So I’ve been rewatching Arrested Development while cooking and eating. I finally ran out of season 3 this weekend and decided, what the heck, let’s watch season 4. I was only going to pace myself, but I binged watched them over a couple days. By the way, watching them while eating a chocolate dipped frozen banana (they were buy one get one free!) is the best way.
Season 4 is told in Rotating Protagonist style, each episode more or less following one character the whole time. However, Arrested Development is also a farce. The episodes follow the threads of characters and events as they weave, bounce off, and betray each other. Each time we see a scene from a new perspective, we see a little more of the scene and a new twist. The effect is that the season is a series of elaborately constructed brick jokes, and so you have to watch the full season to get many of those punchlines. Season 4 is a magnificent feat of writing. And I think it will bear rewatching to catch more gags that I missed.
There were a few running jokes I felt were run into the ground. It’s sometimes hard to tell where continuity porn ends and beating a dead horse begins. And there was a lot of continuity porn.
Spoiler alert: I think there’s two reasons people might not like season 4. 1) They didn’t watch the whole thing, and the episodes were meant to be watched together.
2) The structure of a farce is that it builds and builds, coincidences upon lies upon plots upon misunderstandings. The payoff is to see the whole mess blow up in people’s faces. While many threads do get resolved over the course of the season, there are a few big ones that are left loose. Plot hooks for the movie, I guess. It’s just that comedy is supposed to end with a big laugh, not what we got.