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Thursday, May 30, 2013

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Same "Double Crossers" As Always (Season 4 Episodes 6-10)

Article first published as ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Same "Double Crossers" As Always (Season 4 Episodes 6-10) on TheTVKing.

Netflix has resurrected Arrested Development, seven years after its cancellation on FOX, and now, starting yesterday, presents fifteen brand new episodes. For ease of review purposes, I am breaking down my coverage into three articles covering five episodes each, with this article focusing on episodes 6-10.

The thing that strikes me about the first four of this grouping of five is how much they seem like "typical" Arrested Development episodes. Sure, each one still centers on a single character, technically, but these middle installments include a lot more of the rest of the cast than the earliest episodes do, with more scenes and plot where the featured actor doesn't appear. As such, it allows the multiple story lines to be served and continue.

It also brings back a lot of the family dynamics fans of the show are used to. Beginning in the sixth episode, "Double Crossers," George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) manipulates his children against one another, especially Gob (Will Arnett) and Michael (Jason Bateman), who may possible now be dating the same woman, again. This is classic Bluth shenanigans, and eventually the Bluth children talk and compare notes. While family togetherness is the stated purpose of the Bluth parents, they are happy to chuck it out the door to serve their own purposes, which usually works for a time on their children.

Which is not to say that the kids don't follow in the footsteps of their parents. George Sr. may need Michael's help with his business deal, but Michael is also making agreements in order to get his film made. Soon, many bargains are being struck between the various sides, each Bluth worried only about their own selfish needs, no one helping the others out. Which will likely lead to the failing of everyone, per usual.

Why can't the Bluths just support one another? Why do they have to back stab and bicker? It makes for great, entertaining television, but sometimes it becomes a little sad, even when viewers are laughing.

We also get a return of many more recurring players and subplots. The mysterious Mister F. theme comes back in episode nine, "Smashed," when Tobias works at Lucielle 2's (Liza Minnelli) rehab clinic with her brother (Tommy Tune). Steve Holt (Justin Grant Wade) resurfaces in episode seven, "Colony Collapse," wanting to reconnect with his dad, Gob. Also in the same episode, Gob is finally forced to figure out what to do about his relationship with Anne (Mae Whitman), turning to magic to escape, much to chagrin of her father, Pastor Veal (Alan Tudyk).

Add in the new arcs, which feature new players, and this all begins to come together in the cohesive tale we are accustomed to, with each Bluth's plot running through each other Bluth's plot. Edited differently, these four episodes could easily serve most of the main cast (or at least the ones featured in them) with connected stories and situations, rather than being so concerned with just one Bluth.

In fact, although Michael is not the lead of any of the five, he bickers with Gob in "Double Crossers" and "Colony Collapse," and goes on a double date with Lindsay (Portia di Rossi) in her installment, episode eight's "Red Hairing," which we then again see in Tobias's (David Cross) "Smashed." Then, Michael finishes up his Ron Howard (himself) / Rebel (Isla Fisher) confusion. So the stories are getting more expansive and inclusive.

Episode ten, "Queen B.," though, follows Lucielle (Jessica Walter) and feels like the beginning of the end. This installment seems to finish off the boat chase plot begun in season three's finale, go through Lucille's trial, and takes her all the way up to the Cinco de Cuatro night we've seen so much of. The various threads begin to really tie together, bringing things back around and paying off bits started earlier in season four. I cannot say for sure, but it seems like season four might have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and we're moving into the end now.

Knowing season four can't go on forever, I'm hesitant to rush through the final five. It has been so satisfying returning to these characters, and I don't wish to let them go. For every old story that somewhat concludes, like Anne's involvement with the family and Lucille's long-running feud Lucille 2, we get another continuation, like Gob and Steve Holt's unfinished business, as well as another story just starting, like George Sr. and Oscar's (also Tambor) personality switch, Lucille 2's disappearance, Lindsay's run for office in Love's (Terry Crews) place, and George Michael's (Michael Cera) continuing avoidance of Michael, which seems to be carefully planned. This so much rich material to mine, and it's being handled very well.

That being said, I look forward to learning the fate of some of the newbies that may be near the end of their run, and I'm anxious for Maeby (Alia Shawkat), George Michael, and Buster's (Tony Hale) turns in the pole position, as well a second outing for Gob. Time to watch more Arrested Development!

All fifteen episodes of season four are currently available for Netflix streaming video subscribers.

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