TV reviews

Arrested Development 5×08 – ‘Premature Independence’ – TV Review

I wasn’t expecting much from ‘Premature Independence’ – episode eight of Arrested Development season five – and I wasn’t disappointed. But having said that, I did actually find it far more enjoyable than previous episodes. Possibly because it has a parade.

I wonder if part of the issue with this season is that it is working around the availability of its stars, and so can’t just come up with the best possible story and tell it in full, but instead has to work its plot around when specific actors are free to be on set. Adopted daughter Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), for example, showed up to declare that she would be running for office, then appeared briefly at the Bluth award ceremony, and has now gone off to find her real family. In previous series we might have seen Lindsay’s journey, but in this season – at least so far – she is just gone. And is the fact that Buster (Tony Hale) is being held in prison, and mostly away from the other characters, more down to availability than plot aspirations?

Anyway – the parade. This is the second of July parade (see previous review), and its highlights include the Milford Academy marching band (see previous seasons); Debrie Bardeaux (Maria Bamford) as Lindsay Bluth; Sally Sitwell (Christine Taylor) and Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) being catty with one another; a Lucille Austero (Liza Minnelli) piñata; and a Keystone Cops skit, complete with jerky motion and intertitles.

But the real star act of the parade is the ‘double closet, sexuality switch, two-hander float ILLUSION’ performed by Gob (Will Arnett) and Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller). We’ve all been Wondering if Tony would show up, so it’s actually pretty exciting when he does, and in reaction to Ron Howard’s narration too. The trick (nope!) itself is cringe-makingly awful, and when something goes wrong it’s not really a surprise. How it goes wrong, on the other hand – well, I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Despite my previous complaints about the excessive meta use of Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Imagine Entertainment in the show, I did get a laugh out of the payoff to an earlier set-up, when it turns out that it’s not Lucille 2 and Oscar Bluth in the staircar photo, but is actually Maeby (Alia Shawkat) and George-Michael (Michael Cera) playing ‘Ron and Brian go to Mexico’. Well played kids. Well played.

Look: honestly? This season isn’t terrible, it’s just terribly disappointing. I might be glad of the mid-season break, but – snarkiness aside – I’ll be eager to see how everything plays out. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on it. After all, Arrested Development has set itself a hard act to follow.

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

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