Review: Arrested Development Season 4

Posted by Matthew on May 29, 2013
Television

Arrested Development Cast

It’s finally back. It’s finally back. Arrested Development was cancelled after just three seasons on Fox because despite critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base the series never gained enough rating to justify keeping it on the air (or so Fox said, many are dubious of this).

There have been various efforts to bring the show back through the 7 years since it’s cancellation but finally Netflix bought the rights, brought everyone back and now we have a 4th season. But is it the 4th season we’ve been waiting for? Yes and no.

The reason I say yes and no is because of the format of the season. Rather that structured episodically as with seasons one to three season four has one central story going onwhich we see from a different characters point of view in each episode. As [Jason Bateman put it](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/arrested-development-cast-sacrifices-season-4_n_2924665.html ):

“[T]he action across the episodes is happening simultaneously. If I’m driving down the street in my episode and Gob’s going down the sidewalk on his Segway, you could stop my episode, go into his episode, and follow him and see where he’s going.”

The down side to this approach is that because each episode follows a different character Michael isn’t always around to be straight man to the rest of the family’s crazy and I really do feel that they need a straight man in a lot of cases.

The strength of this format though is a brilliant level of narrative complexity. It’s kind of awesome to see characters running around in the background of one episode knowing that you’re going to get to find out what the hell is going on in a later episode.

Further to that point it also adds layers to the humour; You get to see the same joke play out from multiple points of view, after multiple threads lead to it, which means a lot of the best jokes are funny for a number of different reasons.

Sure, this occasionally comes off as a little too clever for its own good, but the majority of the time it’s pretty brilliant.

If I have any major complaints it’s that the season, despite being 15 episodes, plays out like the first act of a story. The ending doesn’t have resolution for everyone and leaves much open to still be explored. Netflix has been flip flopping slightly on whether it wants to continue with the show but at the end of the season I very much wanted to know what was going to happen next.

So is it Arrested Development Season 2 levels of funny? No, not it’s not. But is it good? Yes, yes it is. Is it the season 4 I’ve been waiting for? Close enough.

Rating = 8/10

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