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Arrested Development Season 4 E5 Review: The Long Overdue Return of Tobias Funke
In Episode 5 of Arrested Development’s 4th season, David Cross returns in all his brilliance as the lovable oaf Tobias Funke. For the umpteenth time in the show’s history, Tobias and Lindsay find themselves yet again questioning the integrity of their on-again, off-again marriage and splitting from each other in an effort to find true happiness for themselves. After reading the first 2/3 of the book Eat, Pray, Love, Tobias finds himself launching into a soul-searching trip to India, where his passion for being an actor is reignited after a mishap involving a bus and an incompetent medical team.
Once he returns state side, he and Lindsay reunite, and Tobias manages to convince her to take a method acting class with him in an effort to help bolster her skills and aid in an upcoming court testimony. But, much like the famed Analrapist title mishap of old, it’s his inability to read things correctly that leads him to a methadone clinic, thinking it’s a method one acting class.
During the acting class, Tobias is stricken with the confession of DeBrie Bardeaux, a one-time actress who’s fallen into the hands of drug addiction. Naturally, she’s the one that helps Tobias rediscover his dream of becoming an actor, and he once again leaves Lindsay and takes to the streets of Hollywood to pursue his desired fame. But of course, this comes with many mishaps and shenanigans that only the buffoonish doctor could manage to sink himself into.
Tobias is easily one of my favorite characters in the world of Arrested Development, simply because of the masterful way in which David Cross portrays his character. Charming and lovable, Tobias always means well in everything he does. But it’s his melodramatic tendencies and naivete that ultimately lead him into some of the most awkward and famed moments in the show’s history.
Episode 5 rarely missed a beat when it brought his character to the forefront, and David fit naturally into the story progression like a glove. Jokes were seamless, comedic timing was spot on, and while a few cameos snuck their way into the episode, they managed to do so without feeling awkwardly shoehorned in, including a nice showing of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew.
Furthermore, the overall narrative of the season is starting to come into focus in a much tighter way than it started. Things that occurred in the Lindsay-centric episode in #3 overlap with some of Tobias’, including the bus striking Tobias as he steps off the sidewalk in India and the phone call Lindsay makes to him on the airplane back from India.
But it’s the masterful dialogue delivered throughout the episode that once again sees Tobias speaking in his classically misleading way, such as when he introduces himself as Johnny Torch “The Human Flamer”, and calls for Maeby by citing himself as “Big Daddy” and wanting to show her “Daddy’s Thing”. This dialogue is central to Tobias’ character, as his awkward patterns of speech make for some of the most cringeworthy, yet hilarious moments in Arrested Development as a whole.
Overall, A New Start is easily the strongest of the season’s episodes thus far with its ability to remain true to Tobias’ character, all while introducing new elements and making for a successfully witty episode that finally feels like it belongs alongside some of the stronger episodes in the show’s history.
I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll get a reference to The Man Inside Me at some point soon.