Arrested Development Season 4 Ep4 Review: Back on Track…For the Most Part

I said in my original review for the first episode of Arrested Development Season 4 that I was really hopeful the show would find its way again after the stumble it went through in the beginning. Thankfully, after three episodes of missteps and awkward developments, I’m satisfied in saying that Season 4 is back on track. For the most part, anyway.

Titled “The B Team,” Episode 4 sees Michael return to the same charismatic and passionate person that has made him the character fans know and love, thankfully eclipsing the pathetic version of Michael Bluth we got a taste of in the beginning of the season.

Ron Howard makes an appearance in the episode, playing the role of a film executive interested in telling Michael’s story after seeing the mournful image of him in a feature for an airline magazine. Of course, there’s a catch: in order to tell the story, Howard needs to get full legal clearance by getting the rights to portray the events of the Bluth family with their signing off on the project. But with a reluctant George Sr., Michael finds it more difficult than he thought to bring the project to fruition.

And so, he sets out to assemble a team of film experts in order to give Ron Howard some confidence in the project. But, since Michael’s  exposure to the film world is limited, we’re treated to seeing the return of several notable tertiary characters from previous seasons of Arrested Development, including the screenwriting Warden and the infamous actor Carl Weathers.

It’s while Michael’s assembling his dream team that he runs into a stunning actress whose name he fails to learn until after a little rendezvous the two have in a photo booth in LA. And of course, in classic Michael Bluth style, he learns that the girl he’s interested in is perhaps someone he really shouldn’t be when he figures that she’s Ron Howard’s girlfriend. Although thanks to some great use of double entendre, Michael is actually mistaken to believe this, as she’s actually Ron Howard’s daughter. And like Ron himself says during the narration, this somehow makes things worse.

On top of that, he learns that the signatures he needs in order to secure the rights of the episode itself are actually the ones of himself and his son, which puts a much larger problem to him as he tries to rationalize sacrificing his son’s privacy in order to get the job as a Hollywood producer. It’s just the type of moral dilemma we’ve seen in Arrested Development before, and its implementation in the story is excellent.

All in all, while it still doesn’t have quite the charm and cohesive storytelling as before, Episode 4 finally feels like an Arrested Development episode. Great use of double entendre, working classic story elements into the plot, and even the dialogue and character mannerisms all fit together brilliantly to make an episode that feels ripped straight from the show’s previous seasons. They even managed to fit in a spot for George Sr.’s mischievous former secretary Kitty Sanchez in the story line again, complete with all of Kitty’s classic quirks and a reference to her tendency to use dramatic moments as excuses to flash people around her.

Really, the only complaint I could level at the episode is its somewhat flat delivery and overt use of cameos throughout. The jokes and references fit in well, but they don’t manage to do anything we haven’t seen before. And while classic Arrested Development episodes of old used celebrity cameos to play the role of secondary and even extra characters, this season seems to go about it in a much more gimmicky way. Conan O’Brian and John Krasinski were two of the cameos in the episode that felt more like “hey look at us! Remember us from TV?” moments than organic appearances. Maybe it’s a petty criticism to level, but it still felt a bit disjointed to my taste.

Still, I’m glad to see the show back on track again. It’s been far too long.