Arrested Development 4×15, ‘Blockheads’

Attested Development: AnonymouSPOILERS

 

This is a finale masquerading as a show-opener.  It moves rather slowly, spending a lot of time reshowing old clips, which feel particularly long if you’re just holding your breath waiting for some great denouements and are counting the minutes the season has left.  It focuses on one issue more than the other episodes, making the watcher feel that this is a true branching-off point for the show where relationships will evolve and new territory lies unexplored.  “Blockheads” takes us right up to the edge of this bold, new world and then…abruptly punches us in the face.  Because that’s where it stops.  I would have been very happy if this had been the first episode of the series.  As just an episode of a great show, it’s adequate at first and then very exciting as you realize how it will change the tone.  As the finale of this particular, long-awaited season…all I can say is that I’d better get my denouement SOON, GODDAMMIT.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS

1. Really, Michael, a cactus?  Why is a cactus the present you’re bringing?

2. I really, really want this Rebel-off between the Bluth men to involve SOMEONE wearing a kilt.

3. The Gerard Depardieu jokes are great.

4. Gob is surprisingly resourceful about this whole house-filling venture.  I bet he could come up with some housing cons as good as George used to.

5. How does Lucille2 have so much money if she always supports the failing Bluth Company?  Austerity seems to make money from celebrities, but it’s not like her lifestyle is cheap, plus she’s got plenty of rehab bills for herself.

6. Now that Tom’s a sex-offender it makes his behaviour towards George Michael at the Bluth Christmas parties…different.

7. Guy Fawkes masks….the Richter quintuplets, maybe?

8. Who do you think is responsible for Lucille2’s vanishing act?

Arrested Development 4×13, ‘It Gets Better’

Attested Development: Overtly SPOILERS

 

Okay, this episode was difficult for me the first time around.  First of all, I found it difficult to really enjoy George Michael’s new swagger and college exploits while knowing he still ends up trying to do woodblock things into Julliard.  *facepalm*  The characterization just didn’t track for me at all.  Second, the chicken dance was something I’ve been looking forward to All Season Long and then to finally almost get one,  a NEW ONE even, and then just cut him off before he does it???  I am still disgruntled.  Third, the stories coming together and connecting with other episode pieces seems much longer in this one-more reshowing of things like the traffic cancellation calls and the voting thing that just really missed the mark for me.  Fourth, when they said he was just beginning to lie my brain kept going, “But-but!-Lying to Maeby to get her to come back to their fake wedding!  Lying about seeing Les Cousins Dangereux!  Lying about visiting Pop-Pop in prison!  Etc.!”  It’s been long established that George Michael lies his ass off to try and get close to Maeby and it felt disappointingly inconsistent for the show to play it off as new.  Plus, the second the woodblock is heard, the whole joke and tale behind this lie is known to the audience, so it had no surprise value.  These are the reasons I was decidedly Disappointed when I watched this episode.

 

It does improve on second viewing-I know what I can’t expect to happen and I’m not sitting there going “Why are they showing more old scenes instead of just the tidbit we actually need to connect them-the season is almost OVER and you’ve got THINGS TO DO!”  This time I could relax more into the new things and enjoy the parts that are actually new in this episode: Getting rid of all the old vehicles!  Gob-shirts!  Sexual awakenings, ole!  And these parts that are purely about George Michael’s new adventure, not connecting with any other part of the season, are gold.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS:

1. You never, EVER have a college student refuse donations.  Ever.  This is just blasphemy, everyone, even for the Bluths.

2. Do you think a Les Cousins Dangereux poster is now hiding under his bullfighting poster?

3. I do like how George Michael cock-blocks himself with math.

4. One day George Michael’s bastard will meet Michael’s bastard with Not-Blind-Maggie while each thinks the other is the pimp of the woman he loves and wants to rescue from prostitution or something.

5. “You’re a terrible mother.”  Smooth, George Michael, smooth.

Arrested Development 4×12, ‘Senoritis’

Attested Development: Lifetime SPOILERS Award

 

To me, Maeby’s always seemed like the glue of the series, rather than the sparkle or the cloth.  She brought out George Michael’s issues with his dad, manipulated her parents, and generally went around running into people to keep everyone up on their doings and finding new ways to exploit others’ absurdities.  This episode is basically exactly what I expected a Maeby-centric episode would be.  It’s more spongecake keeping up a comedy fruit that feels separate from what’s actually happening here.  Most of my enjoyment stemmed from noting how Maeby is growing more like other family members, how she’s changed, how she affects George Michael, etc., rather than anything in this particular plot.  Thus, she’s become the glue of desserts-spongecake with fruit, rather than anything sweeter or more layered.  But it did hold the very specific satisfactions of allowing longtime fans to experience the historically-based humor and to see Maeby symbolize the show at large by being in the same skewed circumstances as previous seasons and realizing that it’s good to have change.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS:

