I'm afraid I just Pepsi blue myself.
May 18, 2017 4:18 AM   Subscribe

 
“No touching!”
posted by Fizz at 4:34 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


Once upon a time, in 1974, when storied institutions such as the American Presidency were crumbling about their ears, the American people would turn to wholesome family TV dramas like The Waltons and Little House On The Prairie to restore some sanity to their lives. The relative normalcy of the lives portrayed on the small screen gave them hope - hope that, one day, their lives could return to the kind of calm idyll imbued within, and they could forget all the craziness and turmoil occurring in and around the Oval Office.

Today, that show is Arrested Development, Season Five.
posted by kcds at 4:46 AM on May 18 [14 favorites]


Well, at least this time everyone won't have magically aged 10 years overnight.
posted by rokusan at 4:48 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I hope they get everyone in the same room this time. The lack of that was what really killed season 4 for me.
posted by kersplunk at 5:01 AM on May 18 [22 favorites]


Today, that show is Arrested Development, Season Five.

I hate to be Barry Buzzkill here, but given the general arc of the last two years, in which pretty much everything we thought we could count on was smeared with blueberry baby poo and lit on fire, I worry that you are setting yourself up for a crushing disappointment on this one.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:05 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Season 4 was a formal experiment not done quite right. It had its moments, sure, but it did crawl too far up its own ass, i guess. WaPo's comment on season 4 that it was the Ulysses of sitcoms reminded me of how some reviewer explained the conclusion of How I Met Your Mother as it was a show, in the end, about nothing, and compared it to Flaubert who also tried to write about nothing. HIMYM ended with a formal experiment as well, as far as I can remember. I wonder, though, do sitcoms with an established formula need these experiments. Or why do they need them? Maybe only to reassure the viewers of its continuing necessity and relevance when they've already run out of steam. And only then they get to be compared to literary classics.

(Here's hoping for a great fifth, though; I did very much enjoy the first three.)
posted by sapagan at 5:08 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


given the general arc of the last two years... I worry that you are setting yourself up for a crushing disappointment on this one.

You shut your whore mouth about Twin Peaks! It will be glorious!
posted by rokusan at 5:21 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I'm sure this will be a productive thread, free of needless quotes for their own sake.

Ron Howard voice: "It wasn't."
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:22 AM on May 18 [55 favorites]


HIMYM ended with a formal experiment as well, as far as I can remember.
What does "formal experiment" mean in this context?
posted by metaBugs at 5:28 AM on May 18


What does "formal experiment" mean in this context?

Perhaps a narrative experiment, then: extend a weekend across a whole season, cram the past and future lives of the characters (especially The Mother) into a single weekend. The final season played with and changed the narrative form of the show, was my meaning.
posted by sapagan at 5:33 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I'm sympathetic to season 4. They didn't have a whole lot of ways to deal with ten years of back story, and they picked the thing that worked best for what they wanted to do and went all in on it.

And hopefully now season 5 will be...not that.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:36 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


Fool me once.
posted by bigendian at 5:43 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


I thought season four was great. Never having the cast together is very off putting, but the last couple of episodes are fantastic.
posted by miguelcervantes at 5:45 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


It just keeps coming back. Like some kind of boomerang.
posted by postcommunism at 6:01 AM on May 18


I know it's a shame when shows end before they should but bringing them back just seems like it's always a mistake. This is why everyone needs to shut up about Firefly.
posted by bondcliff at 6:14 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


I worry that Arrested Development is a bit behind the Zeitgeist but then I look at the current White House and go nah seems like it's merely prescient.
posted by vuron at 6:16 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


This is why everyone needs to shut up about Firefly.

That's only the second reason. The most important reason is that there's zero chance that episode 1 of the new season would show Jayne being eaten by Reavers, and the fans wouldn't accept a Firefly in which that didn't happen.

