Smashed, the second of Tobias’ episodes in Arrested Development Season Four, follows on from the unfortunate trapping of our man Fünke by John Beard’s TV show. Now a registered sex offender, he goes on work release to Lucille Austero’s rehab clinic to aid other people. This turns into a one-man journey to attain the rights to The Fantastic Four so he can put on a musical starring DeBris and, so they can spend time together, ignoring any of his required therapy and the needs of everyone else. Tobias, you blow hard.
Running 35 minutes, it’s extraordinarily tough at times to sit through this odd outing, as Tobias’ complete lack of awareness becomes annoying when other people fall on the sword for him. Apart from an entertaining moment of physical relief with Ron Howard, a scene which finally moves Michael’s plot forward with regard to Howard’s daughter, Rebel, it’s mostly a duff half hour. The only thing it does is introduce us to Lucille Austero’s brother, the man in charge of the rehab clinic who shares Tobias’ love of the spotlight. He is essentially a slightly less extreme version of Tobias, so the two of them together don’t offer anything in the way of an enjoyable dynamic.
Perhaps more troubling, the DeBris character (played by Maria Bamford) just dwindles in this second appearance. Going from being an addict on the streets to failing at rehab, she’s a bit of a slog to watch. While it could have been funny to see her fall back into her druggie ways because Tobias is so bad as a medical expert, it just becomes aggravating to see so much time wasted on an idea that isn’t executed anywhere near as well as it should be.
Tobias’ story ends in a lacklustre way – the Fantastic Four musical build-up only offers a rather dull training montage rather than an actual interest in music or Fantastic Four – and while we see some of the end result over the credits, it’s barely catchy, not funny, and Tobias doesn’t even come close to wrapping up any of the story we’ve sat through in the previous 70 minutes. At this point in Piranha 3DD, the outtakes would have already started. Is Arrested Development’s storytelling not as concise as a 3D comedy-horror sequel about killer fish?
Tobias was an enjoyable member of the ensemble on the broadcast show. His weird and crazy schemes were always a highlight of many background jokes, but pushing him to the forefront becomes something that hurts more as it goes on. Even a tired call back to blueing oneself only elicits groans – by the time the show reverts to calling him Anustart for the fiftieth time, it feels like maybe this Fünke needs to get the band back together to be funny again.
Oh, Tobias. You blow. Hard.
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.