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12 Observations On What Worked & What Didn't In The New Netflix Season Of ‘Arrested Development’

Photo of Rodrigo Perez By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist May 28, 2013 at 2:03PM

Binging is the new black. And thus the desire to not only gorge, but to insta-weigh-in on the new Netflix season of “Arrested Development,” which premiered over the Memorial Weekend, is in full effect. The cult of ‘AD’ has grown to a deafening roar over the years, the anticipation and expectations at the prospect of the show’s triumphant return were at an all time high going into the weekend. “Arrested Development” was neglected and then canceled in 2006 by 20th Century Fox and somehow defied the odds to return seven years later with a new lease on life thanks to Netflix and their own expanding desire for (semi) original programming. But if you’re disappointed with this new season, it may be easy to understand why. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.
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Arrested Development, Netflix
11. “Arrested Development” always got better with multiple viewings.
“Arrested Development” was always layered, at least joke wise. And now it’s over-layered both plot, joke and plot-connected-to-joke wise. The appreciation for the show has increased with multiple viewings and it’s very possible that this could be the case for the Netflix season, but if that’s indeed what transpires, it’s a long tail game that may not pay off any time soon.

12. The entire series is supposed to serve as the first act for a would be movie, but that doesn’t quite work either.
The inherent problem here is twofold. First acts in films are supposed to establish the universe of its story (check) and propel the story forward, the basic idea being: a significant act occurs at the end of the first act leaving the protagonist to commit to whatever narrative challenge or obstacle they face (most of the time anyhow). It's no going back at this point for the central protagonists.

But "Arrested Development" mostly lacks a central protagonist, the family ends in more disarray than ever and the series concludes on much more of a TV-like cliffhanger. Movies and TV are two different mediums and given the fact that ‘AD’ doesn't even really work in 35 minute chunks it remains to be seen if the show's format could work over the span of a two hour movie.

The Bottom Line Mini Review: Netflix’s ‘Arrested Development’ Miscalculates; Emphasizes Dense Plotting At The Expense Of Humor & Satisfying Conclusion
Complex, layered and dense? Yes, but not necessarily always funny. You might be frustrated, but stay the course, before you abandon “Arrested Development.” The show begins to get better later in the game when the convoluted storylines start to come together and sometimes in a way that's shockingly brilliant and pretty funny. That said, overall, this new season is really uneven and the producers make the fundamental error of confusing dense, layered and complex for deepness, comedy and a satisfying experience. The intricacies of the show could turn off a lot of people because of instead of laughing they're going have no clue what's going on.

The show emphasizes it's interconnectedness over humor to a fault, essentially obsessed with the way it all connects, the bigger picture, without focusing on the here and now. Also the setup is fundamentally flawed -- there’s little of the group dynamic that made the show so beloved, and the cutting to A, B, C, & D storylines is now no longer achieved within one episode, but takes place often several episodes down the road, and by then may have lost its impact. The new direction, while again, highly ambitious is nowhere near as tight and punchy, and its ending is far from satisfying.

Has “Arrested Development” lost its touch? Maybe not exactly, but it’s sure missed a step. We suspect, Hurwitz and co. will want to attempt a post mortem rethink about the future of the series. [C+]


This article is related to: Arrested Development, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, David Cross, Michael Cera, Television, Portia De Rossi, Alia Shawkat, Mitch Hurwitz, Features, TV News


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