Seven episodes in and we finally get to spend some time with GOB Bluth in Colony Collapse, as Will Arnett’s crazy magician gets 35 minutes dedicated to what he’s been up to after being punched by George Michael for dating Ann Veal (Mae Whitman) at the end of Season Three. What he’s been up to, it turns out, is a mix of awful magic and becoming a limo driver for pop star Mark Cherry and his entourage.
Add in cameos from Ben Stiller as rival Tony Wonder, Alan Tudyk as Ann’s father, Pastor Veal, and Ben Schwartz as newsreader John Beard’s party-boy son, and this episode is full of great comic talent all being very silly indeed. This is on the joke-over-plot side of Season Four’s spectrum, but unlike other instalments in this vein, almost every joke hits.
It is testament to how fun GOB is to watch that he can get away with doing absolutely horrible things to people and still remain a great character. To his son Steve Holt (Justin Grant Wade), he is awful, never there for him and doesn’t even recognise him; to his bride-to-be, he only cares about getting on her father’s TV show to perform his illusions. It’s clear he’s using these people, but he’s so enjoyably oblivious to how manipulative he is that he never becomes a full Lucille.
This episode introduces the Roofie Circle, a concept that is explained in painstaking detail by Ron Howard’s Narrator as GOB suffers. It starts off funny, then gets dragged out, but somehow finds its way back to being funny again; like The Simpsons’ Sideshow Bob and the rakes, they push it just far enough – and then a little bit more. On top of that, it’s great to see GOB become part of an entourage, if only because it feels perfect for him to be the Turtle of a group of people who are all Turtles.
A couple of musical tidbits, such as the song “Getaway” (sung because of GOB’s annoyance), become incredibly good earworms over time, peaking with GOB’s realisation of some huge mistakes, accompanied The Sound Of Silence – a touch that works well because it’s just silly enough for the fake documentary crew to have added on themselves.
Colony Collapse sees GOB at his most GOB-esque, hurting the ones he loves so that he can propel himself forward – and failing dismally. It has a high gag rate and, although it’s the longest episode yet, it flies by thanks to some excellent ideas, stories and jokes. We have high hopes for episodes like this to continue, especially the second of GOB’s stories, which seems to suggest that the feud between GOB and Stiller’s Tony hasn’t even begun.
GOB may be a crazy cartoon character who’s entirely unlikable, but Will Arnett is on fine form, making his solo outing the most enjoyable half hour of season four so far. A real delight.
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.