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Arrested Development

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“Season four’s masterstroke – the element that welds the show’s extreme self-consciousness and (yes!) cornball sincerity — is its decision to build our fears and anxieties about a resurrected Arrested Development right into the master narrative…It’s all about elapsed time and lost opportunities, and how families grow apart geographically and emotionally, and make peace with their personal limitations (and their families’), or continue to live in denial, or force some kind of confrontation, or stumble into one, and end up taking baby-duckling steps toward enlightenment. That’s why so many people have described it as sad, or dark, or depressing: It has a heart, but you can see how bruised it is.”

At Vulture, Matt Zoller Seitz sings the praises of Netflix’s Arrested Development revival. “Like The Godfather, Part II…season four of AD manages to be true to the spirit of the original while tinkering with its structure, rhythm, and themes. It’s very different from yet artistically equal to the show’s first three seasons.”

Having watched Season 3 (again) and Season 4 this past week, I’m much closer to Seitz’s awed appreciation of the Bluths’ return than, say Alan Sepinwall’s more disgruntled view. Although admittedly it takes an episode or three to vibe into what Hurwitz et al are doing, take away the rosy retrospection and Season 4 seems very much on a par with the first few seasons. I for one was increasingly impressed, and amused, by the recursive, Mobius strip intricacy of the whole proceedings, and, as you might expect, there are a lot of very funny lines throughout. (“Handcuff the King of the Jews!”) Also, since it’s already supercutted, the Sound of Silence bit made me laugh every time.

Now about those cliffhangers…don’t leave us with a Black Lodge situation, Netflix — do the right thing. You know there’s more money in the banana stand.

Update: “We couldn’t get Franklin. He was touring. He’s very big in Japan. He has a vodka ad that put him over the top.” Vulture post-mortems Season 4 with Mitch Hurwitz.

The Final Countdown.

Her? As you’ve likely already seen by now, the Arrested Development Season 4 Trailer has hit the Interweb, and Vulture has gone over it with a fine-toothed comb. Also, here’s a good site to bone up on the first three seasons’ in-jokes. Steve Holt!

There’s No I in Teamocil…

“I’m a HUGE fan of Arrested Development. Once I heard that each episode in the new season was going to focus on a different character, I thought it would be fun to create a series of art doing the same.” In anticipation of Season 4, artist Josh Cox creates a series of Arrested Development throwback album covers. I probably would’ve more explicitly riffed off this for the above one.

The High Cost of Deficit Hysteria.

“Greater risk of wildfires, fewer OSHA inspections and a risk of more workplace deaths, 125,000 people risking homelessness with cuts to shelters and housing vouchers, neglect for mentally ill and homeless Americans who would lose services, Native Americans getting turned away from hospitals, cuts to schools on reservations and prison lockdowns. There’s also a higher risk of terrorism with surveillance limited and the FBI potentially unable to disrupt plots, closed housing projects, and 600,000 women and children thrown off WIC. In short: Unless a budget deal is cut, the country will be in deep trouble.”

It’s not just pandas and sea lions: Chris Good of ABC News lists fifty-seven terrible consequences America can expect from the looming sequestration, the deep automatic cuts resulting from the August 2011 debt ceiling deal that — unless action is taken — are set to go into effect on March 1st. Among the probable damage: 700,000 jobs lost. “With the House in recess and with Obama playing golf [with oilmen] over the weekend, a deal does not appear imminent.”

There’s a lot of back-and-forth going on in Washington right now about whose fault these lousy sequesters are. Clearly, the GOP loved the idea back when, and they’re the ones preventing any action on averting the cuts now. So make no mistake — if these deep and indiscriminate cuts go into effect, it’ll be because the GOP wants them. It’s the same reason they hold up disaster relief constantly, and are currently holding the US Postal Service hostage — Because they seem to get an ideological kick out of seeing Big Guvmint fail at its basic responsibilities.

That being said, let’s remember: The president handed House Republicans a loaded gun. It takes a very short-term view of things to forget how, throughout 2010, 2011, and 2012, President Obama actively fomented the deficit witchhunt, and continued to promote both Simpson-Bowles and a deadly Grand Bargain even as it became patently obvious that investment, spending, and economic growth should be the order of the day. (By the way: Not in the Simpson-Bowles package of deficit-defeating awesomeness? The corporate tax loophole that just made Erskine Bowles $114,000.)

In short, this lousy sequester is the GOP’s baby, yes. But it’s also the ultimate consequence of both parties trafficking in unresponsible hysteria over a phantom problem for years one end. Now the chickens have come home to roost, and our fragile economic recovery, weakened by several years without any serious stimulus, faces a real crisis. Let’s be clear: This crisis was not caused by the illusory danger of deficits, but because Republicans and the administration both, when the chips were down in August 2011, elided over basic economic sense and instead embraced the nonsense of austerity.

Update: The Story of the Sequester in GIF form, via AFSCME, and Sequestered Development, a not particularly inspired mash-up of Arrested Development and recent events.

Lucille Begins.

“Let’s go ahead and imagine the possibilities: Lucille during her Stuckey’s waitressing days! Facing off against young Lucille Austero! Performing the uncomfortable wink for the first time!” And let’s not forget the chicken dance. Kristen Wiig joins the Arrested Development reboot as young Lucille Bluth.

Caged Wisdom, Meet Sterling’s Gold.

There’s always money in the banana stand and Roger Sterling’s billfold: John Slattery joins Arrested Development Season 4. (I blame all the acid.)

Still Money in the Banana Stand.

It’s true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ’13. VERY excited!” Never mind Harold Camping getting it wrongagain: The biggest news of October 2011, as everyone knows, was official word that Arrested Development is returning for 10 episodes and a movie, due out in 2013. Apparently, Michael Cera finally needed some quick cash. (I kid, I kid. Says show creator Mitch Hurwitz: “‘I thought it would be funny [to put that out there]… but it really turned ugly. For those of you have been following this saga, Michael’s been great and he’s always been game.“)

Hand of the King, Beware the Loose Seal.

I’ve been remiss here in posting anything here about HBO’s Game of Thrones, which I’ve been greatly enjoying over the past few months. (AMC’s The Killingless so. What a disaster that turned out to be.) So to remedy that, here’s Arrested Westeros, i.e. what happens you add House Bluth to the Lannister-Stark-Baratheon-Targaryen mix. I particularly like the one above and this one, and you can’t go wrong with any variation of “I’ve made a huge mistake.

In related Game of Thrones fun, see also: Stupid Ned Stark and One and a Half Man, the buddy-movie version of the story. As an aside, I think I’m going to continue into Season 2 without reading the books (or without reading past the first book, at any rate.) As someone who’s usually entering into these sorts of genre properties with full knowledge of the backstory and reams of preconceived expectations, it feels mighty strange to be on the other side of the fanboy/general audience divide for once, and I think I kinda like it.

Funke Town | Coenology 101.

Mrs. Peacock with the Cornballer in Wee Britain…By way of Web Goddess, Pleated Jeans has assembled the Arrested Development version of Clue, “complete with box art, game board, suspect cards and weapon cards.” And, once that fails to entertain, Muller has fashioned a handy and informative Coenfographic to trace exactly who’s shown up where in the Coenverse over the years. Even more illuminating than the Goy’s Teeth!

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