To bring back an iconic TV show like “Arrested Development” could not have been an easy task. But we fans have been demanding it for seven years. The show’s creator and the actors have been hinting at the return for just as long. What felt like an ongoing cruel joke of hints and innuendos by these people, it was announced last year Netflix would be the only one who could bring this family back together.
And now we have it. The near-mythical fourth season of “Arrested Development” has finally arrived. And right away, people began to hate it.
I was awake at the 2:00 a.m. mark when the season was available to stream. And like many people, I was unsure about the quality and where it was going. Unlike many people, I did not jump the online gun and begin to moan about how weak it was. Because here is the thing about the new season: It is formatted and written and edited not for a regular TV time slot. It is meant for a streaming service where people need to take time to digest the thing.
By the time I finished the season (I watched half in the early hours, went to bed and watched the remainder when I awoke) I thought it was amazing. It is layered in ongoing jokes that, upon re-watching the first couple of episodes again, make them much more funny than the first time through.
I found this true with the original three seasons. There are some jokes you will not catch the first time through. That is what makes “Arrested Development” so great. The writing is clever and it has always required more than one viewing to appreciate a lot of the more subtle jokes.
While the new season does have its flaws, like jokes going on longer than needed to get to the punchline, it’s much better than most TV shows out there.
Also, I like the fact it’s formatted differently and jumps around in timelines. Each episode focuses on an individual character (due to the actors’ time availability, it was the only way this could ever have been possible) and not on the entire ensemble cast. This is another complaint I’ve read about; people saying they should have waited for when everyone was available to do this. But people seem to not know that “Arrested Development” is not these people’s main jobs anymore. It’s not like they are set to a certain amount of seasons by contract, so this is the only way to do it. And the characters to interact with one another in the episodes, they are not exclusively just a “Michael Bluth” episode or a “GOB” episode, the characters stories bleed into one another’s.
It is a little confusing with the jumping around timelines in the episodes. But that just goes with the show’s evolution on a new format. After re-watching the episodes, it gets easier to know what is going on and when.
And I enjoyed the new call-back jokes. They included many of their older jokes, but did not make that a crutch. I appreciate that. I think the show would not be as good if they just relied on the old jokes and called it a day.
My own personal issue with the new season is the overload of celebrity cameos. It gets a bit daunting at times and often found them unnecessary.
But overall, I found it to be as funny as it ever was. For some, it will never live up to its former self. But for me, it has gotten better.