A New Attitude is our second episode with GOB Bluth and moving on from the catch-up between now and Season Three, we find GOB in a decent place. He may not be on track with son Steve Holt – Steve Holt! – but he’s out of the lifestyle of the rich and famous and finding himself in a mid-life crisis-type feud with rival magician Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller), now an openly gay performer. From GOB’s scheming ways to the surprising realisation of whom he truly loves, this war of wizards becomes a battle of no-brains that escalates into a romance of revenge that spawns what is truly the best episode of the season.
On top of this, Michael pops up to find out if his brother’s secret relationship is his love Rebel Alley (Isla Fisher). George Michael also appears, struggling with his father, but events remain very GOB-centric – and once more, this is a great thing.
Comedy is in full flying form with Will Arnett’s insane character, as he goes from angry man to deeply passionate lover. Using The Sound Of Silence again, the show creates some painfully funny moments with GOB’s new life, building to the kind of climax that the show used to do so often, which involves almost every element from the past 70 minutes of GOB we’ve been given. It’s a perfectly-formed conclusion that makes wading through the extended runtime of each episode totally worth it. (The episode also closes a few doors on plot mysteries and reveals the big love in Rebel Alley’s life, but we’ll get back to that in the next few episodes.)
For all the neat tying up this episode does, it introduces more of Sally Sitwell (Christine Taylor) as a scheming, possibly evil woman, completely unlike the Sally we’ve seen in previous seasons. The show never explains what has turned her from decent upstanding citizen to conniving woman, leaving us with another of Mitch Hurwitz’s great mysteries that feels more like a leap than a natural step for his characters.
Sitwell aside, A New Attitude is without a doubt the best episode in Season Four. It’s a shame for what’s to come next, but in the grand scheme of Arrested Development, this is the closest we get to old Arrested Development in terms of joke rate and sheer enjoyability – even if the extended runtime and other plot strands makes re-watching it a lot more irritating than the former 22-minute outings.
With Will Arnett being MVP of the programme, A New Attitude’s most golden moments involve him and Tony simply spending time with one another. In previous episodes, we’ve never seen them interact properly – GOB was forced to stay mute while Tony and Buster had a conversation – but seeing Stiller and Arnett together is a vastly more enjoyable experience than you could ever hope for. As the episode reaches its finale, we end up rooting against all odds for GOB and Tony not just to get revenge on one another but to become something more. The two outlandish characters act out a storyline that’s so much more cartoony than the rest of the season, yet this also feels the most real. Ann Veal (Mae Whitman) may return to complicate things, but by the end of this half hour, it seems like GOB might just have turned a new corner in his life.
With GOB’s episodes proving such an enjoyably silly ride, here’s hoping he won’t change that much.
For more on the Bluth’s new outings, read our Arrested Development interview with the case, our chat with Annyong, or our other Arrested Development Season 4 reviews.