(My own theory about why there wasn't a bigger push for a relaunch there was that nobody wanted to work with Baldwin ever again. My evidence for this is that the rest of the cast all seem like fairly nice and emotionally healthy people.)
posted by middleclasstool at 6:30 AM on May 18


I worry that Arrested Development is a bit behind the Zeitgeist but then I look at the current White House and go nah seems like it's merely prescient.

It is strange that something that was originally written as a glancingly satirical piss-take on the Bush II years has matured over time into a much stronger lampoon of the entire 40-year Trump phenomenon. When we got the campaign infomercial with Trump showing off his fake-as-hell Trump Steaks and Trump Magazine and Trump Water, it was everything I could do to not think of the Bluth Cornballer.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:36 AM on May 18 [9 favorites]


Yeah, a Firefly reboot is definitely very much dead in the water, but I've always been amazed that Netflix hasn't run a show with a different cast in the same world, or a prequel about Mal and Zoey in the war, or something similar. It's gotta be like the first thing that every single Netflix intern pitches.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:37 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


It's a season of a tv show Michael, what could it cost, $10 billion?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:45 AM on May 18 [17 favorites]


I'm sympathetic to season 4. They didn't have a whole lot of ways to deal with ten years of back story, and they picked the thing that worked best for what they wanted to do and went all in on it.

And hopefully now season 5 will be...not that.


I think the biggest problem with Season 4 is that the writers and producers allowed the new format (streaming, so no need for ad-breaks / strict run-times) to let them think that the show didn't need to be quite as tightly scripted and edited. Most of the scripts are a draft or two from being fully polished (how many times does Ron Howard start a line with, "Perhaps..."?) and all the episodes run long.

I'm convinced that you could take the raw material of season 4, edit it down to thirteen 23-minute episodes, and have them stand aside the first three seasons as equally funny.
posted by thecaddy at 6:53 AM on May 18 [10 favorites]


I just painted myself blue in anticipation.
(Am I doing this right? No? I made a very large mistake.)
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:58 AM on May 18 [11 favorites]


I just painted myself blue myself in anticipation.

FTFY
posted by furnace.heart at 7:03 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Jesus. I just got the joke. There should be a pre-coffee lockout on commenting. Like a breathalyzer that detects caffeine. Move along! Nothing to see here!
posted by furnace.heart at 7:05 AM on May 18 [6 favorites]


OK NOW BRING BACK TERRIERS
posted by latkes at 7:10 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


Nothing to see here!

Ron Howard voice: There was.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:21 AM on May 18 [8 favorites]


All I care about is if Portia de Rossi's haircut from the last season is also coming back. All I could focus on was how cute it looked.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:43 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


(My own theory about why there wasn't a bigger push for a relaunch there was that nobody wanted to work with Baldwin ever again. My evidence for this is that the rest of the cast all seem like fairly nice and emotionally healthy people.)

The first season of Con Man addresses this, with hilarity.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:00 AM on May 18


I'm convinced that you could take the raw material of season 4, edit it down to thirteen 23-minute episodes, and have them stand aside the first three seasons as equally funny.

Supposedly Mitch Hurwitz has done this! He said he edited them all down to TV length in case they ever get syndicated. He says that the edits are good and he hopes people are allowed to see them one day.
posted by little onion at 8:05 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


I liked season 4 a lot, and thought the form change was actually pretty cool. The downside is that there are dozens of jokes that are incomprehensible until your second viewing, because they're layered within the separate storylines. I'm happy that it's going to be more traditional this time around, but season 4 is an amazing act of comedy writing IMO.
posted by codacorolla at 8:09 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Season 4 was a formal experiment not done quite right.

Seasons 1-3 of Arrested Development had a very tight episode structure: Three or four characters would each have a plot arc that developed over about five beats, interacted with and commented on the others, and then they would all come together and conclude. That last part is actually pretty unique to AD: The plot arcs came together, not via a metaphor or thematic alignment, but in an actual, everyone’s in the same room, plot way. This is way harder to write than having a character from the concluded B-story tell a character from the A-story a lesson that they can use to resolve their plot. (And having so many plot arcs and so much interaction meant that the omniscient narration was pretty much necessary.)

