Ron Howard: “We Howards don’t just laugh when things are funny, we laugh when we’re happy!”
Paige Howard: “And when things are uncomfortable too!”
George-Michael: “Like when the bad reviews start rolling in, right?”
Half a dozen episodes into season five of Arrested Development and… it’s still not really gelling. Watching it is something of a labour, and I am rapidly falling out of love. Previous series weren’t this much work. It should have found its feet by now but instead it still feels like a muddled mess. It doesn’t even seem clever any more, and I have started to wonder (Did someone say Wonder?) whether its tangled threads are actually going to weave together into something worthwhile, or whether they are just – tangled
Episode six, ‘Emotional Baggage’, is a step back up from ‘Sinking Feelings’. There are a few standout lines of dialogue. I like the stuff they do with Buster’s hand. And Alia Shawkat really shines. But apart from that…
Is it still a comedy? Because it’s not really that funny any more. It seems to be relying on a lot of waffle and then LOOK AT THIS ONE HILARIOUS LINE THAT IS SO META! Whereas at its peak, its genius was that its humour was so throwaway, and you really had to pay attention. Has Arrested Development fallen prey to dumbing-down? Because at times it seems like a dumb pastiche of itself.
And speaking of meta… is this a show in danger of disappearing up its own a*sehole? Whilst I wasn’t at all dubious about the inclusion of Ron Howard and his fictional daughter Rebel Alley (Isla Fisher) in season four, is there really a need for the entire actual Howard clan to make an appearance in season five? I get that we’re contrasting the dysfunctional Bluths and the adorable Howards, but can we please focus on plot and dialogue instead? Things seem to have deteriorated since Ron became more than just the narrator.
And speaking of narration… it seems to be doing a lot of heavy lifting this season. Ron Howard’s voiceover was a device that worked best when used sparingly, to comment on the action, rather than explain it. But this season it seems to be trying to paper over the cracks, and push the story forward with huge chunks of exposition. And it’s getting a little tiresome.
I wondered, as one does sometimes, whether it was just me. Was I tired, or in a bad mood? Was it the recent New York Times interview with the cast that was souring my viewing experience? Have I lost perspective on Gob Bluth because I can only hear Bojack Horseman? I needed to know. So I checked in with a fellow fan of the show, the chap who insisted that I watch Arrested Development in the first place, and who raves about it to anyone who will listen. We had something of a Gob/Tony Wonder moment, where our thoughts on it were – SAME! He helped to clear things up for me.
Sorry Arrested Development, but it’s not me – it’s you.
Arrested Development: Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix. Let us know what you think of the new season.