I need to start this off by saying that unlike most, I actually liked the fourth season of Arrested Development. Just like the Bluths, it was a perfect mess. The timeline was my main issue – I had some trouble keeping up at the beginning – but by the end, I had sorted it all (they actually “fixed it” by releasing a remixed version of the fourth season, editing the events in chronological order). However, I’ll admit there was way too much Ron Howard. He as a narrator is perfect, but watching him play himself on the show does not really work for me.
Season five thankfully avoids another of four’s mistakes (splitting up the characters). They’re all together here so Huzzah! Moreover, the timeline is much easier to follow. The season begins with the characters following their paths the morning after the Cinco de Cuatro, only to be reunited again one month later. That’s the beauty of Arrested Development: no matter where their journey leads them, they always end up together in the same room (apart from George Michael who is across the hall and decides to miss the party).
It must be said that when you shoot seasons too long apart, the mojo is lost. When the Bluths finally reunited in the second episode, there was a lack of energy and it felt somewhat off (the jokes didn’t seem to land well). But eventually, that special something returned. By far the best subplot in the whole season was George (unknowingly followed by his son Michael, who is himself being unknowingly followed by his son George Michael), going to Mexico. This storyline brought back the vibes from the first 3 seasons of the show, and I am hopeful that the second part of the season will bring even more hysterical moments.
Now the elephant in the room. I am of course talking about the infamous behind the scenes interview with the New York Times in which Jessica Walter (who plays the matriarch Lucille Bluth) admitted that Jeffrey Tambor (who plays her husband, George Bluth Senior) verbally abused her on set (he was also accused of sexual misconduct by three women last year). The interview was particularly hard to watch because the show’s male cast members (Jason Bateman, Tony Hale and David Cross) jumped right in and defended Tambor’s actions by mansplaining how the industry works and normalizing Tambor’s actions. Although the three of them apologized later on for their behavior, many fans (me included) were very upset. It’s hard to watch a show you love so much knowing what really goes on behind the scenes. Tambor is a good actor and I have to admit his character did make me laugh, but I also had a feeling of guilt. Not an easy position for a fan!
Bits & Bananas
– This season, Michael manages to have a care free life for 30 days… until he comes back. He is less weird and needy than he was in season 4, and I feel that the character is back to his true self. And Jason Bateman is a sight for sore eyes; he looks better than ever.
– I always liked George Michael’s innocence and goodness throughout the first three seasons. Those were his main traits after all. Well, that and the fact that he had – and still has – the hots for his cousin Maeby. We Arabs will never fully understand the joke because incest between cousins is just common for us (I know non-Arabs, I know). But I have a tiny issue with grown up George Michael. Somehow his innocence and goodness faded away and he became a bit douchey? I know characters evolve and he’s not a child anymore, but he’s not as perfectly calibrated as the rest of the characters.
– I am happy that Michael’s relationship with his father is finally returning back to normal. However, I am still waiting for the plot between him, his father and Rebel Alley to end. And no more Ron Howard!
– Maeby is by far one of my favorite characters this season. If she was clever when young, she’s outdone herself in season five by pretending to be the 75-year-old Lucille 2’s sister Anette. I love that her and George Michael are sharing more time together on screen and that once again they’re seeking each other’s (unhelpful) advices. She still tries to vie for her mom’s attention but since we don’t have a lot of Lindsay in the first half of the season, it does not last long.
– Since Portia de la Rossi, who plays Lindsay Bluth, is no longer interested in acting, she has little screen-time this year. After admitting her true colors and being in favor of the wall between the US and Mexico, her arc in season five is weird and disappointing. Hopefully she will come in the second part of season five and her character will be salvaged.
– Tobias with pink sideburns and a pink mustache? Yes, please. Since Lucille does not require his services anymore, he sticks around by portraying the missing members of the family. Needless to say, those very bad performances will give you a very good laugh. Tobias, my favorite never nude (THERE ARE DOZENS OF US!). But he does bring along a new character, Murphybrown, who is sort of forgettable.
– I was going to cancel the show had we not heard the introductory final countdown song from Gob’s magic shows. Fortunately, we have it in the last episode.
– I felt very sorry for Gob who could never could stop thinking about that one unexpected, but magical (pun intended), hookup
– All hail the queen, Lucille Bluth is sassier than ever. She always has the perfect replies, and can we talk about her iconic eye-rolls? She still has it and her interaction with all the other Bluth members were hilarious.
– I am not very convinced with Lucille’s new love interest, Dusty. Again, I just didn’t feel it. He had very little time on screen and there was a lack of energy in there.
– Buster, my sweet, sweet creepy weirdo Buster. Tony Hale’s portray of Buster is as perfect as ever. If anything I am thankful that we got to see more of him than season four which dedicated only one episode to Buster. You do you Buster.
– I made my point about Jeffrey Tambor. This paragraph is about the character, George Bluth Senior. George Sr., who was always a strong alpha male, became softer on season 4. In season five, we learn why. That’s it, there’s nothing much to it. But he dropped lines that cracked me up (until that feeling of guilt kicked in).
– Steve Holt shouting and raising his arms up.
– “Dad Fights” series in comparison to the “Boys Fights” franchise created by George Senior.
– When Michael leaves a note for Lucille 2 and George Michael because they learned the hard way you should always leave a note.
– The jingle “MRF” (mister F) sang on a Mexican accent and rhythm (the original has been stuck in my head for days)
– All the lines from the past seasons that goes through Michael and George Michael’s head when they enter the model home.
– George Michael goes through his old stuff in the model house and finds some relics like the DVD of “Les cousins dangereux”, the Adam outfit, the Darth Vader mask.
– Rebel Alley reprising a line from Kitty Sanchez (every time she would flash Michael her breasts) in one of her movies “You can say goodbye to the these”
– The return of Mrs Featherbottom when Maeby tries to look older.
– The Banner “Welcome home from jail
Father, Oscar, Mother, Buster!”
– The song Getway when Gob’s phone starts ringing
– No touching!
– Tobias’ cut offs make an appearance when he’s wearing the ostrich outfit
– “coincidence” cue
Buster: Am I that much of a monster, Michael? Even to you?
Tobias: (to Lucille): I’m confused by the word ‘it’. Are you implying you don’t want to see me anymore?
Lucille: I’m confused by the word ‘anymore’.
George Bluth Senior: Get in the anustart and I’ll follow.
Tobias: Michael, if I could put my therapist leggings on for a second.
Maeby: Bury me.
George: Yeah, it was great though. I mean, they’re such a nice… I don’t want to use the word ‘family’ because they like each other, but they’re such a nice group of people.
It was not a huge mistake.
P.S. Netflix Lebanon, why is Arrested Development not on your show list? You good?