Arrested Development: Season 4 created by Mitchell Hurwitz (Imagine Entertainment, Hurwitz Company)
Starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walter.
*Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons*
That One Time He Studied Abroad
Even if it hasn’t happened to you, surely you’ve encountered the story where a best friend moves halfway across the world for a season, only to return a completely different person. The friend you made no longer exists, replaced with somebody with new passions and convictions.
For me, Season 4 of Arrested Development represents that long-lost friend returning after a prolonged sabbatical.
After years of maneuvering to return the cast of this cult classic for a continuation of the story, planets aligned when Netflix bought the rights.
Yet, creator Mitchell Hurwitz faced a dilemma. His stars are busy people managing their own projects spanning the wide spectrum of entertainment. To expect each actor to carve out extensive time for the return of this sitcom would be unwise and even insane.
So Hurwitz needed an innovative way of dealing with schedules while maintaining the Arrested Development brand.
The solution? Craft each episode with a specific main character offering a unique perspective to an overarching single narrative. In other words, Season 4 of Arrested Development is one episode told through 15 distinct episodes.
Season 4 returns to the concluding passages of Season 3 where Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) commandeers the Queen Mary attempting to avoid the SEC on open waters.
This season’s narrative surrounds the specific ways in which each family member attempts to put together the pieces of their broken family. Michael (Jason Bateman) wants to make a movie of the family’s putrid existence; George Michael (Michael Cera) is designing software while finishing college. George (Jeffrey Tambor) wants to buy property on the U.S./Mexico border and convince the government to build a wall between the two countries, forcing the United States to buy the land off him. Tobias (David Cross) is still trying to act and failing miserably; Lindsay (Portia di Rossi) is trying to find herself in a new initiative, and Maeby (Alia Shawkat) decides it’s time to finish high school.
The storylines, true to Arrested Development style, are ludicrous and hilarious. But the brilliance, and annoyance, of Season 4 resides in its format.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Hurwitz masterfully created a method that succeeds in creating humor and meeting the demands of his stars without resorting to an unkempt farrago, or a confused mixture. And truthfully, I laughed deeply and quite often throughout this season.
Season 4 is a step away from that best friend I made 10 years ago. It uses the same language, walks with the same quirkiness I grew to love, but has encountered a fundamental shift at its core.
I’ll continue to watch Arrested Development, especially considering rumor suggests Netflix has greenlighted Season 5. But it will never be the same. I just need to come to accept the new series for what it is.
Verdict: 3 out of 5