Arrested Development: The Bluths Are Back

Arrested Development: Season 5 (2015)

Creator – Mitchell Hurwitz

Starring – Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, David Cross

Rating – TV-14

Genre – Comedy

Streaming on Netflix

Now the review of a cult comedy which got canceled, and then the one studio that had no choice but to keep new episodes coming. It’s Arrested Development: Season 5 (Part 1).

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The Bluth familia is back yet again. Five years can be a long time between seasons, but Arrested Development takes no time to get back into form. Viewers will welcome this season with open arms; it is a closer spiritual successor to the first three seasons than Season 5.

Quick aside: If you haven’t seen Season 4, however, Season 5 will make little sense. So make sure to binge the remix entitled Fatal Consequences and come back to 5.

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Per usual, our primary character, Michael, played by Jason Bateman, finds solace in being the family’s straight man. Michael is more likable this season after some terrible mishaps in the season before, which allows us to care more about him and his relationship with his son.

The most remarkable performances, however, come from Jessica Walter as Monster Mother, Tony Hale as Mother’s Monster, and David Cross as a fiery Tobias. Cross constantly steals the show from the Bluth family, even as they are pushing him away. Throughout these 8 episodes, I found the aforementioned trifecta emerging as the highlights of the season.

Most of the other characters and their foibles are hilarious (e.g. Rebel Alley and George Michael). However, a few beg for more hilarity. For example, G.O.B.’s closet conversion storyline can be funny at times, but not as much as Will Arnett delivers elsewhere. Likewise, while Alia Shawkat can hold her own in season 5, Maeby’s lines just don’t cause me to laugh like have before. And Portia De Rossi’s Lindsay simply isn’t in the season enough to cause me to remember anything funny she says or does. Fortunately, gag-wise, Season 5 adds plentiful jokes to the ongoing comedic corpus. If Part 2 of Season 5 references these earlier jokes while continuing to reference earlier seasons, it will only make the season stronger overall.

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After five years (or 12 if you still refuse to watch Season 4), some atrophy shows: Episodes 3 and 7 are the weakest in terms of humor, and the plots points in Episodes 7 and 8 feel overly contrived. Occasional jokes pertaining to side characters like Joni Beard, Stan Sitwell, and Sally Sitwell made me feel uncomfortable. Lastly, the set pieces (e.g., Imagine Entertainment) and the lighting (e.g., Ron Howard at his house party) show some production missteps.
In all, Season 5 is a new start with an old heart. These first 8 episodes are a worthy addition to the Bluth family story. If Part 2 ties all the loose seals strings together, Season 5 can be praised alongside Seasons 1, 2, and 3. If it doesn’t, well, that would be a tale of arrested development.

Author: Matt Welborn

499 Rating: 8/10

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