'Arrested Development' season four split
Against season four
Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 8, 2013 22:09
Arrested Development is one of my favorite shows. I know this isn’t exactly a brave statement, considering the widespread critical acclaim the show has received since it first aired in 2003, but it needs to be stated outright. Even the episodes that weren’t so highly rated (read: most of the third season) I firmly believe they are representative of the highest level of comedy ever made. Mitch Hurwitz, the show’s creator and producer, is undoubtedly genius, and worthy of whatever awards we can possibly give him. But at the same time, perhaps we need to ask Mr. Hurwitz to put down the bottle of booze, because I am of the firm opinion that were he sober, he would absolutely never have given season four his approval.
To put it bluntly, the fourth season isn’t good. It’s not bad either, by normal television standards, but compared to the rest of the series, I’m not even sure it should be allowed to call itself Arrested Development. The new season has two main gimmicks. The first is that it mostly serves as a catch up, showing us what the Bluth family has been up to since the show was cancelled in 2006, which means that a large part of what you’ll be watching will be no more than glorified flashbacks. The second gimmick is that each episode is focused around one character, with the other characters occasionally crossing over into each other’s episodes.
I’m not sure who thought that these were good things, but they certainly have a lot to answer for. First of all, the bizarre timeline that the show provides just makes the whole thing borderline unwatchable. I practically needed a whiteboard and charts just to keep track of who was doing what and when. During the original series, everything took place along the same timeline, and it was easy to keep track of where you were. Now, half the time when I’m watching the series, I couldn’t tell you if I’m watching something happening currently, or whether I’m watching a flashback.
The horribly confusing aspects are made no better by the fact that the show just isn’t really funny anymore. The humor in the original series really came from the way that the idiot Bluths interacted not only with others, but mainly with each other. By dividing each episode to focus only on a single character, you lose what made the show great in the first place, especially since not every character is equally funny. I’m sorry, but George Sr. is not a terribly remarkable character when you don’t have Michael there to be frustrated by him. The fact that not every character is even equally represented just aggravates the problem. We have some characters with multiple appearances, as well as multiple episodes, but then we have characters like Buster, arguably one of the few characters who can be funny standing alone, who get one episode, and basically zero visibility.
Look, if you’re a die-hard Arrested Development fan, then by all means, go ahead and watch season 4, but don’t expect to come out of it feeling like you’ve gained anything.