plus, Buster never really got a true chance to shine except in his own episode.

  • awaiken

    I agreed with this review on the first 3 episodes but it hit its stride around the 4th or 5th episode and the season has been amazing from then on. Another season please.

  • Rich Marin

    I’m sorry, but you are incorrect. This is exactly the sort of review that the original series got all the time and it was just as incorrect then. Give it a couple years, watch it a couple more times, and realize that you’ve made a huge mistake.

  • Gene Parmesean

    1: That’s not why the episodes were shot like that; this was a decision of the creators of the show to approach the common events from a variety of interwoven angles.

    2: There aren’t that many celebrity guests. Only a few celebrities actually play themselves. If you’re referring to the large number of famous guest stars, I still don’t see what you have to be upset about. The guest starts are too famous? How dare Mitch Hurwitz and Co….

    3: I don’t think Ron Howard is putting himself in the show because of his “ego”. It’s to add even more layers and connectivity to the season. I don’t personally think it makes things extremely funnier than if he were not in it, but it does make things interesting.

    4: I think you’re right in the sense that the show is aware of how “cool and successful” it is, but the result was not lazy writing. This season was so intricately interwoven that I can’t even begin to understand how it could have been written. It’s a testament to the incredible minds of Mitch Hurwitz and the other writers that they are clever enough to come up with this. I don’t think the vast complexity of the season made it better, but it certainly did not come about as a result of “laziness”.

    I do agree, though, that this season was lacking. I think that Getaway’s right: the reason for this not living up to the first three seasons is that the ensemble wasn’t together, and that the characters strayed from aspects of their personas that made the show so funny.

    PS: You’re not the only one who loves Isla Fischer <3

  • tobias

    you sound like a pretentious little hipster pussy complaining about the mainstream. The celebrity guests added so much more to the story line of the show, how can you not love ron howard reuninitng with “the fonz” (henry winkler). all the cast mates were intertwined with each other at different points of the show except maybe tobias and george senior. The only missing element was a proper ending, which hopefully indicates the possibility of a 5th season. It was hard to acclimate to the new form of story telling, starting from a present event and working backwards; but other than that, this was way better than the first 3 seasons.

  • Tobias

    you sound like a pretentious little hipster bitch complaining about the mainstream. The celebrity guests added so much more to the story line of the show, how can you not love ron howard reuninitng with “the fonz” (henry winkler). all the cast mates were intertwined with each other at different points of the show except maybe tobias and george senior. It was hard to acclimate to the new form of story telling, starting from a present event and working backwards; but other than that, this was way better than the first 3 seasons.

  • Levi Allgood

    I loved it, sorry Miss Jana.

  • b.n

    this seems a lot like a list of complaints from someone who “loves” to overwhelm people with their opinion.

    maybe you should spend less time in giving your own opinion out and more time focusing on being a better writer. Basically, no one cares for a writers own opinion when reading an article and instead look for worth while points about the show (be it good or bad).

    go to writing work shop,(heres my opinion about your writing.style) you suck

  • Ethan

    So glad someone else agrees. I too think the only reason people like the season is because they love the show too much and refuse to see the faults. I loved AD’s first three seasons but this one is just not funny at all and poorly organized. I’m getting pretty sick of hearing people say “it’s good the second viewing” (which is stupid, something should always be good the first time) or “it gets good around episode 5.” (so a whole third of the season sucks?) It’s like listening to a battered housewife. A bad season is a bad season. Period.

  • Poposhka

    (Light thematic spoilers)

    I was also really disappointed in AD4, it quickly became apparent that we were making ourselves laugh. normally, I would have plowed through this season overnight, but I couldn’t bear watching more than one episode a night. For a while we even stopped watching, forcing ourselves to come back to it.

    Our biggest gripe is how they changed the characters. With a couple of exceptions. George Michael. I always loved the way they portrayed his first awkward steps into manhood (Cera is amazing at this), and the way they handled this in AD4 was great. Buster. Fantastic as usual, although i think they overdid him a bit, too norman bates psycho crazy. The subtle social anxiety was much more fitting where you can’t tell if he has a bonafide mental disorder or is just quirky. In AD4, it becomes obvious he needs help, you can’t laugh at that. Lindsay was good too.