1. This plot did have the biggest hole-Maeby wanted something incriminating on the undercover cop because she thought she might have been seen in the bar (presumably by him or his cop friends and so the danger lay in him knowing she was over highschool age), so she comes up with a plan to keep him from using this knowledge that is based on him believing she’s still 17?  That makes no sense.  I mean, if she thought she had a window to have sex with him before his cop friends could tell him she’s older that would make the best of it…but she didn’t act like it was a race and if she had ended up having sex with an undercover cop who thought she was underage, surely the other cops, who would be the proof that she was really 23, would back up their fellow cop as knowing she really wasn’t a minor.  *throws up hands*

2. There were not enough ostriches.  Apparently the school’s team is the Ostriches, shouldn’t there have been a mascot running around?

3. That’s what Barry’s move should be-masquerade as the Ostrich Mascot at a game.

 

Arrested Development 4×11, “A New Attitude”

Attested Development: And listen to the sound…of SPOILERS.

This is the best episode this season.  This is what I expect of Arrested Development: the most messed up friendship beginning ever.  Also, Sally’s sly instead of perfect!  Ann’s conniving instead of egging!  Gob both makes progress, yet screws things up awfully!  Tony Wonder matches him wonderfully.  This episode is awesome.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

1. Okay, what is that stuffed animal in the corner of Tony’s place?  A bear?  If so, why is it so short?

2. George Michael really doesn’t have that much cause to complain here.  After all, this time Gob just kissed him, instead of getting to third base like last time they hung out.

3. I’m assuming Tony’s fake chin-hair is composed of lucky rabbits’ feet.  That might come off as he’s eating a frozen treat sometime and he can accost the sellers of said treat with the fact that “It tasted like a foot!”

4. Gob totally listened to Michael when he used to go on about being the only one with the “sweet sting of sweat on his brow”!  Aw, brotherly love surfaces.

5. Destroying Our Life is the name of Tony Wonder and Gob Bluth’s new DVD.  They will put their initials, WB on it all showily and then get sued by Warner Brothers.

6. Clearly, Sally is not the great marketer if she needs that much money to brand a magician gay.

7. Who wants to bet Tony likes to make love to “Your Body is a Wonderland”?

8. Ah, the Explaining-the-Fuck-Out-of-Everything disease.  Tony, I’m afraid you’ve been infected by Ron Howard.

Arrested Development 4×1 “Flight of the Phoenix”

Attested Development: SPOILERS can’t be voted out.

 

Overall, I feel this was a weak start to the series.  Michael as the straight man is incapable of making me laugh the way I’d been looking forward to Arrested Development making me laugh for years.  I had expected Michael to have a break in Cabo for at least a couple days.  Then he’d come back due to a George deal or something, but still-expectations.  Plus, Michael was always the one who was supposed to have options, which made him staying with his kooky family so telling and poignant.  Being hit over the head with the message that nope, now he has no options whatsoever that don’t involve leaning on family members just undercuts that familiar dynamic and the breath of heartwarming that used to keep the hard times plots from overflowing.  I was underwhelmed by the story and overwhelmed by changes.  Luckily, this proved just a jumping off point.  Other thoughts:

1. Oh, Michael.  He can never try to do anything with Lucille 2 without making her dizzy.

2. I do not share the joy in Kristin Wiig and Seth Rogen as young Lucille and George Sr.  First, we had plenty of flashbacks with the actual actors before.  Second and most importantly, in a season where I already feel I don’t get enough of particularly Jessica Walters, seeing her replaced like that feels like a low blow.  Surely that wasn’t actually necessary?

3. See, when Michael’s going on and on and on about a plan like that voting one is usually when Lindsay or Gob or someone walks in and distracts me from it so I’m getting something other than tired at the only gag currently going.  This was the point where I really started to fear this new season.

4. More Loose seal! jokes=always funny.

5. Anyone else curious about the name P-Hound?  Is he going to be, like, Gene Parmesan’s apprentice and sniff out scandals?

6. I feel like using his memories of Gob’s magic hands to “accidentally” squirt soap in Michael’s eyes whenever he tries to join him in the shower should be George Michael’s first move in the battle of privacy.

