OK, let me get the awkward part out of the way first. Yes, this WAS supposed to be a column on my little movie club experiment watching The Bride of Frankenstein. But here's the thing. I forgot to tell everyone to start the week I meant to. I woke up on Memorial Day, and I found myself wondering “Hey! That's right, film club starts this week. So I need to write up...wait...oh no.” Blame it on a week of too much going on. Family members needing me to take them to doctor offices, students graduating, and my own uber excitement over the return of Arrested Development.
Next week, movies, this week—which I'm sure some of you figured out from my double meaning title—is about the return of Arrested Development. Here's the cliff notes version for those of you who need to be caught up. Arrested Development is a sitcom that ran on FOX from 2003-2006. It was innovative, groundbreaking, and lead the way for a show like the recently departed The Office. Critics loved it, viewers didn't, outside of a few who were fiercely loyal to the series. I was one of those, I actually watched it all first run on FOX.
The series was canceled, much to cries of shame from the series fan-base. Almost immediately fans wanted a movie. What followed was seven years of “will they/won't they” about the series return. News of which ended in 2011, when it was confirmed, that in all actuality, there was going to be, seriously, another season of Arrested Development. You see, during the time the show was off the air, this new modern concept of “binge watching” began. People were getting DVDs of the show's three years and watching them in days. The series, known for his density in jokes, call backs, and foreshadowing, suddenly found more voices crying for more.
Netflix, which came out if its first really major attempt at original programming earlier this year with House of Cards, was to be the series new home. And despite the prestige of the cast and crew of House of Cards, the return of Arrested Development is more of a major deal for Netflix. The series made its return last week, May 26. You most likely heard, the cast was on many talk shows and morning shows to talk up the event. In all honesty, I can't recall the last time there was a TV event this anticipated (No, the finale of The Bachelor does not count. Because, Dear God, get out of the house and look at some trees).
Therein lies the problem with reviewing the new season of the series. Anticipation is so high, it's almost to the point it can't live up to anyone's hopes. Critical reviews are split on the new season, some love it, other like it, others are mixed. What's my view on it, you ask? (Not that you did, but I'm gonna tell you anyway). The fourth season of Arrested Development is groundbreaking, and that's why some people are confused. Is it the same as the old show? No, it's not. Something that series creator Mitch Hurwitz said so in the weeks leading up to May 26.
Designed for Netflix streaming, this season is all about the story you're going on, jumping from episode to episode, calling backs to one before, and setting things up that will only pay off at the end. Much in the way that mini-series used to be “The Novels of Television” this new version of Arrested Development does just that. It takes the long form, novelistic approach we see on dramatic series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. This is the first time anyone as applied that to a comedy, and it works. Beautifully. There are times when some things don't click, as you have with any season of television. (That one episode of Mad Men that recently aired? The one that confused the entire internet? Yeah...)
The new Arrested Development works. Yes, it takes a few episodes to get going, by the third I was worried, by four, I was delighted. I suspect the more times I re-watch this—and I will be doing that—I'll appreciate it more and more. Most amazing of all, is that this is the return of a TV series that a major network said no one wanted to watch, and it's become one of the most buzzed about TV events in recent memory. The more time I spend with season four, the more and more I love it.
Alright folks. There it is, my thoughts on the new season of Arrested Development. Next week, I promise you, the movie club thing begins. We'll just be a week off. So hey! Use that spare time to watch Arrested Development! See! It all ties in together!