I’m in the awkward position of wanting to write about Arrested Development without spoiling it for everyone, including my editors who have yet to finish all fifteen episodes. I, on the other hand, watched six episodes starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, May 26. I fell asleep for a few hours then watched nine more. At times, I wished I hadn’t binged my way through the whole season, but at other times I was happy to power through. If I can make a recommendation, I would suggest not watching them straight through, which if you haven’t started already you probably won’t at all. You’re probably pacing yourself. Good thinking. I will use my best judgment to avoid spoiling anything for anyone. I’ll say as much as I can for those of you who are still in the process.
We should bear a few things in mind when enjoying the new Arrested Development episodes. First, they are longer than the old ones by upwards of ten minutes. More can be done in this time, but it also gives the characters a bit of breathing room rather than sketch on top of cousin on top of Ann. The extra time gives a new feeling to the show and more gags make it into the final cut as opposed to the ruthless editing we see in the old seasons.
The season evolves around a few central events, which, through each episode, we see through the eyes of a different family member. (Actually, Michael has two episodes, as does George Sr., Lindsay, Tobias, GOB, and George-Michael. Maeby, Lucille, and Buster only have one.) This makes some scenes in the initial episodes a bit hard to understand, but the jokes pay off in later episodes.
The season is indeed a puzzle with more pieces falling into place as every episode goes by. Some are not very uplifting, as the family has fallen on hard times (Oh, prison, shoddy land deals, and bankruptcy. So I guess kind of like the first three season). And yes, there are characters I wanted to see more of in the first few episodes, like Buster and GOB and George Michael. But as it turns out, they appear more in the second half of the season, so power through.
I was happy to see so many great themes come back. Ann as plant, Ann as egg, GOB’s panicked stuttering, Bees!, the comical miss-readings (mostly Tobias’), finishing each other’s sandwiches, sisters who “whore it up,” banners, getting blue/blown, hop-ons, and some pretty hot ham-water.
While they could have just run off the fumes of the old episodes–which maybe is what some of you had hoped for–I was actually happy to see the introduction of so many new running jokes like the “Showstealer Pro Trial Version” watermark over clips from old seasons. (I won’t spoil all of them.)
But seriously, whatever doubts you might have about the new season will be erased the more episodes you watch and the more times you watch them. Just like the old seasons, and Jessica Walter, the show gets better with age.
Image by Chris Favero.