When we last left the Bluths, Lucille was attempting to escape the SEC by stealing the Queen Mary, yes the cruise ship, while a scared Buster who had fallen off tried to outrun the very seal that had bitten off his hand. Oscar, Gob, Maeby, Lindsay and Tobias were taken along for the ride and Michael and George Michael decided to ride off into the sunset on Gob’s yacht that George Sr. had also snuck aboard on. Then Fox decided that one of the best shows on television should be cancelled, as they had already taught us with Firefly, leaving us like Gob abandoned Steve Holt until Netflix swooped in and greenlit a fourth season.
Just like that, the years of waiting and false hope from a seemingly forever stalled movie were justified with a forthcoming new season that only grew in size and scope as development started. I even stayed up until 3:01 a.m. EST to watch it all for this very review and beyond passing out around 9 in the middle of the second Gob episode and having to restart from there when I woke up, nothing could stop me. I, just like so many other fans, had been waiting for this moment. The question is, could this season live up to the inflated expectations of a cult classic returning to the screen?
Oh god yes. It’s almost as if Arrested Development never left us. If you can look past the fact that most of the principal cast has clearly aged, nothing has changed. The same running jokes return with so many more brand new ones. This is the Arrested Development we know and love and thanks to Netflix, Mitchell Hurwitz and the rest of the team, we are once again welcomed into the world’s most dysfunctional family to see what happens when they all decide they’re sick of each other. Now we have 15 brand new episodes, each focusing on one character, that are at least 30 minutes long.
When the news of the single character focused episodes broke, I was cautiously optimistic. We were told that each episode would catch us up on one Bluth family member’s activities up to the point where the Arrested Development film would start. That is true, to an extent. Certain characters get multiple episodes which would have been the result of an increased episode order, though it does feel completely natural.
Season 4 does cover a 5 year time frame, but they have constructed it in a way where, according to them, you can watch every episode in any order you want. While I don’t know if I could recommend it, especially for the characters who have multiple episodes, it is easily possible. Both of the other people I was watching with passed out and woke back up and different points and still enjoyed everything they watched of season 4. I was the only one who watched everything in order, but they enjoyed it just as much as I did.
It isn’t just that this is more Arrested Development, plenty of shows have returned with just more. This new season is the natural evolution that the show would have taken plotwise and as a show. The television scene isn’t the same as it was in 2006 and season 4 reflects that. It doesn’t mean your favorite jokes won’t return, but that you may have new favorites. There was a particular reference to a film that kept reappearing that had me in stitches every time.
Arrested Development Season 4, a Netflix semi-original series, is everything you want it to be. It is the Arrested Development you have been waiting all this time for and is so much more. Even now, the show’s audience has clearly grown as twitter explodes with people who don’t get one of the new recurring jokes. Arrested Development has found a wider audience, but those of us who have been around since the beginning will find that nothing has changed from the show we love. This is how you bring a series back.