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 4×7, “Colony Collapse”

Attested Development: Can’t Getaway from the SPOILERS.

 

This is the return of Gob, resurrecting his life from the consummation of his relationship with Ann, and removing all doubts that he’s been filled with holes (in his memory), died (to his entourage), and come back to his father.  Will Arnett sells everything he does brilliantly.  The only problem is that sometimes no one told him when to stop selling-like with stammering shticks and the reel about forget-me-nows.  Properly edited, this episode would have been perfect.  As it is, it’s a bit long, but still plants it right on the Ann.  Gob’s wedding ends even worse than his previous magicapades, his entourage stint is actually believable, and Gob’s total mental lock on every relationship he thinks he’s in means that it matters a looot less whether he actually has good characters to interact with or not-he’s got relationship dynamics all by himself.  On top of which, he now has a magic-related quest: That’s a clear-cut situation with the promise of comedy.  Whereas most of the other characters are dealing with more difficult situations without easy answers.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS:

1. Gob does have a knack for finding girlfriends who can get him on TV shows, doesn’t he?

2. MICE-alaneous is actually a charming name, and it is reassuringly consistent that all of Gob’s magic animals share the same fate.  Who wants to bet the mice get eaten by a seal in a yellow bowtie?

3. I love the giant HER?

4. This is the second marriage Gob’s had without anyone paying attention.

5. Who do we suppose really sabotaged Gob’s magic trick?

 

Arrested Development 4×6, “Double Crossers”

Attested Development: Flip, flop, flap, SPOILERS.

 

This episode is where the magic really picked up again for me.  Most of the characters managed to appear and actually had time to interact.  Isla Fisher began a comedic gag that works.  Herbert Love pulls his weight as a guest star (and the video titles on his webpage are hilarious).  The pacing felt like the Arrested Development of yore and the tone felt wittier and sharper to match.  It helped that subjects from the previous series were revisited with a new twist: treason, the Bluths’ relationship with Mexico, sexual issues (although with George rather than Gob), Lucille thinking anything that can possibly be insultingly related to her sexuality is…It’s great.  I would actually recommend this to newcomers as the first episode to watch if they are nervous about it, and then have someone or the internet explain things they’ve missed, or just go back and rewatch the earlier episodes with this under their belt.  Plus, gob has finally gotten his bees (BEES!?) and that’s just a perfectly happy ending right there, albeit with the expected problems.  I am pleased.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS:

1. I love the “Kids Klub” at the colony!

2. The sign saying Mr. Mister reminds me pleasantly of “Mr. Manager”, as does the “Mr. President”s.

3. Jeffrey Tambor is having a ball with the cross-dressing.

4. So now all the corners in that model house are bent, due to Gob trying to open Mike’s hard lemonades.

5. Where do we suppose George got his new wardrobe?  They were just in the trailer from one of the new sidekicks?  He went shopping?  They were Tracy’s in the attic and he took them with him because they’re his comfort-clothes now?

6. Interesting how George seems like himself again after interacting with Michael a little bit.

7. George IS always the one who makes off with wigs, eh?

Arrested Development 4×2 “Borderline Personalities”

Attested Development: SPOILERS, if you sweat that sort of thing!

 

This episode is a testament to Jeffrey Tambor and how wonderful he is in this show.  It felt more like a good reintroduction episode than the first one.  This is also an episode that felt really organic, at least at the beginning.  This is Exactly the sort of shenanigans George Sr. would be up to with sweating and squeezing, this is exactly how George Sr. would plot with mastermind Lucille, and the references to seasons 1-3 are allowed nuance here without losing their edge.  This is also an episode that brought in the kind of new characters fans love-small parts that will never overwhelm an episode, but attention-grabbing and humorous.  This episode improved by having a storyline without an obvious ending.  Right from the start of 4×1, you know Michael’s got to go, and ending up in Phoenix seems obvious.  “Borderline Personalities” brings us character changes, the question of marriage or divorce for the Bluth parents, and a young Barry lawyer who makes all those other-actor flashbacks fun.  There were a few pacing bumps and this episode began a few things that may have been hard to keep track of (such as who was really which brother at which time), but both of these were smoothed over by the sheer slickness of Tambor’s acting.  You’d never have known there was a time-gap for his characters.  In short, watching this episode picked it up for me, but in hindsight it’s less memorable than later episodes.

Other thoughts:

1. Stan Sitwell aaalmost stuck it to him!  I like to think he purposely labels all the bushes on any blueprints he has control over in case George Sr. decides to drop by.

2. “I don’t want these.”  We know, George Sr.  I imagine that line came up a lot whenever Buster or Gob wanted to tag along on a trip/banana stand shift/whatever with you and Michael.

3. Young Elizabeth Taylor will never lose persuasive power.

4. Where do we suppose they got all the lemons if they’re making things there with industrial grade juicers?  From Oscar’s lemon grove??  And where’d they get the sugar?  Who wants to bet that George’s masculine problems stem from having things spiked by one of his new trio of sidekicks?

5. If only George Sr. could get in touch with the Abbot of Kells.  He’d get them to build a waaaaaaaall!

6. A note-I’ve seen a number of people wondering why Gob was groaning in the family scene in this episode.  To them I say, they were talking about witnessing George and Lucille having sex.  Gob has a proven tendency to be disapproving and vocal around this subject-that is why he was groaning.  No other mystery, guys.

7. Clearly, Barry drove all the way down there as a way of billing for hours rather than a half hour phone call.

8. It was actually really nice to see Oscar stand up for himself.  Perhaps Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra’s been encouraging him to become a great leader.

9. This is the weirdest looking ostrich.

10. Perhaps George’s decision to get Kitty implants was his attempt to circumvent his puny-thinking.

 

 

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!

 

 

The Borgia Bulletin (The Beautiful Spoilers)

Official revelations:

-Juan is the Gob of the Borgia family.

-Arrested Development is applicable everywhere.

Suffice it to say that this episode was glorious:  Lucrezia’s come into her own in the most scrumptious and satisfying of ways.  Finally, Cesare gets a chance to flex his military, manipulative muscles for the world.  Jeremy Iron’s surprise at the baby having a father is divine.  Catherina Sforza is making her mark at last.  And Juan….oh, Juan.  The first image is you.  The second is my main reaction.  (Although, I am so looking forward to the death awaiting you.  Hadn’t thought I could look forward to it more or be more curious, but I’ve been proven wrong.)

 

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