‘Arrested Development’ Season 4 Review & Discussion

Published 2 years ago by

arrested development season 4 tobias michael Arrested Development Season 4 Review & Discussion

Now that Arrested Development season 4 is available on Netflix, it’s time to to celebrate the return of the Bluths by giving a spoiler-free review of the entire season, as well as tipping you off to a few of the “issues” you might come across while trying to absorb all 15 episodes.

This new season of Arrested Development is an extremely ambitious tale that brings together the fan-favorite characters of the series in what is, essentially, a 15-episode inclusive story. The overall storyline for the season isn’t as enjoyable as many would like to see from a show’s return after 6 years, but it is a serviceable tale (albeit awkwardly presented) and is a significantly better showing than what any Arrested Development movie could provide. What’s more, the unique manner in which this season is structured makes for a new experience upon repeat viewing.

What’s interesting about this season is its (likely accidental) barrier for entry. As if it’s mirroring the conditions which originally caused Arrested Development to be canceled, audiences are once again tested on their approach to the series. If watching one or two episodes is your barometer for measuring the quality – or lack thereof – of the series’ return, then you’re kind of dismissing the series yet again, based not on what it excels at – narrative storytelling, callbacks, references and, most importantly, previously established storylines – but likely based on what you believe or remember the show to be, after having been able to watch all 68 original episodes, whenever or however you like. However, the new structure of character-specific episodes will make such knee-jerk reactions a challenge to overcome.

arrested development season 4 gob Arrested Development Season 4 Review & Discussion

This new approach to storytelling has a tendency early on to make for an awkward, inclusive viewing experience. Even though the characters do, technically, exist in the same universe, it quickly becomes apparent which characters you will and will not see in each episode, which can be a bit frustrating when you first begin watching the season. Thankfully, the characters interact more as the episodes progress, and the absences early on will quickly be forgotten. However, the entire seasonal storyline is too large to fully remember (at least in one viewing), which makes it feel as if you’ve been a part of an impressively large, though not ideal, tale involving the Bluths. Still, there are times when curiosity will have to take over for whatever anticipation is lost along the way – at least until things “pick up” further into the episode count.

When it comes to viewing the new season, watching all 15 episodes is not a requirement to enjoy the entire season; however, for those who may feel as if things are a bit “off” at first, here’s a bit of advice: That feeling is likely the result of a lack of context and the forced perspective that early episodes restrict you to. Luckily, this aspect largely fades away as more of the entire seasonal story is revealed. (Episode 4 is good place to judge your feelings about the new season, as this is where the first “easy to follow” storyline is introduced.)

Almost every memorable character from the show’s past returns in true form for the new season, along with a long list of celebrity cameos. Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogan are the first new faces to appear, and their inclusion is largely representative of the range in quality of this season’s appearances. Wiig, as young Lucille, is a dead-on impression of the familiar character, while Seth Rogan’s George Sr. is pretty much Seth Rogen with a mustache and wig. As such, the cameos can, at times, feel out of place and unnecessary – but there are many instances of cameos (like Conan O’Brien’s) which fit in perfectly with the story at hand and help to elevate the overall “Arrested Development “experience.”

arrested development season 4 kristin wiig seth rogen Arrested Development Season 4 Review & Discussion

Originally, the new season was going to be structured in way where viewers would be able to seamlessly jump from character to character by simply selecting their specific episode(s) after they appeared in someone else’s episode. Suffice to say, this type of editing was a bit too far-reaching for even Imagine’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, so we’re left with the remains of that endeavor. What does result from their ambitious editorial attempt, however, is an extremely intriguing execution of a seasonal tale, which implores viewers to continue until the end, and largely rewards those who do.

But after waiting 6 years for Arrested Development to return, the ability to re-watch season 4 is a big question, and one that largely answers itself by the time you’ve finished all of the episodes. After the credits roll on episode 15, you now have knowledge about what’s actually going on, which allows you to quickly jump back into  episode 1 for an entirely new viewing experience, if you so choose. Basically, it’s The Sound and the Fury of comedic sitcoms – which some hardcore viewers will greatly appreciate.

With all that being said, Arrested Development season 4 is also  like any television show, and there are issues that arise throughout this new season. After being off the air for so long, actors’ age and hair styles change (Lindsay), yet the cast still seamlessly slips back into their roles as if season 3 happened just last year. Sure, the structure of each episode and its way of storytelling is different, but at its heart it’s Arrested Development, through and through.  Though the first few episodes may make many feel otherwise, but by the end you’ll be ready to watch more – and thanks to way this season is structured, you’ll be able to.

