Arrested Development Season Four review
Well, that was a freebie.
I should begin by stating there are spoilers below as this review covers the entire fourth season of “Arrested Development.”
That was one helluva way to spend a Sunday, right? “AD” faithful and critics alike tuned in all day to watch the entire fifteen episode fourth season on Netflix. After a seven-year departure from a screen of any sort, the Bluth family showed up again to catch us up on their up-and-down lives. It was glorious.
The entire cast returns for season four. Not only was there no need to recast the core group of cast members, but some of the more obscure characters from the “Arrested” canon appear, as well. All of the Veals right down to Tom the Bluth Company employee/ apparent sex offender show up. Barry Zuckercorn, Annyong, Lupe, Steve Holt (who has since graduated), Stan & Sally Sitwell, Tony Wonder, Lucille “2” Austero (with a key role in the season), Kitty, Gene Parmesan, Carl Weathers, Ron Howard, Mort the producer and the Richter quintuplets (Andy, Rocky, Chareth, Donnie and Emmitt) all make an appearance. Unfortunately, Martin Short’s Uncle Jack doesn’t swoop in to save the day as John Michael Higgins’ professional lawyer Wayne Jarvis also doesn’t show up to hide behind a desk or chair. Michael’s ex-fiancée, Rita (Charlize Theron), never appears either, but there are a few quick nods to Wee Britain.
Despite the vast impressiveness of re-assembling so many supporting characters, it’s the new additions that have viewers excited. First and foremost, the highly-anticipated casting of Seth Rogen (This is the End, Knocked Up) and Kristen Wiig (Despicable Me 2, Bridesmaids) as the younger versions of George Sr. and Lucille Bluth paid off exceedingly well. Rogen showed perfect timing for the Bluth patriarch’s (Jeffrey Tambor) bleeped obscenities as Wiig hit all of Jessica Walter’s (Lucille) rhythms and idiosyncrasies flawlessly. Seeing Rogen play George Sr. playing a doctor was directly reminiscent of George Sr.’s other videos like “Caged Wisdom” and the Cornballer infomercial. Seeing the cast of “Workaholics” (Adam Devine, Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Erik Griffen) pop up during the airport scene was a real treat considering “Arrested Development” creator Mitchell Hurwitz had a cameo appearance on the Comedy Central series. Broadway icon Tommy Tune joins the series as Lucille 2’s brother, Argyle. John Krasinski (“The Office,” Leatherheads) and “Community” creator Dan Harmon also make cameos.
Other new additions play major roles in season four. Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby, Hot Rod) plays Rebel Alley — Ron Howard’s illegitimate daughter with an acting career in Public Service Announcements. Terry Crews (The Expendables, White Chicks) plays Herbert Love — a philandering, conservative politician. While Fisher’s Rebel creates a lot of issues (if not the issue) between a few key Bluths, Crews’ Love is the swinging vote the Bluths need to make their property valuable again as well as the unwitting source of Maebe’s income. Voice actress Maria Bamford (“CatDog,” “Adventure Time”) plays Debris — a struggling actress addicted to drugs that may be the key to Tobias’s entertainment career.
However, it’s the returning core ensemble that made Sunday an extraordinary experience. It’s rather to rare to find an entire cast that enjoyed their roles and careers as much as the fans on any one respective, particular project. After getting the ax from Fox in 2006 despite winning a Golden Globe and multiple Emmys, “Arrested Development’s” long-awaited return to television via Netflix was well-worth the wait. Every actor and actress fluidly slips back into character as if they were merely on a vacation for a little while. It’s impossible to choose a standout as each performer completely nails it when it’s his or her time to shine.
Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman- Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief) remains the protagonist despite each character getting his or her own “arrested development.” Michael has hit some pretty rough times since we last saw him and so has his family. In the years since Lucille tried to escape the SEC, the Bluths have seen some gray skies. Season four begins with Michael debasing himself to clear his name of any debt to Lucille 2. From here, Ron Howard’s magical narration abilities weave a tale to describe the trials and tribulations of the Bluth family — Lucille’s trial, most notably. Following the absence of her family at her court hearing, the Bluth matriarch found herself in a luxurious, minimum-security prison which turned out to be the topic of a television program about the real incarcerated housewives of Orange County.
Maebe (Alia Shawkat- The Runaways, Whip It) continued her career as a film executive until her cousin George-Michael’s (Michael Cera- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Superbad) software seemed like the only way out of the bottom of her career (which apparently is a lifetime achievement award called an “Opie” in a nod to narrator Ron Howard’s role in “The Andy Griffith Show”). George-Michael experienced a roller coaster of success until his father moved in with no place else to go. George Sr. and Uncle Oscar went into business together with sweat lodges in Mexico as Lindsay (Portia de Rossi- “Better Off Ted,” “Ally McBeal”) met a face-blind activist named Marky Bark.
Lindsay’s husband, Tobias (David Cross- “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” Kung Fu Panda), continued his dreadful acting career without any further success despite a second “Scandalmakers” collaboration with Carl Weathers. All he has to show for it is a fresh sex offender certificate due to a mistake unwittingly set up by his own daughter. Gob (Will Arnett- “Up All Night,” The Brothers Solomon) was all over the map. He joined the entourage of a successful male pop artist, engaged Ann Veal, failed a magic trick at his wedding which led to a lengthy stay in a prop boulder and explored his curious side with Tony Wonder. Of all the characters, Buster (Tony Hale- Happythankyoumoreplease, “Veep”) appeared the most unchanged. Perhaps this makes the most sense as Buster’s entire life centers around his mother. Buster hit a rough patch while Lucille was in prison, but it didn’t completely change him. Perhaps the funniest moment of season four was Buster’s “assistance” in Lucille’s new smoking habit.
Michael shows up in each episode as a man on a mission to get a signature from each member of his family. The signatures would allow him to co-produce a film based on his own life that would be directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer at Imagine Entertainment. In the midst of this, Michael falls for a beautiful actress whom he wants to cast as his late wife, Tracy, in the film. However, this comes to a head when George-Michael discovers that he is dating the same woman as his father. The final scene of season four is George-Michael punching his father’s face before the credits roll and an extended “on-the-next-Arrested Development” scene plays. Netflix left us with a rather grim cliffhanger for whatever comes next for the Bluth family, be it another season or a feature film.
Will Michael get his movie made? Will George-Michael forgive his father? Will Lucille really divorce George Sr.? Will Maebe see success again via George-Michael’s software? Will Gob come out of the closet for real? Will Lindsay and Tobias rekindle their “romance?” Will Buster go to jail for inducing the coma of Herbert Love via his new, giant hand? Will Rebel choose Michael or George-Michael? I’ve found myself hooked to this program in a way that I wasn’t before. In addition to the best comedic writing in television history, “Arrested Development” now offers an in-depth look at each of the core characters to create a dynamic never-before-offered on a television program. After the success of “House of Cards” and now “Arrested Development,” Netflix appears to be on the verge of running the table when it comes to quality television.