I’m as big an Arrested Development fan as the next fella (or lass). Okay, maybe not as big. I’m not sure I’d fare well at an AD trivia game. But I’ve seen every episode from the original three seasons and can appreciate the creative, witty, off-beat writing and top-notch cast of characters. So naturally, when news came of brand new episodes coming straight to Netflix, I was as excited as Buster Bluth rubbing a willing set of sore shoulders.
Full disclosure: I’ve only watched the first half of the new episodes. That said, whether or not you’ve seen any of them, this next statement may infuriate the AD loyalists:
Is it possible that these new episodes just aren’t THAT funny? Has too much time passed since it last aired? Have the characters grown too much to match the awkwardly blissful chemistry that made the show such a classic in the first place?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. I suppose it’s all subjective anyway. But they aren’t rhetorical. And at this juncture, things feel forced. It doesn’t flow as freely or as impeccably chaotic as seasons one, two and three. And with the new emphasis on one character per episode, the greatest tragedy of all is the lack of the legendary Tobias Funke. I mean, if Tobias blew himself during one of these episodes, it’s not a certainty that we’d get to see it! That, my friends, is tragic. But that’s not the only thing that has me less than optimistic about these new episodes:
1. Not enough Buster: Buster may play off the rest of the cast better than anyone, and his interactions in these new episodes have been few and far between. Surely there will be an upcoming episode that is more about him, but without the repetition of his ailments and soft-spoken “Hey brother,” it just leaves me sad and wanting more.
2. Too much George Sr. v. Oscar: This is a tired story line. And in these new episodes, it’s less about the differences between the twin brothers and more about the fact that they look and can be interchangeable in any given social or professional setting. George Sr. is now depicted as a frail and weak man, and not to benefit us laughing at his misfortune.
3. George Michael got too old: As we all know, actor Michael Cera has made a living playing the awkward, self-conscious guy. But, even though he isn’t far removed from that sort of type-casting, it feels like the writers don’t know what to do with him anymore. Now he’s in college, which essentially is a way to offer an excuse for his glaring absence.
What has your opinion been as you’ve watched these new episodes?
Maybe I’ll hear from a bunch of Bluth backers that I just need to watch the remaining episodes and will swiftly be reminded of this show’s brilliance. I hope that’s the case.
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