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Arrested Development Review: "Flight of the Phoenix"

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The Bluths really are back, as Netflix released all 15 episode of Season 4 on Sunday, May 26.

Over the next 15 days, we'll be posting one review every morning, taking readers back over the latest Arrested Development quotes and, well, developments, starting with how Michael ended up alone in Phoenix.

Previously on Arrested Development... a whole bunch of stuff happened. Three seasons worth. You definitely want to go watch those right now if you haven't seen them. The rest of us will wait until you catch up.

Kidding. We won't wait. Because we've already been waiting for 7 years. Or just since Netflix announced that season 4 was in the works. Whichever.

A new title card announces Arrested Development is a Netflix (Semi) Original series and with that, we're on our way!

Young Lucille and George

"Flight of the Phoenix" opens during Cinco de Quatro. Flashback 30 years to Newport Beach, 1982. A young Lucille Bluth (played by Kristen Wiig, who makes a surprisingly good Lucille) is looking out over a pier where people are celebrating Cinco de Mayo. She hates it. Because she hates everything. Even with a martini in her hand.

After complaining to George Sr. (played by Seth Rogan, looking exactly like Seth Rogan in a wig) that the bed isn’t made because Rosa took a day off, she goes full-Grinch on Cinco de Mayo, deciding she’s going to ruin it by creating Cinco de Quatro, a(nother) fake holiday where everyone uses up all the Cinco de Mayo party supplies.

Back in current day, a beaten-up looking Michael Bluth is wandering the pier during Cinco de Quatro. He finds the Bluth Stair Car which is now labeled with the Austero Bluth company logo. He climbs to the top to talk with Lucille 2. It seems she lent him a whole bunch of money but wants it back to run her campaign. Michael doesn’t have it. He asks for more time and tries to kiss her, which she doesn’t understand and falls over. After bandaging her head, Michael tries again.

Later, that night, after having done the unthinkable, Michael returns to the model home, where he thinks he can be alone. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for us!) Gob is there. They discuss The Unpleasantness, but don’t explain The Unpleasantness. Michael apologizes for said Unpleasantness and says he couldn’t possibly feel worse. Michael reminds Gob he’s done plenty of things to be ashamed of and is in no place to judge. Flashbacks to all of Gob’s huge mistakes, none of which he remembers because he roofies himself. Regularly.

Gob’s latest girlfriend appears (face unseen) on the balcony and Michael flips out. “I knew it!” he says, as she runs back to the bedroom. Gob roofies Michael. Stupid, forgetful Michael.

Now the story of a family whose futures were abruptly cancelled. This is Michael’s Arrested Development.

Six months previously...

Michael has finally made it to Phoenix! Or rather, Michael is living in a dorm with George Michael and attending the University of Phoenix online. He can’t remember his password.

George Michael: What do we always say is the most important thing?
Michael: Family? I tried that. It does not work for me. | permalink

Michael talks a lot about how he’s improving his life. Things are so great! He has no secrets from his son! We can all tell Michael and George Michael are closer than ever since Michael joins George Michael in the shower despite there being an empty stall right next door. Yep, that’s definitely a sign Michael is totally good.

George Michael awkwardly tries to tell his dad he’s hoping to get away from being called George Michael and I do a little cheer because yes, everyone knows George Michael is a terrible name. There's a newflash to footage of a reporter covering George Michael’s arrest. Michael suggests Boy George as George Michael's new name just as a news anchor in “Actual Britain” recounts the story of Boy George’s arrest. Maybe he should just go by Mike? Sadly, no one suggests that.

Let’s just assume everything George Michael says from now on is awkward, since Michael Cera is basically the most awkward person on the planet.

George Michael awkwardly tries to suggests he might want his privacy and Michael takes it...not well. Sad music. Michael calls them twins but begins packing his stuff and starts to cry. And of course, George Michael backs down and says he needs privacy...to work on his software! Juuuust software. Privacy software.

George Michael’s software is the opposite of Facebook. The anti-social network, if you will. But he needs time to develop it which might mean Michael "going." The sad-face music starts to play again and Michael intentionally misinterprets "going" to mean just for a few hours at a time. Totally cool, bro. No problem.

Arrested Development Season 4 Pic

Michael tries to use his phone but it doesn’t work, because it’s stuck in 2003. BA-DUM CHING. Today’s good news is Michael’s feature magazine article is coming out soon. It’s in Altitude, the second most popular in-flight magazine - third if you count the safety card. It’s going to be a real turning point for the company! Yes, that seems quite likely.

Now we’re all caught up to the point where the show got canceled. The party on the Queen Mary where Lucille stole the boat with the help of some hot seamen but turned back unexpectedly. News anchor calls Lucille a sea-ward matriarch. The case is being tried by maritime law, which takes place in a crab restaurant and Barry Zuckerkorn doesn’t know anything about it. Luckily Michael has studied maritime law, a passion ignited by his part in school play The Trial of Captain Hook. Flashback to that disaster, where a young flying Michael knocks a seal on the wall loose, causing a fantastic loose seal joke. Michael has been explaining the ins and outs of maritime law this whole time but no one cares.

