I’ll be doing two separate reviews of the new season, starting with a review of the season premiere, “Flight of the Phoenix.”
So, is it worth watching?
The answer to that question actually has very little to do with the actual episode. It really depends on the viewer, of which there are two main types:
The longtime fans: these are the ones that have been through it all. They know all of the inside jokes, have obsessed over the show for years, and are to this day still mad about the show’s “abrupt cancellation” (as the new episode describes it).
A lot of these longtime fans seemed to really dislike “Flight of the Phoenix,” and the entire 4th season in general. I had one friend who referred to the whole thing as garbage. Other longtime fans said that the new episodes just weren’t as good, and they were disappointed.
I’m only speculating, but I believe this has more to do with them than the actual quality of the new season. For the past seven years, Arrested Development has evolved from being a hidden gem to a mainstream meme. I think this has led to fatigue.
A lot of people who have stuck with the show from the beginning have been expecting the worst because they are honestly sick of the show’s rise to popularity that made this new season happen in the first place. I had one friend even admit that his disdain of the new season comes from the fact that this new season was made for the new fans of the show (hence, it’s on Netflix), ignoring the longtime fans who discovered the show in the first place.
Some longtime fans have been a little more forgiving, claiming that the new season, while not as good as the previous, is okay. They were a little more apprehensive going into the new season, but they still gave it a chance.
Which leads me to,
The newer fans: I’m one of these. See, the show came out when I was in high school, so I was too young to know what it is or appreciate it. I was more into Scrubs and Family Guy, to be honest.
Like many people, I didn’t discover the show until much later after the series finale. In 2010, one of my friends let me borrow the first two seasons, insisting that this was “the best show ever.” I was immediately hooked and have been watching the series on repeat via Netflix ever since.
When I first heard about the new season, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to see more of the Bluth gang, so I was pretty confused when a lot of other people were acting like they just found out they have a cavity.
The longtime fans, and even some of the newer fans, were being incredibly pessimistic about the new season, and I think it’s because to them, this show represents more than entertainment. They feel like they have a certain ownership over the show, being the early adopters, and us newer fans sort of swooped in.
I get that to a point, but I feel bad for those who went into the 4th season with such abysmal expectations, because I thoroughly enjoyed “Flight of the Phoenix.”
It was different, for sure, and the timeline of the story was a little difficult to follow at times. But it delivered. Everything I love about the show is still here: the clever writing, easter eggs, perfect delivery, and hilarious story were all present and accounted for.
I was especially surprised by how well the characters fit back into their previous roles. The first episode focused primarily on Michael, and what he’s been up to since the end of Season 3. It was depressing at times, but still lighthearted. The chemistry between the characters has always been the show’s strong point, and I saw that on full display.
Speaking of which, most of the cast showed up in the premiere, including the Bluth parents, Buster, Gob, George Michael, Maeby, and even Barry. But I was glad that they decided to gently bring back Tobias and Lindsey, who are apparently showing up in the second episode. Seriously, Tobias should just have his own show already.
The cameos were amazing, save for Seth Rogen trying to portray a young George Sr. That just didn’t work, especially when you have Kristen Wiig flawlessly capturing young Lucille. The Workaholics gang was even there, too, which was hysterical.
Is the new season worth watching? Absolutely. It has everything that made fans like me fall in love with it in the first place, and it is still ahead of its time 10 years after the pilot.
If you’re on the fence about diving into the new season, I definitely recommend you give it a chance. Worst-case scenario, you will have made a huge mistake.