Season 4 had budgetary limitations that made this structure impossible. All of the actors got famous from seasons 1-3 and got more expensive, and the way the contracts worked, they had to pay the actors per episode they appeared in. And so a trick to make it cost much less was to give the main characters their own episodes and have only a fraction of the main cast in each one. Jason Bateman volunteered to take a pay cut and appear in every episode to make the show possible.

As people have pointed out, this took away the full cast interactions that were so great. Everyone together at the Bluth house, judging Buster, planning to kidnap Rita, forgetting about Michael. Those scenes, where all of the most developed characters are available for a punchline, were a great bedrock to the show.

But, it also took away AD’s ability to use the episode structure they had always done so well. Suddenly, you didn’t have to write four five-minute stories that bounced off of each other and then came back together to resolve, you had to write one thirty minute story all about one character. That is a very different order. Their high concept was to have the stories bounce off of each other at an between-episodes level rather than an within-episode level. Have little references in Episode 2 that you couldn’t unravel until you saw their origin in Episode 7. But the reason those interactions worked in Seasons 1-3 is that the events they referred to were still loaded up in your brain because they happened two minutes ago, not five episodes ago. To me, that was the biggest limitation Season 4 faced. You didn’t get as much opportunity for interaction and repetition of jokes within an episode, and so the jokes weren’t as fast or hot, the episodes felt looser and less meaningful, and the conclusions were less cathartic.

So Season 4 didn’t feel like the Arrested Development we knew, because it wasn’t. It had the same characters and the same witty writers, but it didn’t have the structure that allowed those things to shine and satisfy. There were episodes that I loved and a lot of great jokes, but I don't like watching it as much as the old stuff. Anyways, I hope they steer Season 5 back towards the old way, or find something new that works better.
posted by little onion at 8:48 AM on May 18 [25 favorites]


I kinda forced myself to get through season 4 after the first few episodes were meh, and then (for reasons that I can't quite explain) I kind of forced myself to rewatch the whole thing . . . a couple of times. It's actually really ambitious and hilarious, but I have zero idea how they expected some of the jokes to land when there's basically no context to them until you rewatch. Seasons 1-3 are so good that you want to rewatch them, season 4 is so... peculiar, that it's no good until you rewatch.

So I'm happy they're doing a 5th.
posted by skewed at 8:51 AM on May 18


All of the actors got famous from seasons 1-3 and got more expensive, and the way the contracts worked, they had to pay the actors per episode they appeared in.

Well, they seem to mostly have gotten over that, so hopefully they can afford to have them all together again.
posted by skewed at 8:53 AM on May 18


I still use "There's always money in the banana stand!" as a life lesson in my personal life. Always needing to be looking underneath the underneath (woops, that's another reference...).
posted by yueliang at 10:21 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Some people are chicken about what season 5 will bring. Co-ka-co-ka-co!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:33 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


So Season 4 didn’t feel like the Arrested Development we knew, because it wasn’t. It had the same characters and the same witty writers, but it didn’t have the structure that allowed those things to shine and satisfy. There were episodes that I loved and a lot of great jokes, but I don't like watching it as much as the old stuff. Anyways, I hope they steer Season 5 back towards the old way, or find something new that works better.

This (the whole comment) is as close to a perfect critique of the 4th season as I can imagine.
posted by clockzero at 12:20 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I hate to be Barry Buzzkill here, but

Narrator: He didn't.

but given the general arc of the last two years, in which pretty much everything we thought we could count on was smeared with blueberry baby poo and lit on fire

Narrator: It wasn't.

I worry that you are setting yourself up for a crushing disappointment on this one.

Narrator: "Buzzkill" was not a family name.
posted by clockzero at 12:32 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


With the return/recycling of X-Files, Full(er) House, Will & Grace, Roseanne(!?!), and of course, Twin Peaks, there was no way Arrested Development would be left to decay gracefully. Can we officially call this a Trend now?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:45 PM on May 18


> With the return/recycling of X-Files, Full(er) House, Will & Grace, Roseanne(!?!), and of course, Twin Peaks, there was no way Arrested Development would be left to decay gracefully. Can we officially call this a Trend now?

