"Arrested Development" Gets an "Elvis"

If you're an Arrested Development fan, chances are you spent over seven hours on the couch this weekend binge-watching the 15 new episodes that premiered on Netflix early Sunday morning. Don't worry, we did too. We had two staffers sit down in a "Something" hangout with two Mother Jones reporters to hash out the fourth season and its best moments. Warning: potential spoilers.

Jaime Fuller, associate editor

Ok, so Arrested Development season four! what did everyone think?

Asawin Suebsaeng, reporting fellow at Mother Jones

I give it an "A -". First off, to the haters: Fuck the haters, because who the hell in their right mind would be expecting this to be as good as the original run?

Abby Rapoport, reporter

I'm not done yet. But midway through I'd give the first episode a "B" and then everything else an "A."

Tim Murphy, reporter at Mother Jones

I was originally a lot more down on it. If you had me after five episodes, I would have given it a "C+" or what Maeby's school would call "Elvis." Ultimately, I gave it a B+/A- (I don't know what Maeby's old school would have given it)

Asawin S.

Like, I had trouble distinguishing between disillusioned '08 Obama voters and disappointed Arrested fans. If the AD guys are the Rolling Stones, then this season was Tattoo You, and the past ones were like Exile on Main St. or December's Children. Nothing wrong with that.

Tim M.

That might be a good analogy, given the emphasis on the war on terror by both.                 

Jaime F. 

The new format makes it hard to compare the two. The first three seasons were lightning fast, one joke after the next, always propelling forward, where this season was rewatching the same moment over and over again, and finding the new jokes the more you mowed over that one moment. Actually, I guess in that way, it simulated the experience we all have watching the first three seasons over and over again, and finally finding all the jokes.

Abby R

I'm with Jaime—and I sort of feel like I'm gonna have to watch it 10 to 1000 more times before I can make a real judgment

Asawin S.

Also, not to give to much away for Abby, but I love how Buster is now a war criminal.       

Tim M.

Yeah, I think in a lot of ways the Iraq stuff is still the most resonant from the original series and they don't spend too much on it, but Buster's brief foray was pretty awesome.  

Abby R.

I will say that the biggest problem for me is the lack of Buster in all previous episodes—I know he's a Milford Man, but seriously.     

Asawin S.

The approach to politics in this season (for obvious reasons, due to the Netflix situation, etc.) is far less aggressive and significant a component than the original run           

Tim M.

Well, it seemed like they wrote it during a three-week stretch of 2011 after Politico's Herman Cain story

Asawin S.

Like, the Iraq and Bush stuff was great, and now we have a few sweet but mostly brief brushes with housing/financial crisis, drone warfare, birtherism. 

Jaime F.  

There are a lot of ways to Patton Oswalt this for the movie. I'm pretty sure that Buster's drone is involved in a major plot point in Homeland.

Tim M.

The moment I realized they'd created a character based on Mark Block, Herman Cain's chief of staff, was the moment I officially fell back in love with Arrested Development    

Asawin S.

BTW, total Arrested Development move that they did a character based on Herman Cain, with, as a tweep pointed out to me, Mia Love's last name. And I thought they actually pulled the Herman Cain thing off in a way that wasn't actually dated. You didn't actually have to know anything about Cain for that to be funny.     

Tim M.

I guess I'd normally be pretty uncomfortable with a show preying on stereotypes of a womanizing fast-talking black politician but they were kind of overt enough in their allusion.

Asawin S.

And the Block reference was so "blink you'll miss" with the smoking, that I think it avoids the datedness nicely

Jaime F.

And I appreciate all references to "I am America."           

Asawin S.

Yes. That was all the #yolo in the world.

Tim M.

The other amazing quasi-political addition was the housing bubble.

Abby R.      

I'd say overall the soundtrack this time around was as good as ever. I had getaway getaway in my head for ages

Asawin S.      

That was really good. Both the housing bubble and getaway getaway  

Tim M.

Getaway    

Asawin S.

Yes. Getaway, GETaway

Jaime F.

It's the pre-Taylor Swift Goat remix Taylor Swift goat remix      

Tim M.

I mean that was a legitimately good song. Not good. I don't actually mean good.

Abby R.     

I'd sort of forgotten I'd ever watched Entourage     

Asawin S.

LOL the club named "and Jeremy Piven"          

Tim M.

Wait that was really the name of the club?     

Abby R.    