    The other characters just seemed to be too much over the top. What was fun with Tobias was the fact that the family wanted to avoid the fact he probably was gay, now it becomes obvious and rubbed into our faces. GOB became obnoxious, i loved his ridiculous self confidence and arrogance. In AD4 all of a sudden they make him a sniveling version of Quagmire. What was great about Michael was that he was the one character you could relate to. Now he is often creepy and needy and unsympathetic.

    Lucille was good, Lucille 2 I never liked, but at least they stopped the constant falling over jokes.The George-Oscar-Lucille triangle was weak and uninteresting. Actually George was completely dull and felt more like an extra taking the back seat to Lucille.

    The whole “showing situations from different perspectives” thing was just outrageously annoying and after a while it felt like you were watching the same episode over and over, except it got less funny.

    But to be fair, the last couple of episodes had some really funny moments, and in general there were gems that made it not a total waste of time watching the season.

  • kreoth

    BTW, Jana, do not pay attention to the hysterical fanbois bashing you. You are in good company (besides me): the New York Times’ review of ADS4 was even more scathing than yours, although the points were similar.

    • Russmac316

      Yeah, except that New York Times article was incredibly biased. It was the first review on the web and he didn’t even finish the season, he watched like 6 episodes. That’s called “Oh, I’m so cool because I can bash something popular before everybody else”, not actually doing his job. At least Jana appears to have watched the entire season before making an evaluation.

      Were you a fan of the original series?

  • kreoth

    I am so glad to see I am not the only one to feel that AD S4 stank big time. I actually couldn’t finish it!!! (and I FFd through it a number of times).

  • Russmac316

    I think part of it, Jana, is a matter of tempering expectations. The season couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. This is usually the case in these types of situations unfortunately. However, if you followed any of Mitch Hurwitz’s interviews both before and after the season had been released you knew what you were about to watch. Mitch himself said he doesn’t see these as “episodes” but rather one large, interweaving episode to get you “caught up” to today so they can continue the story. This would be with whatever they end up doing next (season 5 or the feature film) presumably with the family together.

    Now, I do agree with the ensemble part. I really do hope they plan to do the rest of this story with the family together because the dynamic certainly works better, but it’s still hilarious in its own right.

    I don’t think there was an ounce of “trying to be clever” when they shot the episodes due to availability. The season wouldn’t exist if they weren’t able to do it that way…I really don’t think there’s anything to “see through” there. I’d personally prefer the ensemble like I said above but I’d rather have this than no more Arrested Development. It’s still better than 90% of the crap on today in this format.

    I also agree with you on the guest stars. I really do not believe it hurt the show it just seemed unnecessary. Honestly though, you never know with these guys, there could be a method to that madness that hasn’t been revealed yet, either. Remember, the “Bluth Movie” is being created. I have a theory that Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig could be a part of Ron Howard’s “Bluth Movie”. It seemed odd that they would use guest stars in those spots when they had used Jessica and Jeffrey in (hilariously) horrible wigs and clothing in the past. Who knows, I could be wrong, but I’ve grown to know better than to doubt these guys.

    I’d say give it a second chance knowing what you know now…the episodes are actually funnier (even the slower ones, in my opinion) after you know how the story plays out. There is so much jam packed into the episodes that you cannot possibly see them the first time through. I’d also suggest not binging them. There are very few things that are actually enjoyable binging on.

    Last thing, try to see it as something separate from “Season 4″. Maybe as prelude to the story continuing in whatever they release next. Season 4 implies that it is an extension of what Seasons 1-3 were. The story and characters continue, yes, but it’s misleading to say it’s exactly the same as it was.

  • P. Daddy

    I agree with all the people commenting. Season 4 is brilliant, pure genius. If you didn’t like it is because you didn’t get it because you are stupid. There. I said it.

    • Jana Stambaugh

      Thanks for reading and thanks for your honesty.

