Netflix review: Arrested Development Series 4 Episode 4
Andrew Jones | On 28, May 2013
Michael’s second episode, titled The B. Team, jumps this season back to some of the light, silly Hollywood laugh-in stuff that we used to enjoy. It takes Michael to Imagine Entertainment, where the long-gestated Bluth family movie from the end of Season Three is still trying to happen. He is employed as a co-producer to get his family to sign their life rights over.
The B. Team isn’t subtle by any stretch but comes with some welcome return cameos, such as James Lipton’s Warden Gentiles and Carl Weathers, plus two of the Richter quintuplets in Andy and Rocky. It also introduces the adorable Isla Fisher as a recurring love interest for Michael, who only finds out her name at the end of the episode.
Not entirely plot-heavy, but also rather light on character, it’s very much a gag episode, designed to bring back the comedy that has been sorely lacking from the earlier episodes. That you can count the members of Bluth family who appear on one hand is interesting; up till now, we’ve often seen the others at one point or another, but here it’s really only Maeby and George that we catch.
With plenty of jokes at the expense of Imagine, including its lack of health benefits, there’s a danger early on that the episode will just crumble into a series of knowingly self-referential in-jokes, but once they bring in a vicious Kitty Sanchez and set Michael up in Orange County’s office, full of Spanish language film posters (Cinderella Man becomes Señor Princesa), it’s hard not to crack a smile.
Even bringing in Ron Howard as himself doesn’t harm things as much as it could; alongside his own narration, it’s a fun role for the man, who is half-sweet and half-ignorant of anyone who isn’t famous. Add to that a nice dig at Bruckheimer’s company logo and it feels like Arrested Development is slowly finding its way back into those deep waters it used to swim freely in, before a bow-tied seal of a network bit its hand off.
The B. Team is actually an A episode, reasonably well paced and frequently funny, while also bringing the real Michael back by surrounding him with enough nitwits to turn him into the straight man. It’s worth watching the entire episode just for the tag with Andy’s twin, Rocky, on Conan.
If this is the start of the writers finding their way back, we can only hope the series continues at this caliber.