YES. Although one thing that was hard to figure out about the series is that obviously it's sort of telling us about the last five years [and] I got confused where we were in time a lot.

Tim M.

Yeah, and that was my biggest issue with it—it covered too much ground. And somehow still felt slow.

Jaime F.

I feel like the season was more trying to sum up the feeling of the immediate post-recession, look at how much the recent past sucked, how stupid we acted, more than comment on the now-now.         

Tim M.

Yeah           

Asawin S.

Yes, agreed

Abby R.    

I felt like I had to adjust to the pacing, but it didn't feel slow to me.  

Jaime F.

Well, the slowness was definitely mostly due to the Rashomon factor.

Asawin S.

There was absolutely no Arrested Development coverage of Benghazi or #gosnell, the media blackout infects everything. What did Mitch Hurwitz know and when did he know it??

Jaime F.

Now that I think about it, probably overanalyzing here, but the one way the slow Rashomon thing worked really well was in that the more you uncovered by looking at the same incident from many angles, the more awful you found out it was, and the darker the episodes got. Which is basically what's happening with the recession and the housing crisis. The last few episodes of the season are not in a happy place. 

Asawin S.

I like your take, Jaime. So, without ruining any potential reveals for Abby, favorite gag this season?

Tim M.

Showstealer Pro.

Asawin S.

Catchiest for me was "GETaway", but fave was ... at least for now, drone warfare. Think I laughed the hardest at that and had to pause. 

Tim M.

Oh, my favorite was definitely the Mark Block cameo. 

Jaime F.

Halliburton Teen and Showstealer Pro were both wonderful.

Asawin S.

"Take THAT Taliban wedding!"

Tim M.

Haliburton Teen!

Abby R.        

Hal and Burton's Frozen Goat Milk. And I did really enjoy John Beard throughout. I wish "To Entrap A Local Predator: Orange County: Supercreeps" was a real show. I would watch.

Jaime F.    

Yes, the more I think about all the parts of this season, the more I love it.

Abby R.

I think that it will be even better a second time around

Tim M.

I mean, really, the point of Arrested Development is to let you in on a new world of inside jokes. And Season Four accomplished that.

Jaime F.

Truth.

Also, I think Season 5 should have each episode helmed by a different director, so they have a new narrative ploy to try out.

Tim M.

Right, like they did with that Bob Dylan movie.       

Asawin S.

Or the Fast & Furious franchise.

Tim M.

Same thing, really.

Jaime F.          

I'm going to keep pressing this until Pedro Almodovar directs Talk to Her?

Abby R.

I vote for that.

Jaime F.  

And Kathryn Bigelow directs Point Scandalbreak.

Asawin S.

Paul Verhoeven's Total Roofie Circle.

Tim M.

Werner Herzog's The Life of Gob. Baz Luhrmann's Bluth.

Asawin S.

Michael Bay's Pain & Bluth.  Harmony Korine's Spring Bluthers.

Tim M.

But I seriously wanted to watch Gangie on the Ganges. And really everything in the Gangie series. I'm also really curious how many other families actually call their grandma "Gangie."

Abby R.          

Can I just say, I am so glad they yielded to fans and brought back Steve Holt. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.                

Jaime F.

All of the maritime law stuff was great. Chareth Cutestory!   

Tim M.

Yeah, and speaking of which, the backstory on how they ended up with Barry Zuckercorn... 

Jaime F.

YES           

Tim M.

The anti-Saul Goodman  

Abby R.

That was awesome

Asawin S.

Yeah, who was that who played young Barry? Looked exactly like Winkler!!

Jaime F.

Max Winkler. Max Winkler directed probably the best episode of New Girl.

Tim M.

The sad thing is I think I've probably gleaned some inaccurate legal lessons just from repeated rewatchings of AD. Like, such as, the "you can't charge a husband and wife for the same crime" bit.

Abby R.       

Remember: Never sign anything.

Asawin S.

TAKE TO THE SEA.

Tim M.

"Take to the Sea" is Latin for YOLO.

Jaime F.

On that note ... I think we're done.

Asawin S.

My final word on ADS4: It wasn't all the #yolo, but it was certainly a good deal of it. #YOLO

This discussion has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Comments

I think that the first three seasons were lightning fast, one joke after the next, always propelling forward, where this season was rewatching the same moment over and over again, and finding the new jokes the more you mowed over that one moment yachtcharter griechenland

You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)

Connect
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Advertisement