  • Chris McLafferty

    Schedule conflicts may have been why the character based individual shows was created, but it doesn’t make what they made any less clever. In fact I believe it’s quite the opposite. Getting more Gob, Lucille Bluth, Maeby, and Tobias is exactly what I’ve always hoped. The family is so interesting it’s opened so many better viewing opportunities to see what each of them is doing. How they were able to tie in everything makes the show that much more suspenseful and interesting. I love that they’re doing what too many good shows are unable to do.. adapt and evolve.

    • Jana Stambaugh

      I appreciate the reminder to “adapt and evolve.” Good thoughts. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  • http://drayfish.wordpress.com/ drayfish

    I’m sorry to hear that you missed the rhythm of the new show, but I do encourage you to give it a second watch. Everything that you are asking for – the comic style, the awkwardness in character and plot, the interlocking of these people’s lives – all of it is here in the fourth season, indeed magnified exponentially.

    By necessity (but also as a product of the story that it needs to tell – this family has, after all, splintered apart) the plot has scattered, but it is all still masterfully, hysterically interlocked. Rather than judge it by individual episodes, expecting it to recreate the experience of the old show in twenty minute allotments (which is, of course, impossible), if you approach it as one enormous evolved episode, it truly becomes one of the most innovative and ingenious narrative and comic experiences ever created.

    And my gods, the actors get to really dig into these wonderfully deluded
    characters in extraordinary ways. I really don’t think Michael Cera,
    Jessica Walters and Jason Bateman have ever been better.

    (I rattle on about this, and the expanse of Arrested’s fourth season further here: http://drayfish.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/bees-and-birds-and-bluths-oh-my-arrested-development-season-4/)

    Again, I’m sorry to hear that the season didn’t work for you, because for me, truly, it is the finest example of precisely how innovative, fluid and broad this show has always been.

    • Jana Stambaugh

      Thanks for your comment, Drayfish, and for your own careful review. I’m looking forward to a second viewing and the chance to see the fourth season as “one enormous evolved episode.”

  • Getaway

    Half of me agrees with every single point in this review, but the other half wants to continue to love Arrested Development. I think the problem is that we hardly get to see the entire Bluth family together as a dysfunctional, chaotic, disastrous mess.

    Another problem with the new fourth season is that in the episodes starring the more serious (as serious as you can get on a show like Arrested Development) characters like George, Sr., Michael, and George Michael (that’s a lot of Georges and Michaels), they’re missing the characters that provide the humor and keep the viewer interested and engaged on what’s going on in the episode. In some of the plot-building episodes, I found myself playing with my phone or facebooking (not a word, I know) on my laptop because the show wasn’t keeping my attention.

    They’re missing Lucielle’s cold, hateful, and crass attitude, Buster’s awkward man-child-panic-attack-having-shoulder-massage-givingness (and strange admiration for/obsession with his mother), G.O.B.’s idiocy, Lindsay’s selfishness, and Tobias’…EVERYTHING (couldn’t pinpoint just what makes Tobias Tobias. Ridiculousness, oblivious-to-the-world-around-him-and-ness, gayness?).

    Anyways, It’s those aspects of these characters that melted together oh so smoothly to create the show we love(d) so much. I think they should give it another shot with a fifth season, but, this time, let the actors know that it’s “all or nothing” with their availability and they’re doing it right this time.

    While watching the fourth season a second time around improves it greatly, I still found myself skipping George, Sr.’s second episode and going to G.O.B.’s and Tobias’.

    I still love the show, but I do hope all of the actors are completely available for whatever they do with Arrested Development next!

    • Jana Stambaugh

      Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate your delving into the ensemble piece and why that’s so essential a component to the show. Nice job.

      • Getaway

        No problem! And I will admit that while I’m not too crazy about the fourth season, “Getaway” by Mark Cherry is my new ringtone ;)

      • Alex

        Another problem not often discussed is the newfound gravitas the show has brought. It became more dramatic, the characters “deeper” in their trials and tribulations, the comedy of their tragedies for the first time became dramatically tragic. That isn’t bad in itself, it could be regarded as ambitious and brave even, but that is not warranty they will make it work, and I don’t think they did.

