I'm reviewing every episode of Arrested Development season 4 immediately after I see it for the first time -- so if you haven't seen the rest of the season yet, don't worry! You can check out my other episode reviews here.
Michael has always been the focus of Arrested Development, but it looks like that's going to be made disproportionately clear this season. The season's fourth episode provided us with our second Michael-centric outing -- though this one was much, much funnier than his previous centric episode.
Part of that was because Michael's desperation took the backseat this week; sure, he's still too proud to talk to his family (especially George Michael), but he's still got some optimism. And while that hope appears to be ill-fated, given the flash-forward at the beginning of the season, it's still much better than watching a completely desperate Michael. In fact, I might argue that "The B. Team" was the most fun episode so far -- though, of course, that's not all due to the focus on Michael.
"The B. Team" was the satisfying continuation of that cliffhanger with which we've been living for so long: "Maybe a movie." Michael's storyline this week focused on his efforts to make the Bluth movie a reality: after all, it's not like he's got much left to sell. Ron Howard, usually relegated to his duties as a narrator, reappeared as himself, the executive of Imagine Entertainment looking to turn the Bluths' story into a film (titled "21st Century Family," according to the script's title -- probably a dig at 20th Century Fox).
The episode spent some time making fun of the Hollywood system, with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer competing not only with the nearby Jerry Bruckheimer, but between themselves (was anyone else reminded of Being John Malkovich by the low ceilings?). The importance of the logos to their respective companies was pretty hilarious -- The Office's John Krasinski showed up for a hilarious cameo as a Bruckheimer employee who tells Warden Gentles, "I'm going to be honest with you: you're not charring my tree."
Speaking of Warden Gentles (James Lipton), there were plenty of gratifying reappearances from recurring charactes. Carl Weathers made his return -- still as cheap as always -- as did Kitty Sanchez (Judy Greer), who fixed up her frizzy hair but not her mental instability. They all became linked with Michael's attempt to make a movie -- Kitty as Ron Howard's new assistant (who Ron Howard's narrator insists he isn't having an affair with), with Carl, the Warden, and Andy Richter making up Michael's "dream team" of people for his film. He's too headstrong to realize that he's jumping the gun, but at least we got some absolutely hilarious sequences of this strange group of people walking together in slow motion (James Lipton with a backwards baseball cap is just a side-splitting image).
Actress Isla Fischer also made her appearance as Rebel, an aspiring actress with whom Michael becomes enamored and has a quick fling, only to realize that she's Ron Howard's mistress. Or, rather, he only thinks she's Ron Howard's mistress -- she's actually Ron Howard's daughter, which, as the narrator reminds us, is kind of worse. It was a hilarious ending to the season's most solid episode yet. It took it a moment, but Arrested Development is right on its way back to the level of comic euphoria that the first three seasons had.
On to "A New Start," but first, some quick thoughts:
-- Is Debrie dead? I can't say I'd be too shaken up by it, but it was hilarious to see Tobias greeting the hospital staff as he carried her in. He's only been hospitalized what, like 20 times on the series?
-- Again, we're left with a big Maeby-shaped question mark at the end of the episode. If she's not working at the studio, then where is she?
-- Conan's appearance was hilariously self-deprecating, but what was better was the reappearance of Rocky Richter, who ended the episode by insulting both Conan and Ron Howard right in the middle of Conan's late night show. His dig wasn't all that funny, but his facial expression throughout just made it.
-- Carl Weathers would make the final episode of Scandalmakers about himself -- and, naturally, he would cast Tobias as a cop. (A horrible cop.)
-- I'd watch a Barry Zuckercorn/Bob Loblaw buddy-lawyer show. Once again, Barry stole the episode (he's getting into the habit of doing that).
-- Also, am I the only one who thinks there's some George/Oscar identity-swapping hijinks going on around here? Or is George Sr. just beating Michael to the prostituting-himself-to-Lucille-Austero punch?