Some Thoughts on Netflix's ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Some Thoughts on Netflix’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

May 28, 2013 by  

As someone who adored Fox’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, I went into Sunday’s Netflix debut equal parts giddy and terrified — elated beyond belief to have 15 more episodes with the Bluths, but worried about whatever they held ruining the memories of the short-lived series.

The good news is that after marathoning all of “season 4” on Sunday, it certainly didn’t ruin the series for me. I’m more thankful for that than I can properly express.

But aside from that? I’m so conflicted. (Spoilers — albeit minimal ones — ahead for the entire Netflix run.)

  • It feels absurdly selfish to complain about the methods in which Netflix actually released the 15 episodes (because, really, four years ago, who the heck thought this would even be possible?!), but, man, I wish they had not been released all at once. I understand it’s the model the site works under (previous Netflix original series HOUSE OF CARDS and HEMLOCK GROVE also had their entire season released simultaneously), and clearly ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’s newest batch of episodes was designed to be parts of a whole picture…but it also took something away from the experience. Did I have to watch all 15 episodes in a day? Of course not. But like I mentioned, this is a show I care about. In order to stay unspoiled, I was off all social media until I caught up. Right or wrong, it felt like my options were either watch the show immediately (staying off social media for an extended period of time is a near-impossibility doing this job) or concede to having an experience I had unknowingly been waiting seven years for ruined in some way. I’m glad I was spoiler-free, but I also know that when I was done, it felt like I had been in a giant bubble and so little of the show had really been able to sink in. And literally every friend I’ve spoken to about season 4 mentioned it ended up feeling like a chore at one point or another because they didn’t trust it would remain unspoiled.
  • As unhealthy as the Tobias/Lindsay and George Sr./Lucille marriages were, I was still sad to see them fall apart.
  • Kristen Wiig was just fantastic as a young Lucille Bluth. I almost wanted to see a bit more of her, because she totally was spot-on. It was also a lot of fun to get more of Ron Howard playing himself versus just hearing his voice as the narrator.
  • When FRINGE essentially rebooted the series in its season 4, I wrote at the time that “…I kept having this nagging sensation that this is not my show…We have the same writers, we have the same actors, but while the pieces are all there, they’re being rearranged in a fashion that is unfamiliar. (Kind of like our favorite band split up, but decided to put together an album of their combined solo music.)” I had the same sense of deja vu while watching ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. All the pieces are there, but the formatting — especially the lack of real group scenes — hurt. We were warned pre-debut the group contact would be minimal, but boy, it was felt. As strong as some of these characters were (and are), others really couldn’t carry an episode by themselves, which became problematic. (I still don’t know if I should be frustrated we had to deal with two George Sr. episodes in the first handful, or relieved they were gotten out of the way.) If/when the Bluth story continues on, hopefully they’ll spend more time together.
  • Overall, surprisingly, I found GOB’s episodes to be the strongest. And I can’t get “Getaway” out of my head. Can we please get an ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT soundtrack?
  • Adored the little meta nods to the show’s run on Fox (“Showstealer Pro Trial Version” for seasons 1-3 clips, the cancellation comment in the intro). It reminded me a lot of “S.O.B.s” as the soon-to-be-canceled show referenced the potential interest from HBO and Showtime.
  • I was a little disappointed things were so completely open-ended. I was watching the series with a friend, and during the final episode, we kept wondering how they were going to tie things up. Turns out, they didn’t, really. Obviously if/when the movie happens, we’ll get some resolution, but I wish the Michael/George Michael conflict(s) hadn’t been so completely unresolved. (And was Michael always so…pathetic? I never viewed him that way, but sans the rest of his family — and so thoroughly/cluelessly imposing on his son — I wondered if their insanity masked his or if he had truly regressed so much over the years.)
  • With all that being said, my goodness, it was kind of amazing to have the Bluths back. During its stronger moments, I laughed more there than I have at anything else on TV all season. The callbacks were amazing, the cameos were mostly handled really well, and despite any frustration, I was overall pleased to get more time with this insane family. And now that I’ve watched, I am looking forward to viewing it again on my own schedule.

Enough rambling from me…did you watch ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT season 4? What did you think?

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2 Responses to “Some Thoughts on Netflix’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT”

  1. Simone on May 28th, 2013 5:42 pm

    I appreciate what you said about watching again on my own time. I marathoned this so quickly mostly out of excitement, but also because I did not want to be spoiled on any major plot twists.

    I also did not want to be too influenced by other reactions to the series.

    Thinking back on it now, I like it more and more. It was really different and, at first, the difference was jarring. Now, I think the episodes had an intricacy that was not allowed in the traditional network format and my initial discomfort had more to do with adjusting to a new medium, while expecting the old framework.

    I thought the series had a sadness to it, despite so much hilarity, and that might have resulted from the additional time allowed for nuance. These characters are still trying to figure out their direction and purpose and no one seems to be able to help anyone else despite being family.

    I can’t wait for the movie or whatever is next. This felt like a denouement. I think the next chapter will feel really new, but we all first needed closure.

  2. Sarah on June 2nd, 2013 11:38 am

    I agree with all of this. My sister and I were talking about how one reason we love the old eps so much is that we’ve watched them 2,000 times each (rough estimate) and do know all of the nuances. If we were to watch S4 again, and we will at some point, I know there will be even more little details that we missed.

    As it was, there were plenty of awesome details, and I’m mostly cool with how it turned out. Any issues I had were the same you had, Marisa, and there were a couple of episodes that lost my interest, but all in all, I was just thankful for more of it.
    Agree that the GOB eps were the best. I died laughing when Siri called him “gob”, LOL! And of course the Tony Wonder stuff was amazing.

    I liked all of the cameos and bit parts, except Seth Rogen’s turn as George Sr, which somehow just didn’t feel right at all. But Kristen Wiig was excellent as Lucille, that is for sure.