        The absurdity of the characters was a lot of what made the show fun, its reminiscence of reality what made it interesting. Suddenly the characters become too serious, their tribulations too real and their reactions lose a lot of their inherent absurdity and show us more of the real persons the characters wanted to mock. As they hadn’t been drawn like this before or for those purposes, instead of looking deeper, they are exposed as thinner. You realize they haven’t been developed to a relatable complexity so as to care, and so their trials become a little tiring. We keep trying to pull whatever laugh we can from them and we aren’t always able to, at least not as we could before.

        This is all made into a universe that had been created differently and so it now exposes that world also as flat. The universe of AD was never extremely real, yet always reminiscent of reality just as comedy should. It worked perfectly as a backdrop to the hillarious chaos of before, but now that the characters are posing as more complex, the AD universe seems too constricting for them. Add to that the relatively lower budget and you feel in quite a small universe, now devoid of the banana stand and the office that seemed familiar, while we get smaller less memorable sets, the old houses that now look empty, and the Imagine studios that seem smaller now that they lost the mystery of what they are. Add to that all that has been mentioned in the article and you get the new arrested development. It still has many assets, but those have been easy to come with as everyone is trying hard to like it and find the good in it.

      • Alex

        Another problem not often discussed is the newfound gravitas the show has brought. It became more dramatic, the characters “deeper” in their trials and tribulations, the comedy of their tragedies for the first time became dramatically tragic. That isn’t bad in itself, it could be regarded as ambitious and brave even, but that is not warranty they will make it work, and I don’t think they did.

        The absurdity of the characters was a lot of what made the show fun, its reminiscence of reality what made it interesting. Suddenly the characters become too serious, their tribulations too real and their reactions lose a lot of their inherent absurdity and show us more of the real persons the characters wanted to mock. As they hadn’t been drawn like this before or for those purposes, instead of looking deeper, they are exposed as thinner. You realize they haven’t been developed to a relatable complexity so as to care, and so their trials become a little tiring. We keep trying to pull whatever laugh we can from them and we aren’t always able to, at least not as we could before.

        This is all made into a universe that had been created differently and so it now exposes that world also as flat. The universe of AD was never extremely real, yet always reminiscent of reality just as comedy should. It worked perfectly as a backdrop to the hillarious chaos of before, but now that the characters are posing as more complex, the AD universe seems too constricting for them. Add to that the relatively lower budget and you feel in quite a small universe, now devoid of the banana stand and the office that seemed familiar, while we get smaller less memorable sets, the old houses that now look empty, and the Imagine studios that seem smaller now that they lost the mystery of what they are. Add to that all that has been mentioned in the article and you get the new arrested development. It still has many assets, but those have been easy to come with as everyone is trying hard to like it and find the good in it.

  • Topher

    Amateur hour over at the Baltimore Post-Examiner it seems

    • Topher

      I guess people don’t like shows anymore if you have to use your brain a little bit

      • Jana Stambaugh

        Thanks for reading and responding, Topher. I appreciate it.

        • Marlon Savin

          Jana, you were right about everything. The sheer volume of content in the opposing comments says it all. I am a big AD fan, as big as they come, but I hate to say, binge watching or no binge watching, IT WAS SHIT!

          I think it should have been a case of get the whole crew together or LEAVE WELL ALONE.

          Am I the only person that realises that what was a comedy classic, has now been left with the overriding memory of being just another poorly thought out revival attempt.

          I think Ron Howard should shoot himself in the face. And I really don’t understand what the hell these numbnuts are trying to prove with this “watch it again” nonsense.

          I can clearly point to the only belly laugh I had throughout S4, when Buster covered the nurse in toothpaste. Other than that the whole thing was a massive disappointment. And this is coming from a fan that WANTED so much for the whole thing to be a success, to be so funny it hurt my ribs, (like S1-S3).

