Seasons one through three, the original Arrested Development series, were not produced by Netflix. It was not unwise for Netflix to reboot the series, for Arrested Development is formatted to be highly bingeable. A fourth season was remade by Netflix, and by all accounts was brutally awful. It spent several episodes catching reconciling the gap, or inactivity, of the characters for four or five years between season three and where season four begins. Still, I found myself watching season five, thinking that the worst was behind. The first half of season five was objectively mediocre. The show attempted to return to its unique style of humor but was too caught up in trying to employ Trump-humor in a pre-Trump world. And here the show runs into notable flaws.
Season five fails take into account time. What year is it? What month? The disappearance of Lucille 2, who is presumed dead, from the Cuatro de Mayo festival (May), cumulated into events at a 4th of July festival. This is where season 5.2 picks back up. And then out of nowhere it was nearly winter. Out of nowhere, the congressional election already happened, but Trump has not won yet? It featured an election that was not the 2016 election, so that means the 2014 election which would be a Congressional election, but the whole wall theme came after the show displayed Trump announcing his Presidential campaign in May/June 2015, which took place after Cuatro de Mayo, so I guess that whole plotline was absent-minded on time. Arrested Development has always been topical in its humor, the original series feeds off of the Iraqi War, for much of its plot and humor. The Netflix Arrested Development feeds on Trump, but cannot maintain a consistent chronology with events that took place in real life. Last sub-tangent on chronology: how was Tobias Funke a practicing therapist, licensed or not, in 1982? How old is he? Lindsey Bluth would have been about 18 (not that she would have known that).
For all these negatives, season 5.2 was closer to the original style of Arrested Development’s humor than anything Netflix has come out with. Season 5.2 featured a Bluth family trial, which I will grant a reprieve from criticism out of defference to Joe Pesci. Where the show had a (realistically) drawn out trial process in the original series, season 5.2 has a trial process proceed at My Cousin Vinny level of speed (hooray for 6th Amendment advocates) and have an A Few Good Men level climax.
It also reached deeper and darker levels towards the end. The show takes an “experimental” form of storytelling delving into the Bluth family childhood, in what seemed like the Bojack Horseman writers took over. But where that was hit or miss, Arrested Development knocked this out of the park. It was dark, insightful, and still comedic. This made 5.2 worth watching.
With all the characters, I do not want to get caught up in reviewing all of the story arcs. George Michael had very drawn out segments in his “Fakeblock” plotline. Maeby hardly had a plot. The GOB plotline was nothing new, though with less conflict with Michael. The Michael plotline was antithetical to normal hero tropes, a positive development. The George and Lucille dynamic, perhaps, stood out the most. Tobias remained a hard to stomach plotline.
With all that said, the ending was well crafted. You finally see some semblance of a functioning Bluth family. It does not appear Netflix will produce a season six. Outside of the flaw of chronology which trapped this season in the bad writing of the previous Netflix episodes, this back half was not terrible. But the terrible writing cannot be ignored. This back half of season five was Netflix’s best yet… mediocre.
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