Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on May 30, 2013

ad-s4The fourth season of Arrested Development is very strange but ultimately very good. It’s a format that is impossible on network TV because it basically requires filming the entire season first then editing the whole mess together. And probably near-impossible on cable, just because of how confusing it could be if doled out in 30 minute chunks a week at a time. I was a little worried at first, to be honest, since the early episodes felt so radically different from the original series. But the later episodes, as they started to tie all the plot threads together, felt a lot like the earlier seasons. Or at least like the sometimes manic endings of episodes that brought various elements of the episodes (and past episodes) together for something big. Just that this time, they spent several episodes telling relatively traditional stories, but unbeknownst to the viewers, they were setting up jokes for later. And sometimes punchlines before the setups.

I understand that part of the reason for the odd format was because it was difficult to schedule the main cast to be around at the same time, but the results are actually pretty interesting to me. I think it might be really off-putting to non-hardcore fans, though. It’s easily the most complicated season of a comedy series I’ve ever seen. And it’s more complex than nearly all dramas. It jumps around in time a lot, shows you the same events from a bunch of different angles, and relies on you keeping a lot of it straight to understand not just the jokes but some major plot points. The narration helps out, but sometimes things are pretty frantic, and even with Ron Howard telling you what’s happening, you can miss things. Plus, the general thought was that one of the reasons that the show didn’t catch on was that the characters weren’t likable except Michael and George Michael. And Michael, at least, is a ton less likable here.

I’m not sure it’s quite as good as the first three seasons, but it’s still something I enjoyed. And will re-watch at least a few more times to make sure I’ve picked up everything.

A really long list of things I noticed in the first re-watch or otherwise found interesting. With obviously lots of spoilers:

  • So what was up with the shipping containers in all the promotional material? I didn’t pay a ton of attention to it, but they were always showing shipping containers. And unless I’m missing something, absolutely nothing in this season referenced shipping containers in any way.
  • “Get this: Beverly Hills” is repeated several times early on. I’m not sure why.
  • Michael has forgotten the Spanish word for brother, now saying “brothero.”
  • There is a reference to doing a “something” search before the map car scene ever sets that joke up.
  • When Michael arrives in Phoenix, there’s a mural on the wall in the airport that has a ton of stuff from the first 3 seasons. Stair car, the cabin, Ann, the Queen Mary, etc.
  • Lindsey’s Shaman is actually in the credits as Rich Aliandanost, which I didn’t get for a while, but it’s “alia and an ost, rich.”
  • I totally did not get Tobias’ “it’s just a fallacy” song, it’s supposed to be “is that a gal I see, no it’s just a phallus, eeee!”
  • “I met a girl to day, and her name is… shit!” is probably my favorite joke in the whole season.
  • They did not put the Showstealer Pro watermark on the footage from the George Sr. episode of Scandalmakers or on footage in Tobias’ acting reel. So I guess the idea is that the makers of season 4 couldn’t get the rights to season 1-3, but they could get the rights to Scandalmakers and the family’s personal footage?
  • The sheep that drowned out Rebel’s name at the concert shows up in the photobooth pictures of Michael and Rebel, just like Buster’s Catalina pictures.
  • Young Barry Zuckercorn is played by Max Winkler, Henry Winkler’s son.
  • That an actual low-budget Fantastic Four movie was once made to keep the rights from expiring seems like a thing that’s not common knowledge. (it was not made by Imagine Generic)
  • Orange County Imagine has posters in spanish for a bunch of Ron Howard movies. Cinderella Man is turned into “Senor Princcesa” or “Mr. Princess.” And The Dilemma is “two men, one of whom sees the other man’s woman with a man who is not the other man…” (and it keeps going).
  • Lucille’s prison serial number is 07734, which read upside-down is Hello, for the man who put her there.
  • When Lucille 2 is attacked by the ostrich, she’s singing “Getaway,” the pop song that we hadn’t yet seen be written about Gob.
  • “and” the nightclub owned by Jeremy Piven, from the Entourage opening credits is a great joke. And probably confusing as hell to people that never saw that opening.
  • Tony Wonder’s gay magician article is in Attitude, the magazine P. Hound thought Michael meant when he said he was in Altitude.
  • I tried to look for a crucifix on Pastor Veal that disappeared while he was in the cave, but I couldn’t see anything.
  • Lindsey’s “Lucille2 4 Congres” banner is on the back of the “you’re killing me, Buster” poster.
  • When trying not to be recognized by Marky, Lindsey uses the same hoarse voice that made Steve Holt think she used to be a man.
  • Lucille 2 picks Sally Sitwell over Lindsey for campaign manager because of Sally’s beautiful long hair. Which we now know is a wig, because she’s an alpaca.
  • Lindsey’s speech is interrupted by someone clearly saying “viva Mongolia,” it’s insane that I did not notice that.
  • George Maharis is apparently a real guy, an actor who, like George Michael and Boy Gorge, was once arrested for lewd conduct in a bathroom. With a guy named Perfecto Telles.
  • The tagline for Gangie V: Gangie on the Gances is “Eat, Pray, Love, Run!”.
  • Maeby’s yearbook photo lists the clubs she’s in as “Ealing, Friar’s.” The guy next to her is in the Eschaton Club which is… weird.
  • The text of the Deadline article announcing Maeby’s firing mentions her $50k royalty for each Gangie movie. It also says they asked to see Kitty Sanchez’s diploma and she handed them glitter-covered construction paper. But then the next Deadline headline is “Imagine Promotes High School Graduate Kitty Sanchez.”
  • Maeby’s subsequent senior years she used the names Maeby Finke, Maeby Featherbottom (she is from “Big Britain” and her quote is about how Americans are “a bunch of pussies”), and Maeby Flunke.
  • Maeby’s high school mascot is the Ostriches.
  • Weird, the realtor’s widow who calls to tell them they’re being forclosed on (and that Tobias has a Big Bang Theory callback) is voiced by Keri Russell.
  • George Michael gets hit in the back with a frisbee, just as he always does when people throw things to him.
  • The flashbacks over George Michael’s four years of college has some of the best lines of the season. “Boom! And that’s what we call only being behind by 3.” “Make me cry”/”You’re a terrible mother.”
  • John Beard quits the regular news (because the station has apparently been bankrupted in the real estate downturn), the airport news, and the gas pump news. And then I guess ends up at Imagine News at the end.
  • When Buster visits Lucille in prison, there’s a sign on the wall that says “no touching, do not pass any prohibited items to guests, no bees.”
  • “Pictures of Herbert Love with a lady of the night. And he’s got himself into some pretty hot ham water this time.”
  • Buster runs towards the stair car and the security camera timestamp is 09:23. It cuts to non-security footage and he sees Lucille 2 bloody on the car stairs. Then the body is gone seconds later and it cuts to security camera footage with a timestamp of 09:28. So her body didn’t just suddenly disappear, it was an edit.
  • “Do what everyone around here says, ‘put it in a Bluth.” I didn’t catch that the first time.
  • Between attempting to sleep with Lucille 2 and showing up at Gob’s place to be forget-me-now-ed, Michael changes into the banana stand uniform shirt. I assume this is somehow significant to what happened to Lucille 2.
  • If there is no resolution to the plethora of loose ends, I will be seriously pissed. Because season 3 ended with a real ending. And now they pull off a miracle and get to make more, and end on like 14 cliffhangers? If they don’t manage a season 5 or a movie, argh! I mean Jeffrey Tambor or Jessica Walter are both around 70, there’s no guarantee that they’re even alive in a couple years. They better get on this fast.
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