          I have had a pretty busy year, and only just binge watched S4 yesterday. So I’m seven months behind all of this it seems. But I have to wonder, seven months on, what exactly do the ‘watch it again’ people have to say now?

          I blame the cast for not finding the time to be able to all work together in the same place at the same time, and I blame the writers for lack of due care and attention.

          Anyone that thinks we will see anything further from AD is dreaming. The punch in the face at the end said it all. I’m utterly, utterly disgusted. WTF were the writers thinking?

          WTF was anyone thinking?

          And why the hell are die hard fans running around with virtual shotguns going after anyone that criticises S4? WTF is that all about? I’m sorry but real AD fans should have been as pissed of as I am, not trying to defend a fucking massacre.

          The truth is, S4 could have been ONE episode on netflix, 90 mins long, all cast present, writers able to utilise the whole cast and do what they do best: Make funny. Not just any old funny, but the omg I’ve just peed a little bit by mistake funny.

          What was actually made has served only to push the series past a point of no return that it will not be able to recover from.

          Can someone please tell me how the series can have a future, now that the funny has been ripped out of each character, piece by piece, one drawn out episode at a time.

          I fucking pissed off. And all you dumbfucks that ran around defending this shit really need to get out there and find people to have sex with, as opposed to at home with the animals.

          I could go on. but I will save the rest of my ammunition for anyone that dares to reply.

  • Doug

    I could not agree more with this review. And watching it a second time just made me long even more for the ensemble show that AD used to be. Second viewing jokes included.

    • Jana Stambaugh

      Thanks, Doug. I appreciate you sharing that. :) I’ll see what the second viewing does for me…!!

  • sittingupmud

    *Spoilers*

    I thought the first episodes fell flat, but ended up loving Season 4 overall. I suspect, like its predecessors, it will only improve with subsequent viewings.

    I think some of the criticisms here just don’t hold up.

    For starters, I thought the structure was fine (if a bit unwieldy at times). I don’t think the single character focus was clever, or that it even intended to be “clever” (whatever the hell that means). I think it was a simple matter of pragmatism, and it was appropriate to the story being told (and even thematically relevant).

    

And really, were there that many more guests this time around than in the original 3 seasons, which included the likes of Charlize Theron, Martin Short, James LIpton, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Richter, Alan Tudyk, Henry Winkler, Scott Baio, Judge Reinhold, Bud Cort, Gary Cole, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, William Hung, Jamie Kennedy, Dan Castellaneta, Jeff Garlin, the Blue Man Group, Ben Stiller, Zach Braff, Carl Weathers, Dave Attell, Frankie Muniz, Christine Taylor, Ed Begley Jr., Liza Minnelli, and yes, even Ron Howard? And these were off the top of my head. There are probably more.

    

I think a sentiment like, “Why mess with perfection?” may give a clue as to your
    dissatisfaction. But I’m very glad they chose not to do a cynical retread of
    the first 3 seasons (It would have been so easy to just stick them all back in the model home). I think they took some chances that didn’t quite work (I really
    didn’t like Maeby’s story, for instance), but mostly I thought they paid off, and that even the callbacks that were present were appropriate and weren’t overplayed. As you said, “It’s the fact that [the] characters are so dorky, uncool, not trendy, spoiled, and completely deluded that makes [the] show so endearing.” I don’t see where that’s changed for any particular character. I mean, does Tobias becoming a sex offender make him cooler?

    For me, this may be the most curious sentence of the review: “The way it’s written now, it feels like it knows it’s cool and it knows it’s successful, so it doesn’t have to try very hard.” I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean exactly; maybe an example of where/how that shows up on screen would have been useful (it seems you’re implying it’s because of the celebrities that pop up, but as previously mentioned, there were always celebrities popping up). What it reads like is the sort of resentment that crops up (always) when some cult thing, some small indie band for example, suddenly becomes accepted by the larger culture.

    Lastly, the Isla Fisher thread absolutely worked for me. With all the incestuous Bluth antics, what’s greater than George Michael ending up with the woman his father has been pursuing, who happens to remind his father of his mother?

