Because I didn’t watch Arrested Development when it originally aired, I haven’t been waiting years for new material, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t excited to watch the fourth season.
I was pretty underwhelmed, to be honest.
Season four devotes each episode to a different member of the Bluth family – some of them have multiple episodes while others are relegated to one. The storylines bounce across a period of five years, picking up where season three left off, but they are all somehow interconnected and end up converging at the annual “Cinco de Quattro” festival. If the first episode had been dedicated to showing the aftermath of Lucille’s attempted boat escape in order, it could have split off naturally, following each member as they went on their way, instead of jumping back to that point in each new episode.
There are two major problems with this set up.
1) What’s With the Ostriches?
Because the story is told in such a disjointed way, it can be confusing to follow. It’s hard to keep track of what’s happening “now” versus what happened at a previous point over the past five years. There is a feeling of satisfaction when puzzle pieces start fitting together and you start to understand certain scenes, but there’s also impatience and frustration when you have to wait three episodes for a simple question to be answered.
There’s also an ostrich reference in each episode but I can’t figure out what it means (here, apparently, is the explanation). All it did was make me think of the time Jason Bateman was on Scrubs and one of his ostriches stole Turk’s hat (which is hilarious).
2) Love Each Other
The Bluths are at their strongest when they’re all together (or at least interacting with each other). There are lots of moments when at least two Bluths are together, but only a handful of scenes where the whole family is present. I understand that it was hard to get all the actors at the same time because of other filming commitments, but it made the first half of the season drag until it finally picked up with the first Gob-centric episode (episode 7). Most of the other characters’ episodes were mediocre (even Lindsey’s which was disappointing because I love Portia de Rossi) though Tobias’ storyline was kinda funny and Buster’s because Buster is great. George Michael’s episodes were a highlight too, but that’s mostly because of Michael Cera’s comedic timing (he’s so awkward).
In terms of guest stars: I did like the return of Ann (who?) and Tony Wonder and, of course, Barry Zuckercorn and Bob Loblaw. Rebel Alley was an interesting addition, and who doesn’t love Andy Richter and his four identical brothers? There was a lot of focus on Ron Howard as a character (not just a narrator) though, which got tiresome, probably because it was spread out over the season and not limited to a 1-2 episode arc.
I guess it’s worth a watch, but you might want to wait until they confirm another season or a movie because there are still some loose ends that need to be resolved.