Yesterday Netflix premiered the 7-year anticipated fourth season of Arrested Development, and there was much rejoicing.
The entire central cast is back, and it would seem all the ancillary characters returned as well, including Liza Minnelli (who looks honestly hotter than she did seven years ago, somehow,) Scott Baio (who likewise hasn’t aged a day,) Carl Weathers (reprising his absurd, self-deprecating role as “Carl Weathers”,) and too many more to mention.
Right: The cast in a rare backstage candid shot, all in their regular street clothes. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGIFY)
I only had it in me to binge on seven of the episodes before I hit my story deadline, but that left plenty of room to enjoy the rest later, plus re-watch all of them. I’ve seen the first three seasons at least three times already, so repeat watching is a given.
The episodes are available exclusively on the streaming video service Netflix. That’s not to say you can’t find illegal copies, I’m confident they’re out there far and wide, but there’s really no reason to go that route. Firstly, you have to support the shows you love, or they won’t come back, and secondly… come on, it’s only Netflix. It’s not like we’re talking about cable money.
The show is set in 2006, near the height of the housing boom and subsequent collapse, something they don’t fail to exploit for more than a few laughs. The arc of the show is quite different from past seasons, but in a unique and refreshing way.
Rather than a linear timeline, each episode is essentially another take on the same events from another character’s perspective. The depth and layering of jokes for which the show is famous gets a better sandbox to play in, as subtle things from one episode come back to be important in later episodes.
You’ll notice I haven’t actually said anything about the show. That’s because I’m not going to. It’s too good to ruin. For old fans of the show, you simply have to check this out. For curious new viewers, it doesn’t rely much on old jokes without fully setting them up, so you realistically could pick it up right here and still enjoy it. And if you do, hey, 53 more episodes in the archives.
And the best thing about it being on Netflix is that they’re not slavish to the arbitrary 22-minute time slot format. Some episodes are 27-minutes, some are 31-minutes. It’s just whatever it takes to actually tell the story. Makes me wonder how many minute-plus scenes were cut from previous episodes just to fit the rigid half-hour television box.
To the people that already have Netflix, this is a must watch show. To the people who don’t have Netflix… dude, what gives? You know it would be cheaper to cancel your cable and just stream everything you love commercial-free on the web, right?
Personally, I was a hold-out. It wasn’t until about a month ago when it was made official that I finally signed up for Netflix. It’s better than Hulu by a mile, a fraction of the cost of Hulu-Plus, and it doesn’t bog you down with ads… I should point out at this point that I’m not affiliated with Netflix in any way, and they have never made so much as a peep of contact to me. No, this is for the love of Arrested Development. I’d likely lavish such praise on anyone who brought this show back.
The money still goes to the producers and everyone wins. Well, maybe not Cash 4 Gold, but they’ve already suckered enough poor saps. No reason to look out for them.