Now that the much anticipated Arrested Development season 4 has been released and digested in varied paces by the viewing public, it’s time to look at the 15 episodes as a whole.
While Netflix doesn’t release numbers, one has to imagine quite a few people tuned into their computers and TVs, all waiting to see what the return of the Bluth family would bring. Were they happy? Or disappointed? Probably a little bit of both.
Let’s go ahead and look at what the high, and inevitable low, points of this fourth season were... Report Card style!
Best Episode: To pick one episode is difficult because of the way the season was engineered, but if I absolutely had to, I’d go with Buster’s episode, "Off The Hook." It was the perfect blend of old school Arrested Development ridiculousness and the new storytelling they had to go with to accommodate everyone’s schedules. Watching Buster attempt to move on from being a Motherboy, including a juice binge and a John Jr. outfit, was a delight. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the Herbert Love character, I most certainly enjoyed him a lot more when the "Blind Side Monster" was involved. It was actually the Blind Side Monster that made this episode the best of the season. Like I said in the episode review, that should not have been as funny as it was and it succeeded because of good writing and Tony Hale’s exceptional performance as Buster Bluth, Manboy Extraordinaire.
Worst Episode: Without a doubt, the worst episode of the season was the finale, "Blockheads." At first I thought it would have been one of the first few episodes that started off so slow and were mainly all expository work, but then the finale came around and not even sex offenders in ice cream trucks could save it. I appreciate that Hurwitz and the rest of the writers had to wrap things up and at the same time not wrap things up to leave the possibility of either another season or a movie, but the episode as a whole was pretty much Ron Howard telling a rather boring end to a story. It was equally disappointing because things had gotten so much better since those first few episodes and it would have been nice for season four to end on a high note but it so did not.,
Best Storyline: This isn’t even up for debate; Tobias Funke had the best storyline. It might be just because his was more contained and easily followed and it might be because David Cross as Tobias is so much fun to watch. There was so much of the Funke story that was entertaining: his insistence that the methadone clinic was actually an acting class called "Method One," his involvement with DeBrie that brought forth a different side of Tobias than we had ever seen before, and even the ridiculous "Fantastic Four: The Musical” was amusing.
Worst Storyline: The wall. There’s not even much I can say about it because every time Lucille and George started talking about the wall, my eyes glazed over and when I came back to conscious awareness I thought “I hate the wall.” I’ve never had such strong feelings about an architectural element before this season of Arrested Development and I hope to never revisit those feelings again.
Best Character: The easy choice would be GOB, Tobias, or Buster, but I’m going to have to say that the best characters of this season were the guest star secondary characters. Maria Bamford as DeBrie, Tommy Tune as Argyle Austero, Isla Fisher as Rebel Alley, Ben Stiller as Tony Wonder, and of course Terry Crews as Herbert Love. Even if I didn’t like the actual character they played (Herbert Love), these secondary characters pretty much saved this season. Had it just been the Bluth family I fear Arrested Development season 4 would have crashed and burned even more than some people felt it did.
Worst Character: I feel like I’m committing some crime here but the worst character of the season was Ron Howard. To his credit though, it was mainly due to the new storytelling engine that, as opposed to the first three seasons when the narrator was more of a “heh heh, hey audience let’s laugh at these buffoons together,” he was relegated to just being a regular narrator with little to no editorial commentary. Where he was once witty and smart, he now was boring and trite.
Season Grade: C+
Now it's your turn, TV Fanatics! What grade would you give Arrested Development Season 4?