The whole family is in Balboa Towers trying to figure out what’s going on with everyone, i.e. who has the money. Turns out George Sr. had some stimulus money but used it all to buy land in the desert. He has to move there because he and Lucille are getting a divorce. Buster, sitting on the couch, makes a terrible, terrible noise. He’s not handling this news well at all. Michael is angry George Sr. didn’t use the money to finish Sudden Valley although I have no idea why he’s surprised by anything his family does at this point.

This is the last straw for Michael, who crosses the hall, sells all his shares of Bluth stock to Lucille 2 (which makes her the majority shareholder), tells his family to shove it, sends George Michael to college and uses the money to finish Sudden Valley.

Then all his problems are solved and he lives happily ever after.

No wait, there are 14 more episodes.

Michael doesn’t show up for his mother’s trial. The real estate market crashes, there’s no cable or cell service in Sudden Valley, the town doesn’t build a road to their road, a tumbleweed blows into the house and the mailman dies.

Despite borrowing more money from Lucille 2, he can’t handle it. That’s when Michael decides living with George Michael is his best option.

Back at UC Irvine, Michael is looking for George Michael. He finds him in the computer lab (there’s a computer lab?) and shares the good news: his article in Altitude is coming out today! George Michael's roommate P-Hound is less than impressed and Michael lashes out at him.

Sometimes when things are rough I lash out too, Michael Bluth. Just not usually at children.

To be fair, Altitude is totally different from Attitude. Then Michael cracks P-Hound can’t get a girl, although George Michael can’t really either. A few days earlier Michael found Maebe in George Michael's room Maebe. Maebe!! With kind of terrible hair!

Of course she’s just there to visit. George Michael is her cousin and she’s not attracted to him anyway. Why does that even matter, wonders a hurt George Michael.

Michael realizes he’s got three votes on his side and tries to arrange a secret ballot to get P-Hound out of the dorm room. Adios Brothiero! It takes all day for him to figure out how to make it work, since clearly just voting 3 against 1 isn’t an option. Of course this plan backfires and Michael gets voted out 4 to 0. Silently. Since no speaking after the vote was part of his plan. The biggest blow is when he reads the last ballot: "Da..Michael."

He gives prayer hands on the way out the door to save face and heads to the airport with his empty luggage and tries to get a copy of Altitude magazine. It’s a lot harder to get a copy of the second most popular in-flight magazine than one might think.

Michael tries to explain that he just wants to walk onto the plane. “Sure, we just let people walk onto the plane all the time. Do you want a box-cutter?” snarks the useless guy behind the counter. Now I kind of want to punch him.

Finally Michael buys a one way ticket on the airline's second-cheapest flight because he’d rather pay more money that go to Pittsburgh. After a fight with security over the empty suitcase - and explaining the whole P-Hound situation in detail - Michael finally gets onto a plane and tracks down a copy of the magazine. And there he is! Right in the middle of a full page spread, with a full color picture of him making prayer-hands on one side and the text “Michael Bluth is praying you’ll fix his huge mistake” on the other side. Something tells me that’s not what he was expecting to see.

Despite all of this, Michael is in Phoenix, getting a fresh start and has hope. And that's what the Bluths have been up to for the last 7 years.

What did you think of the return of Arrested Development? Did it live up to expectations?

Suzanne Davis is a guest contributor for TV Fanatic. When she's not commanding her ginger army at Bebehblog, you can find her on Twitter.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (33 Votes)
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These so called "reviews" of the episodes are lame as sh*t.. Why not write a proper REVIEW instead of just describing whats going on during the episodes? This is not the TVFanatic I've grown to love. Would someone please put the 15-days-Arrested Development-Review-Project-thingy out of its misery?

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agreed with the other comments, this is a recap not a review. Hope the other episodes are properly reviewed.

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Review? REVIEW?!? Who are you trying to fool? Is the "reviewer" getting paid per word, and taking the easy way out by just writing down whatever happens in the episode? Well we (the readers) object to this. We want rants and opinions, praise and shit-throwing. Whatever shows a little bit of competence and emotion by the writer(s). So come ON!

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I HATE THIS $***! You put up a "review," only to provide a synopsis of the episode as a whole. Who would come here to read this when they could just watch the show and, like you, decide for themselves and even more like you, apparently keep it to themselves???!!! Unless you're interested in A.D., the Novella- this article is just a waste of time summary. Howzabout an opinion??

Joyeful

I don't think this can fairly be called a review - it's mostly a recap of the entire episode. A better piece would have been to actually review the episodes strengths & weaknesses. I personally LOVED this episode. This is frankly the most pathetic we've ever seen Michael, and it was amazingly awkward, sad, hilarious and compelling to watch. Without the stability of a job and the backdrop of his even crazier family to make him look normal, the man is a wreck.
His friction with George-Michael also introduces a new dynamic to the show. In the old show, they had probably the most normal, solid, likeable relationship. Not so much anymore.

Arrested Development Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

I'm going to have sex with you. For money.

Michael [to Lucille]

George Michael: What do we always say is the most important thing?
Michael: Family? I tried that. It does not work for me.