Arrested Development – Season 4, Episode 9 “Smashed” Review

Rating: 9.0

This episode went by surprisingly quickly, and it ran over with silliness. Maybe it’s Tobias’s own desperation and his reality-blindness that makes his episodes seem the most dire and insane. It’s also probably due to the addition of Debrie (Maria Bamford), his meth addict girlfriend, who you want to see get sober so badly. Every impediment Tobias unknowingly creates for her raises the stakes higher and higher. Mix in a penchant for musical theater and the threat of jail-time (for copyright reasons) and you have one very funny, very stressful episode.

I almost rated this Tobias episode slightly lower than the last, but I couldn’t think of a legitimate reason why I should. I think I was just hung up on how sad I felt for Tobias and Debrie rather than any real flaws in the episode itself. This is also my sneaking suspicion as to why other reviewers of this season have been a little harsh. Not only does the basic concept of this season require a few episodes to gain momentum, but the stories being told have matured in their severity. The comedy is in direct proportion with the tragedy, and I feel this most with the episodes surrounding my favorite blue Never-Nude.

The word play, the madcap gags, and the throwback jokes are all developing really nicely. I would say that the Tobias episodes really emphasize the madcap element, and one can always count on David Cross to deliver some fallings-over and some repartee devoid of wit. Even though I would not want him to be in charge of my Fantastic Four musical, I would kind of love for him to be my therapist. Through all of his deluded schemes sometimes an insightful piece of advice does pierce, and that is what keeps me rooting for him in some strange way. I can see that if he stopped pursuing being a straight actor, he could actually use his heartfelt need for approval for good.

I don’t see this hope for Michael, Lindsay, or GOB in the same way that I do for Tobias. I don’t even wish this happiness for them, really. The only other character for whom I feel the same is Debrie, and while watching this episode I tried very hard to see what it was that was setting Maria’s acting apart, in a very good way. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to just seeing her as Maria, Comedian of Comedy, but it seems like more than the element of surprise. I like to think that her performance struck a chord with me because it was simply very good. Her character is also sort of a rare type for Arrested Development. She is not hatching any schemes. She is just trying to be happy, and we can see on her face and in her body how difficult that is, but how hard she is trying. It is difficult to be happy, for everyone, and Debrie is my favorite character because she was at least willing to face the Mark Cherry music and try.

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