Yes. Because networks (X Files' Fox, Will & Grace's NBC, Roseanne's ABC, the new Star Trek's CBS) have an economic model that depends on wide swaths of the population tuning in, so they're bringing back shows from the days when you and your mom and your dad and your aunts and uncles and grandparents all watched the same shows.

And subscription services, like Netflix and Showtime, want FOMO TV, that makes you feel like you have to subscribe because everyone's going to be talking about the new Twin Peaks and the new Arrested Development, even if they're crap.
posted by smelendez at 1:42 PM on May 18


With the return/recycling of X-Files, Full(er) House, Will & Grace, Roseanne(!?!), and of course, Twin Peaks, there was no way Arrested Development would be left to decay gracefully. Can we officially call this a Trend now?

I... what? Twin Peaks ended on a 25 year cliff hanger, and both Lynch and Frost have repeatedly stated their desire to finish the story. Arrested Development was canceled and the staff had to rush to write an ending for it. In addition previous season LITERALLY ended with an apparent unanswered who-dunnit murder mystery.

The X-Files reboot was bad. I'll give you that one.
posted by codacorolla at 7:06 PM on May 18


I've been meaning to watch Arrested Development for years (haven't seen a single episode). Now I finally have a reason, i.e., so I can come back to this thread and get all the jokes.
posted by she's not there at 11:07 PM on May 18


I hope they get everyone in the same room this time.

Lucille too?
posted by quinndexter at 11:13 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I hope they don't release all the episodes at once this time. For me, the unintended consequence was that it made it difficult to share the show with other fans, because after the first couple of episodes people ended up on different viewing schedules, and that diffused the excitement. I remember the thread (pre-FanFare) starting off with energy and petering out. If the episodes are released weekly, then people have the chance to focus on that episode and share it with everyone at the same time.

Like probably everyone else here, I could recite seasons 1-3 line for line, from memory, because I've seen it so many times. But I only watched season four one time. I had time and really binged on it, and by the time everyone else had caught up I'd moved on. On the other hand, if you're behind everyone, it's not much fun to run into a forum thread to say "I don't care for GOB." and get crickets because everyone has moved on to the next episode or show."

The show took a decade 1-3 to become embedded in the zeitgeist, so in retrospect I think it was u realistic to expect that momentum compressed into one season, especially if everyone isn't on board with a viewing schedule.

I'll probably need to do a re-watch of S4 to get back up to speed.

I've been saving the new season of Angie Tribeca to binge and I expect few people will be around to talk about the jokes.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:35 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Narrator: It obviously wasn't Lucille 2.
posted by quinndexter at 9:34 AM on May 20


It seemed like being a fan of AD when it originally aired was mostly saying "Yeah, I like it too! So cool that it doesn't have a laugh track. Yeah. Funny. It'll probably get canceled soon."

I think the show found a second audience when it became available to stream. It rewards binge-watching, coupled with the social-media fandom feedback loop.
posted by Cranialtorque at 2:34 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I hope they don't release all the episodes at once this time.

I think all Netflix shows get released all at once.
posted by cell divide at 10:01 PM on May 23


I think part of the reason AD didn't find its audience in its initial run was that the level of rewriting, the layering of jokes, and the sheer amount of callbacks and running gags was designed for binge watching before binge watching was a thing. It would be an entirely different experience spaced out week to week.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:12 AM on May 24


With the return/recycling of X-Files, Full(er) House, Will & Grace, Roseanne(!?!), and of course, Twin Peaks, there was no way Arrested Development would be left to decay gracefully. Can we officially call this a Trend now?
posted by oneswellfoop


i heard they're even thinking of bringing back the simpsons
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:08 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


yeah it's called bobs burgers
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:57 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


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