Baron's Blitz: Arrested Development 4

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Baron's Blitz: Arrested Development 4

Postby Baron von Gosu » Tue May 28, 2013 9:13 pm

“Please tell your friends about our show.”

Those words have echoed in dorm rooms, parent basements, and various quality home theater systems for the better part of the past six years. In a world where people constantly bitch about low quality television programming, there existed a show that dared push the conventions of the television comedy with an episodic tale where often jokes were set up many episodes in advance of their pay off. It was a show best watched as a marathon that instead was treated to constantly shifting time slots making it difficult for new comers to get lost in the plight of one son with no choice but to keep them all together.

It was our Arrested Development.

From the day I watched the ‘Save the Bluths’ episode myself and millions of fans around the world took up the mantle to indeed tell everyone we knew about the show. For the better part of six years we’ve held marathon showings in any manner we could, threw out quotes in banter ranging from the plains of Azeroth to the planet Aiur, and signing every single online petition that happened to grace our inboxes on every single piece of digital social network we had. Together we fought to save our Bluths, and together, united, we resurrected them from the ashes of cancellation.

Season 4 ‘aired’ Sunday May 26, 2013 on the instant streaming service ‘Netflix.’ As many listeners to the show know, Netflix plays a large part into ‘Dead Air’ with Highlander’s weekly review of a random horror film selected off of Netflix’s instant streaming service. I was thrilled to see that all 15 episodes were available that Sunday because, as I said earlier, Arrested Development is a show best watched in a marathon so set ups for jokes and stories remain fresh. In my opinion season 4 seems to be no different in this respect. However various online magazines such as Collider wrote that AD creator Mitchell Hurwitz came out shortly before the new season premiered saying season 4 should not be view in the ‘marathon’ tradition. Far be it from me to tell a creator how to approach or view his creation, but I must say in this particular case that Mr. Hurwitz is wrong.

(Insert Dr. Cox ‘Wrong, wrong, wrong’ sounder here. Oh crap this isn’t a monologue for the show….)

I won’t go into much detail about the plot elements here, mostly because the vast majority of you have already viewed the season by now judging by the Rival Cast forums. However I will say that the way the season is structured it takes a few episodes to get into the groove of how things work. Basically we’re looking at a story told from the perspective of each member of the family. This results in cross overs and tie ins that feed back to or explain other segments of an episode featuring another character. Getting lost in the non-linear story would be easy given a good amount of time taken between viewings of episodes. The marathon approach helps keeps the structure going and again helps the viewer prepare for jokes and plot elements set up several episodes in advance.

As for the internet world, most of the complaints I have read stem from this very structure of storytelling and for the first three episodes I would have agreed. However, since finishing the season I’ve come to change my opinion on this. The reason is simple and twofold: 1.) the actors were in various stages of other projects and had limited availability to do another season. 2.) Season 4 was intended to be a lead in for a feature film (according to a Rotten Tomatoes and Collider article). The goal was to explain what everyone has been up to since the ending of season 3 so the back story for each character wouldn’t have to be addressed (feebly) in a film with a running time more than likely set around an hour and a half. Instead we get 15 episodes with extended running times (30-36 minutes roughly) and without commercials (boo-yah). The result was basically one long episode broken up among every single character with plot lines left unresolved for the potential follow up feature film. And at first I had a very big problem with this.

From here on out I must caution you I’m going full spoiler alert (yet another sounder I can’t use) so be forewarned. As I’ve said many, many times on Dead Air I prefer a strong emphasis on character and story rather than the clichés of a genre done well. In a way this can become a private hell for people with similar preference because we become that much more invested in those characters. Arrested Development is a show mostly about character, specifically speaking the character of Michael Bluth played brilliantly once more by Jason Bateman. Michael, in my opinion, is the bread and butter of the show. He is the core that keeps everything together (in case the opening narration of seasons 1-3 weren’t indication enough). By far he was the one character I really wanted to see continue his story.

I remember when I watched the season 3 finale I was disappointed in Michael’s failure to save his family. In fact he didn’t just fail, he gave up on them. Also remember, at the time season 4 wasn’t even a twinkle in the creator’s eye which meant this was supposed to be –the- final episode ever. I thought at the time, ‘what kind of comedy has a sad ending?’ For me that’s exactly what it was; sad, depressing, and disappointing. I believed in Michael the way Gotham City believed in Harvey Dent. In season 4 what essentially happened was Michael becoming a two-faced super villain.

Season 4 for me illustrated the further failure of Michael Bluth. Not only could he not save the family, he ended up destroying his relationship with his son, two different careers, and a chance to at least put himself back together. When the final episode went off I was pissed. “This better not be the last episode in this season,” I said to my wife who dutifully feigned interest in my whining before returning to whatever project she’d been working on. That same disappointment and sadness came around again. How could a character I believed so much in fall so far from grace?

I waited a day before writing this article because I wanted to do some research and find out if season 4 was the final nail in the coffin. To my delight I learned about the planned film, and immediately blossomed hope. Michael’s story isn’t yet finished. I think any season of a show that leaves you desperately wanting more is a successful one. AD season 4for me was very successful in that regard. I’m not ready to give up on the Bluths.

Before I sign off I want to take a moment to thank all of you fellow AD fans out there for the diligent work you put in to help bring this truly remarkable show back. I think it’s a great testimony to what we all can accomplish when we put our heads together to work for a common love. To Mitchell Hurwitz, Ron Howard, and the rest of the Arrested Development team I want to say I did my best to tell all my friends about this show. And lastly, you’re welcome.

On the next episode of Baron’s Blitz…..
"Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light."
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Baron von Gosu
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