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.

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!