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Arrested Development: Season 4 Premiere

By Natalie DiMaria · June 3, 2013

While watching the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix, I felt like I was nursing a delicious strawberry margarita; it was so good that I wanted to take my time and enjoy it and then all too quickly I was finished. 

Beginning in 2003, Arrested Development aired on Fox for three seasons until it was cancelled in 2006. Just like the great Emily Dickinson or Vincent Van Gogh, Arrested Development gained posthumous fame after being featured in its entirety on Netflix. With a surge of support the show’s fan base, both new and old, made it clear… they wanted more. Their voices were finally answered on May 26th with a special fourth season featured on Netflix. The fifteen-episode addition was a rare blessing bestowed upon a society that’s gotten used to seeing their favorite shows cancelled only to never resurface again. This time, however, we were lucky. We got to watch the Bluth family self-destruct once more.

Season four played out a little differently than the previous three. This time each episode was structured around a different character, instead of just Michael (Jason Bateman).  During the intro after our favorite narrator wittily explains that the Bluth family’s future had been “abruptly cancelled,” he specifies the focus of the episode by adding, “this is (insert character’s name)’s arrested development.” This change isn’t so obvious in the first episode as it’s done from Michael’s perspective, the show’s protagonist from since the pilot episode. However, as the season goes on, we can see how the writers have zoomed in on the show’s quirky supporting characters and I’m not sure if it works.  

Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) makes such a hilarious impact with her patronizing remarks because they are sporadic and therefore memorable. The same goes for Gob’s (Will Arnett) failed magic, Tobias’ (David Cross) acting ambitions, and Lindsay’s (Portia de Rossi) charity work. Sometimes less is more and these characters work better as the eccentric yin to Michael’s even keeled yang. 

However, because these vignette-style episodes allow us to focus in on each character, we have been introduced to a slew of new characters pertaining to their specific lives.  Creator Mitchell Hurwitz and his team of writers are unparalleled when it comes to writing original and downright hilarious characters. Some notable additions to the group are Kristin Wiig and Seth Rogan playing a young Luclile and George Bluth. Wiig does an especially strong impression of Lucille, right down to the mannerisms. George Michael’s Asian American college roommate “P-Hound” (Richard Jin Namkung), has facial expressions that speak volumes. Other great additions are Oscar’s (Jeffrey Tambor) hippy dippy friends and cohabitants in the desert, Heartfire (Mary Lynn Rajskub), China Garden (Karen Maruyama), and Dr. Norman (John Slattery). Heartfire communicates solely through thoughts, and China Garden fell in love with Dr. Norman, a disgraced anesthesiologist, while he was in jail.

This season also feels different because it takes place seven years later. The characters have grown up and are in completely different places than when we last saw them.  Though I was looking forward to a bounty of chicken dances and blue faces, I can appreciate how Hurwitz refrained from making this installment a nostalgic dedication to the show’s past. There were of course nods to past jokes and continuations of storylines, but altogether the show looked and felt like something new. I was just so happy to see my family again, I didn’t care what Lindsay’s hair color or length was.  

Despite the show’s makeover, the foundation of brilliant writing and exceptional acting remains. These new episodes are full of the same witty dialogue, puns, and subtle humor we know and love. Hopefully fans will embrace the novelty and not fixate on the past or refuse to advance. You wouldn’t want to suffer from Arrested Development now, would you?