    I should say though, even though I don’t agree with your review, and I do hope you give Season 4 another shot, I certainly don’t think you’re dumb (and as a side note, I hope you don’t have to resort to watching The Killing).

    • Jana Stambaugh

      Thanks for the *Spoilers* warning. Very considerate. And thanks for the insightful analysis. I really appreciate your points. I’ll definitely give it another viewing. It’s bound to improve with subsequent viewings. :) Maybe this calls for Review, Part 2…

  • Vincent

    This was precisely my opinion at first, but I believe it had more to do with binge watching the show than anything else. I binge watched the first season a couple of years back when I first learned about this show, and I didn’t like it then either. It was during my second, slow rewatch that I fell in love with it. And it was during my third rewatch that I was able to spot all the nifty background clues and easter eggs.

    I made the same mistake with this season: I binge watched all the episodes on Sunday and posted some pissed reviews on some TV forums the next day. But now that I’ve taken a step back and am going at the rate of one episode a day, I’m starting to like it. Yes, the Michael-, George Sn.- and Lindsay-centric episodes aren’t very good (and I think this has less to do with how interesting the characters are and more to do with the amount of exposition in the episodes) but the Lucille-, Maeby-,George-Michael-, Michael, and Tobias-centric episodes certainly are, and the GOB-centric episodes definitely are.

    I think you’re quite right that having to focus on one member of the ensemble at a time worked to the show’s disadvantage, because these characters function best at types (Michael the sane one, Gob the incompetent one, Lucille the termagant, Lindsay the airhead, Tobias the clueless one, George Michael the timid one, George Sr. the bumbling patriarch, and Maeby the shrewd one), and the conceit used in this season has necessitated fleshing them out. I too would have been pleased to see more diverse interaction within the ensemble, because the humour is sharpest when certain characters’ personalities (Lindsay and Lucille, Michael and Gob) clash and create friction. I wouldn’t give the series anything more than a B+, but I definitely do not think it bad. Quite far from it actually. It’s not the best thing on TV right now, but it’s still better than much of the tripe on offer.

    • Jana Stambaugh

      Thanks for your careful analysis, Vincent. You could publish that here. I appreciate your thought and consideration. And I agree – there are worse shows on TV right now. Thanks for the friendly reminder.

      • Vincent

        You’re welcome :) I’m glad that I could influence your opinion of the show, if only ever so slightly.

        One minor addition: the other issue (besides the decision to focus on individual characters) that I believe hurt the show was that all the episodes were released at once on Netflix. Any show can be binge watched after it has first been taken in slowly, one episode at a time, but not all shows can be binge watched the first time. I believe shows like Friends or Scrubs are perfect for binge watching, not because they are lesser shows, but because they are thematically not as rich as shows like Arrested Development. I watched both shows for the first time in marathon viewing sessions over two weekends, but I don’t like them any the less for it. With shows like Arrested Development or Community, however, I need at least a day’s buffer to absorb an episode, read a couple of reviews, discuss it with friends, and deconstruct it thematically. My own experience is enriched this way.

  • Bob Loblaw

    I’m sorry to say this, but you are a ninny. Season 4 was amazing! It was funny, convoluted, and incredibly witty. I bet that in four years everyone will love this new season as much as the old seasons. You just wanted to hate it; you knew it wasn’t going to be the exact same thing as the old season. You mam, probably did not even get half the jokes; that’s because you are dumb.

    • Jana Stambaugh

      I haven’t heard a word like “ninny” in a long time. Maybe you should write for AD. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • Bob Loblaw

        Sorry for being so hard on you, mam. I think that you should watch the new season again. It gets a lot funnier. I missed so much on my first binge

        • Jana Stambaugh

          I’ll definitely give it another go. ;) Thanks again for your feedback.

    • Guest

      you’re the only dumb one here, moron

      read this articles comments section to hear what actual DIE HARD fans with an ACTUAL BRAIN said about the abortion/complete joke that season 4 was.

      http://www.idigitaltimes.com/articles/17851/20130527/arrested-development-season-4-sucks-netflix-terrible.htm

      get a clue, jackass ; )

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