Arrested Development – Season 4, Episode 4 “The B. Team” Review

Rating:  8.5

With another Michael episode comes more tragic decisions and desperate attempts…and it’s pretty funny. Most notably Ron Howard actually appears in his human form in addition to his normal voice-over one. Though Ron’s acting always leaves something to be desired from this particular reviewer, I did enjoy the in-joke as well as the consistent jabs at Bruckheimer. With the new Hollywood setting comes some great humor and guest appearances, but also with that beacon of superficiality comes a certain contrivance. This story, while not inconsistent with what we know about Michael and his issues, seems a little fantastical, and therefore harder to identify with.

It’s still engaging, and the writing is still as clever as ever. I suppose Michael being a movie producer is not any more far-fetched than his father making business deals with Saddam Hussein. There was just something a little fake about all of the happenstance-y moments. I realize that within that the writers were definitely commenting on the artificiality of Hollywood and its products, but I can’t get away from the general feeling of this episode being a little off.

With that being said, Michael is still looking pretty pathetic, and I genuinely prefer this vision of his character. I have heard various complaints that Michael is supposed to be “the sane one”, and the way he is portrayed in newer episodes is strange and sad. To the latter I say “Yes, in a good way”, but never will I admit that Michael has ever been the “sane one” in his family. If anything, he might be the most unstable simply because he consistently expects change from people he knows will not, and he wants to smother his son until the end of both of their lives. He lies compulsively, and is often the key manipulator in any given conflict.

His intentions are sometimes genuine, however, and he is able to sometimes cut through the ridiculousness of his life with some insight. This tendency is what makes the setting of movie stars and casting couches so appropriate for him and his (somewhat) development. The way Michael operates is totally rewarded in this sort of world, and he can utilize his family-honed skill of salesmanship and his never-ending desire to please.

This is all laid out really well in this episode, and the cinematic fantasyland highlights Michael’s tendency towards delusion with chuckle-worthy fittingness. Even though sometimes the show’s direction on a macro level is a little weird to me, the small jokes that fill each episode are still great. In this episode in particular there was plenty to laugh at minute-by-minute, and it went by pretty quickly. I actually didn’t want this one to end when it did, and I feel like things are just starting to get really good.

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