[poll id="613"]


Arrested Development season 4 is now available on Netflix.

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I’m about five episodes into Season 4, and I’ve been enjoying it. No complaints thus far.

  2. Binge-watched the new season with my wife and a buddy of mine, we all enjoyed it quite a bit. Probably not my favorite of the seasons, but we all laughed the whole time. I think it was a really ambitious way to tell the story, Arrested Development has got some great writers (but we all already knew that). Also, I’ve been looking for a way to describe this season’s style/plot structure and “The Sound And The Fury of comedic sitcoms” pretty much nails it, so thanks for that!

  3. I liked the season kinda had a sort of marathon. If they do another season hopefully it will be like the other seasons. The one thing I did love was how they weaved each episode together.

  4. The Gob episodes were the best, him and Ben Stiller were just priceless, I was dying. Especially when sounds of silence played

    • should the guy, should, shh shh shh, should the guy in the, shh sshould

      • shh shh shhhouldddd shhh shh ould the guy in thhh in thhhe 3,500 dddddd doooo doollar suit dduh duh dhhhhh HAHAAH

        • Same!

    • Gob has always been one of the most hilarious characters on that show. Add Stiller to the mix and it’s bound to go BANG!

  5. I watched this from a cabin in wrightwood! Good show!

  6. I sat down on Sunday to watch all ten 20 minute episodes, only to realize about four episodes in I was actually watching all fifteen 30 minute episodes.

    I wasn’t gonna NOT watch the whole show, so I powered through the whole thing, and I enjoyed it. Michael’s arc with new character Rebel was my favorite, but the best moment was definitely the beginning of Tobias’ episode when he’s dressed as The Thing.

    I found Buster’s episode the weakest, though that has more to do with him having the most isolated episode with the smallest impact on the overall arc.

    • Man, I loved Buster’s episode. George Senior’s, on the other hand…yeesh.

      • That was my major complaint about this season. I really don’t know anyone that was asking for more George Sr or Lucille. They are funny, when they are surrounded by their family. It’s almost the same with Michael. He isn’t really funny by himself, it’s his straight laced character that plays so well off of Gob, Lindsey, etc. I know it is his story and all, but a lot of his stuff was dry and the parents was super boring. I’d rather have a spin off series called “The Adventures of Gobias, Inc.”

  7. I enjoyed the season very much. Wasn’t incredible, but I think it was hyped up way too much that it was impossible to meet these expectations. Anyways, very enjoyable and funny, albeit confusing, season. I’m excited to re-watch it.

    • I think the confusion was planned to illicit repeat viewing.

      • Or was it just “CooOOOincidence!”

      • *elicit
        Illicit means against the law.

  8. Definitely needed more Buster. From what I read Tony Hale was one of the more difficult to get and he was definitely the most missed in my house.

    Let’s give him a big hand though.

  9. Seth rogan was about as awful as the george sr episode

    • agreed… Kristen Wiig was hilarious though

  10. Glad you guys are finally getting to Arrested Development, after the first 24 hours I had assumed you guys weren’t going to cover it.

    Anyway, I very much enjoyed the new season. No it wasn’t perfect and no it wasn’t the “SAME!” but we all knew it wasn’t going to be. There is no way it was going to be as good as we all hoped/wanted/expected it to be but I think if the detractors can remember that they’ll be really glad to have the Bluth family back.

  11. Yeah its presented a little different, and in the first few episodes I missed the interaction between all the cast at once, but its just as good as I hoped. The actors didn’t miss a beat getting back into character! I hope they do season 5!
    …and the Tobias “thing” episode is the best!

  12. Always said ‘Arrested Development’ is the closest we get to a live action Simpsons show. So, using this logic:

    Episodes 1-6: The Simpsons as it is now.
    Episodes 7-15: Classic Simpsons we all still talk about.

    Not sure how well it would work and some of the narration would probably have to go, but I’d like to watch this chronologically.

    • I think a timeline infographic would be great.

  13. It’s not what it was. But it’s still better than most things

  14. My least favorite part of the season… the way Lindsey looks. Idk if its plastic surgery or liposuction but she looked unattractive and at the start wasn’t recognizable

    • I honestly thought she had been recast during the opening scenes with her at that hotel.

      I don’t know if it was the haircut or my eyes got used to it, but after awhile I didn’t really notice and was able to enjoy her segments.