7. Do we assume George Michael gets everything by scholarship and that’s why he’s unaffected by money troubles thus far?

8. I feel like Michael’s luggage would have had some sort of leftover blueprint or flier for “Sudden Valley” that would have caused him trouble at airport security.  It’s the layout of what-a bomb in the shape of a burning bush?  Or it’s clearly Al Quaeda code for a strike because, after all, the name “Sudden Valley” is a total giveaway?  I feel there could have been a funnier sequence than the voting with that, particularly if they ended up by trying to contact his son for confirmation about his recent lodging or something and then the off-the-phone officer used facial recognition and pulled up the CIA file on George Michael’s Star Wars video as a terrorist training film.  Michael would then be released so as not to tip off his more dangerous son, although probably with a tail-maybe Ice?  (And then P-Hound would be endorsed by the government in his first pro job of officially surveilling George Michael Bluth. ((Instead of him just doing it for Gene Parmesan, clearly at Lucille’s behest, so that she can stay on top of what’s happening with her son with highest potential.  After all, P-Hound did seem to be assigned only after Michael moved in.)))  This is how it goes in my head.

9. I love the airport paintings behind Michael.

10. I am always going to be on board with random ostriches here.

 

Attested Development: Thoughts on Arrested Development Season 4 as a Whole

SPOILER-FREE:

My pleasure in viewing this season was like going up one of those tall, bumpy slides you love to go down.  The first episode left me just sitting on the bottom of the slide going, I’m FINALLY here-where’s the whoosh, the thrill?  Then the next two episodes pushed my pleasure up a bit.  “The B Team” leveled out for me a bit again, but then Tobias’s “A New Start” started curving up the slide again, although I was still really close to the bottom.  I wasn’t ready to declare disappointment but also not feeling it.  Luckily, “Double Crossers”  brought in a Gob who entered with bees, and from there things shot right up into whoosh/thrilling territory (for me and my viewing partner)!  This upswing got me up to the top of the slide (with little leveled-off bumps in parts of The Lindsay and Tobias episodes).  Then, ironically, “It Gets Better” just leveled it off at the top of the slide.  And after that, the episodes went down as the stairs leading up to the slide.  So, bit of a complicated viewing shape, with a less than satisfying beginning and end, but overall a really tall slide, fun, and thrilling.

 

A Few Reasons I Loved It:

-Gob’s always been the best with real character growth and his arc here tops them all!

-I’ve always wanted to see a Lindsay whose storyline is truly separated from Tobias’s.  I’ve felt that, while many of his transcended their relationship-the Blue Man Group, Kitty, etc.-even when Lindsay was trying to get away from him, she never really had anything that was wholly her own.  It was sad.  Now we get to see her figure things out without her husband and even, eventually, making decisions on her own.  It’s wonderful and I appreciate it to death.

-Obviously, the return of several missed and beloved gags.

-The satisfaction of noticing the details, creating theories, and always, always, always getting payoff.

-That special pleasure that happens when things things start coming together, because it sparks all the magic of when you realized that was Really Happening in the first three seasons.

-The acting, it feels just like what we’ve been missing.

 

A Few Reasons Not to Love:

-The real heart of the show before really lay in the dynamic between all of these messed-up characters and is, by definition, mostly gone from episodes that focus only on individuals.  One of the reasons the start of drawing all the connections made the episodes suddenly magical for me is that with the interconnections comes interaction between the characters, and that alone basically always pays off.

-While following the straight man is the obvious way to do it when you’re dealing with all the kooks together, having him without his kooky family will automatically lessen his comedic value by a lot.  Therefore, giving Michael the bookend episodes of this season was a huge mistake-we both looked to get the ball rolling and wrap everything up, with the character with the least humor in his arsenal.  Also, while I heartily approve of the new character in his storyline, we’re not going to care enough about any new character to truly want to end the series with them taking precedence over the other characters we’ve known and loved for years.

-The lack of several sorely missed and highly anticipated gags.

-Without the strict timeframe of real TV, a few of the scenes felt too long and lessened the comedy of the moment while overall making the writing feel slightly less sharp.

-I may be alone in this nitpick, but I felt that Ron Howard got too much time and focus.  I love his narration and appreciate him appearing, but…he’s not who I’m here for and every time he’s onscreen he’s cutting out other interactions that I had stronger connections to and found funnier.

-The first few episodes really did feel like I, as an avid fan, still had to work to stay engaged and find the humor.  And while there were payoffs later, the true brilliance of the first three seasons was how the writers managed to have huge interconnecting story payoffs later while still giving full-on funny stand-alone episodes every time.  So without that second part I can still fully appreciate the long-game writing and acknowledge it’s still the best on TV, but…I felt it was more ambitious before.

More thoughts on individual episodes to come!

 

 

Arrested Development: Classic!

I cannot tell you how much I adore this photo.  There MUST be fanfic.