Arrested Development Season 5 [First Half] Review: What Worked and What Didn’t

After 5 year’s of waiting fans of the now 15 year spanning, iconic, Ron Howard narrated comedy have finally gotten new episodes they’ve been waiting for. This comes quickly after Netflix released a remastered Season 4 that reshuffled the more experimental, segmented season to view less jarringly split and resemble the format of the other season’s more closely. If you jumped straight back to season 5’s new episodes and were left wanting more of the Bluth family after that short 8 episodes we recommend revisiting season 4 in its updated form.
But how was season 5, that picked up right at the end of season 4? We will highlight what we thought were the strongest and weakest choices of the highly anticipated season, while completely ignoring the controversy that plagued the news surrounding its release because you can go read about that everywhere else. So sit back and escape with us as we review this half season.
Arrested Development – Netflix
1) Maeby’s growing complexity
In seasons past Alia Shawkat has been a continuing source of comedy gold coming off as almost a voice of reason at times as she dealt with her parents ridiculousness, even with her scheming and disguises. Maeby has been in a spiral though, and between her attempts to sabotage her mother and scamming an old folk’s home we were constantly amused and completely caught in her web of lies. Her scenes as Lucille Austero’s slightly younger sister Annette were our absolute favorite moments of season 5, and looping in Stan Sitwell felt like a genius move to add layers to the situation in the way we’ve come to expect from the series.
2) The introduction of Tobias’ son

Tobias has never been our favorite character on the series, as there’s a fine line between underdog and punching bag and a slippery slope to nuisance. His constant reinsertion as trying to portray different family members and his well-acted-horrible-acting felt tired and no where as funny as Blue-ing himself or the never-nude jokes. What fell even flatter was the constant presence of Tobias’ son Murphy Brown, portrayed by SNL veteran Kyle Mooney. Mooney does too well a job at portraying a character that was written to not fit in and to be disinterested in the parts he keeps being given, and it quickly became a chore to watch. What also became a chore was the revolving door of gay jokes surrounding Tobias and his son from the jump until he finally revealed their relation, but kept going until he remade the announcement to almost every character. It was funny at first, as funny as a second story line of questioned sexuality can be handles anyways, and I guess the “who is his mother/uncle?” [My money is on G.O.B. being involved since there was mention of juggling?], but I’d have completely forwent this story line and all of its jokes for a more interesting twist for Tobias. Sorry Kyle.

Arrested Development – Netflix
3) The repeating jokes
Its been a series staple to use the widespread cast to beat a joke to death. It’s always been a hit and miss situation for us, and this season is no different. The roll out of jokes as it comes out that the entire family hid the beach house from Michael? Hilarious, landed well, and came back in a spread out way to the last hit delivering decent laughs. the boat Everyone constantly on Tobias being gay? Stops being funny and becomes a chore. Maria Bamford’s return as DeBrie and impersonation of Lindsey coupled with. the re-use of the insults thrown at Portia during her short return from retirement? Hilarious. It seems to be that a boomerang joke works better when there’s a little time for it to leave our consciousness and return as a zinger. Maybe that’s why the incest jokes still aren’t hilarious to us, they percolate too close to the surface as a too-frequent tension.
4) The Reinsertion of Rebel Alley
Fourth wall breaks are great, and Ron Howard’s insertion to the series was funny and could remain funny in doses, but Rebel brings out the worst in our characters. The Howard family barbecue scene was funny but considering how she was playing George Michael and his father and didn’t communicate she was filming or realize he was gone made us uncomfortable she’d bring him to her high profile family. We pass on her and her story line. And we pass on the Bluth movie and even the streaming series within a series. It’s funny as a throwaway gag, not as plot.
5) Picking up where the story left off
We have mixed feelings on this. They could’ve done a summary of the Lucille Austero case or released a web comic to summarize a time jump or even done a slight montage, have the Bluth family seperate and reconvene in 2018 instead of having them stuck in 2015, but they didn’t. Doing so may have caused fan outrage, and there was still a lot of story to tell, so we get it, but they dragged their feet telling us the story. Season 5 has been plagued with too much explanation in the narration and “in case you forgot” tidbits as if everyone didn’t rewatch season 4 or just watch the show to get up to speed.
This squandered the potential of more dialogue, more jokes, and more story progression, which is what we are all desperate for after 5 years, but the ball felt dropped, or at least dropped slightly. We want more from the series, and we are hopegul that we may finally get it when the second half of Season 5 drops later this year!
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Author: Michael

Game of Nerds writer, comedian, tumblr enthusiast, twitter user. @Bonersniper for all things.

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