      • I had the exact same reaction! I didn’t even recognize her at first, but I think she started to look more like herself after she lost the wig.

        It’s awesome that she was game for all the plastic surgery jokes. Also, it was a quick jab, but when Tobias was talking about DeBrie being a working actress in the car he mentioned that 42 was the perfect age for someone in her profession. Portia de Rossi is 42 years old.

        *Sitar playing* CooOOOoOOooincidence

        • Ahh, good tidbit!

  15. I just allowed it to wash over me. I know I will eventually get all the in-jokes and call-backs that I’m missing, but repeat viewing was what made this show awesome in first place.

    The first run through was going to be a gorge feast – now its time to appreciate the subtleties, in-jokes, and blink-and-you-miss it moments.

  16. I have to admit at first I was a bit concerned. I thought the first episode was fine but George Sr. 1 and Lindsey 1 bored me to tears and were to long. After that though when we started to see how everything fit together I thought each episode was pretty solid.
    I’ll rewatch it again at some point but I’m in no rush.

  17. I thought the season was Perfecto. I was worried I wouldn’t like the episodes focusing on one individual character at a time but I thought it was a brilliant way to bring the show back. I loved how interconnected it all was….”Hello darkness my old friend…” sorry I got a little sidetracked there. And SAME, I thought Seth Rogan was awful too. But I enjoyed the other cameos and characters.

    I will definitely watch the season again I just can’t getaway, getaway or stay away stay, away from these characters. And from now on I will always celebrate Cinco de Quatro.

    (I wonder if that was too many joke references? Did somebody say, “Wonder?!”)

  18. LOVED IT!!!! I dont why all the reviewers are bashing the new season. I have watched all 15 and started watching them again, TRUST ME they are so much funnier the second time around. I have watched the first 3 seasons more than once and cant wait to watch these over and over.

    Props to the writing team for coming up with this new format and they did it all for the fans, well done.

    • Why? Umm, maybe because people usually hate change and they expected season 4 to be exactly like the previous 3?

  19. I just discovered the Netflix easter egg for the show. Anyone found it yet? Hint: It’s in your Netflix listing.

  20. i thought this was a perfect way to get this show started again, it was honestly for the real fans that get this show. it def needs multiple viewings but i think that makes the season. the fact that its ambitious and says off the bat, this season deosnt need to be viewed in order, you have to have seen the first 3 seasons to actually get on this train. i think its amazxing how inclusive it is. i cant stand shows that feel that every new season has to think about new viewers. forgert new viewers apease the ones that have been there since the beginning. those are your fans. those are the ones that will line up to take a picture at the frozen banana stand.

  21. I enjoyed it also. Took a bit of getting used too..But I have to say Ep 4 was my favorite with Ron Howard and Conan.

  22. The Tobias episodes were pretty good. The Buster episode was funny. But the whole season seemed…..forced for laughs. GOBs episodes were HORRIBLE. The episodes were to long and any of the “feel good” parts of the family story of the first 3 seasons are gone. The politics were very heavy handed. I wasn’t expecting much but I was still disappointed. I loved the first 3 seasons but season 4 just didn’t work that well.

    • You suck

      • That was constructive. Thanks for your insight, George.

  23. I thought the new season was great, but the last 3 or 4 episodes kinda left a bad taste in my mouth. Everyone seemed to fail at everything. I guess I miss the “happily ever after” endings that generally show up in the first 3 seasons. Honestly, though, aside from that, I have no complaints.

  24. Disappointed! What made the first three seasons funny was the disfunctional family interaction. It is anticlimactic. Zzzzzzzz!

  25. I enjoyed the fourth series. Many didn’t like the George Senior episodes, but I found them interesting and thought Jeffrey Tambor was good at changing character, as George went from strong to weak. I agree with others the previous series with the ensemble cast was more stimulating and fun. No one has mentioned it, but Michael has always seemed like a character that was so close to leading a normal, happy life, but was always just that bit off balance. Now he seems so battered by life, and desperately pathetic. I found it sad that George Michael has become deceptive and pathetic too. The rupture between Michael and George Michael is painful. Perhaps I am wrong, but one member of the family should be normal, so we as an audience have someone to relate to and feel safe with. All of them have slipped into a strong state of dysfunction. The funniest scenes were between GOB and Tony Wonder. I haven’t been a great GOB fan, but some of those were absolutely hilarious. I wish the series had ended on a happier note. There was a whole lot of misery going on.