TV reviews

Arrested Development 5×02 – ‘Self-Deportation’ – TV Review

“You don’t understand how hard it is in Hollywood right now. You have to crank out these family dramas before they let you make your dream superhero movie.” – Kitty Sanchez

Although season five of Arrested Development consists of 16 episodes, the bad news is that only half of these are currently available on Netflix, with the second half of the season dropping sometime later this year, date currently unknown. The good news, however, is that the original intro is back! Michael is back to keeping the family together!

The second episode of the season, ‘Self-Deportation’, sees most of the Bluths headed, individually, to Mexico, for varyingly believable reasons. Presumably there is an eventual point to this – such things often take a while to pay off in this show – but in this episode it doesn’t really seem to advance the plot, or provide many laughs. It all seems a little forced and rather back and forth.

It’s worth noting, for anyone just joining the show, that the America/Mexico border wall plot-line is from season four, in 2013, and the entire comic aspect of it is THAT IT’S A CRAZY IDEA. The show, already happily self-referential, really had no choice this season but to acknowledge the reality, in the actual real world, of what was once merely ridiculous plot. And so it is that Lucille Bluth turns on the television to find Donald Trump announcing his presidential candidacy and is horrified that he has stolen her idea.

At this point in its rather broken run, flashbacks to scenes from previous seasons are entirely necessary in order to remind viewers of what connects up where. Unfortunately, this does have the effect of somewhat slowing the show’s usual fast pace. It is also rather jarring, and doesn’t always explain the whens and whys of the various plots, even with the addition of Ron Howard’s narration. But if the timeline seems a little confusing, it’s best to just not worry about it, to keep watching, to move on. Hopefully it will all make sense in the end.

We see more of Buster Bluth in this episode, now sporting a de-skinned robotic hand which is presented as terrifying. Is it though? Should it be? I was wondering how Tony Hale, in his late 40s, was going to handle playing the still-immature Buster, whether he would need to amplify or ease-up on the giggling and eye-rolling, but in his interactions with Jason Bateman as Michael he hits his stride perfectly.

If the interactions between Tobias (David Cross) and Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter), and Gob (Will Arnett) and George Senior (Jeffrey Tambor), don’t feel as funny as they perhaps should – well, hopefully they’ll come along. Thankfully the wonderful Judy Greer makes an appearance as Kitty Sanchez, now working for Imagine Entertainment but just as hostile as ever, and now with additional in-jokes about the company.

Onwards and upwards: we’re only two episodes in and there’s still everything to play for.

Arrested Development Season 5 is now airing on Netflix. Let us know what you make of it.

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