TV Reviews

Arrested Development Season 5 Part 2 Early Review

Netflix continues its habit of chopping season’s longer than 10 episodes into two halves. Will this time be more successful? (Check out our review of the first half here.)

Warning: Mild Spoilers Below for Arrested Development Season 5 (Part 2)

The main story of Arrested Development season five revolves around the ongoing mystery surrounding Lucille 2’s disappearance. With tensions mounting, the police arrest Buster and put him on trial for murder. Meanwhile, the Bluth company is reminded of their obligation for a border wall which puts them in debt and jeopardizes exposing the fake anti-social software Fakeblock. The gay mafia gets involved as their interests start to clash with those of the Bluths. And Tobias tries to find a new home for his oddball family.

It’s difficult to review a split-season show because typically it’s a continuation of the same storylines, style, visuals and themes. That’s like reviewing every cable show at their winter finale. It makes little sense. So why is Netflix so keen on dividing its shows into halves? It’s all about award considerations. After Breaking Bad managed to snag nominations for seasons 5A and 5B, networks have decided that final seasons should do the same. This is to hopefully win the votes of some nostalgic fans.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case here. Arrested Development may be slightly improved since Netflix first bought it, but it’s still fallen off from the great sitcom it once was. In 5B, the storylines and characters just seem to be doing a routine now. They are stuck in a loop of mishaps and mayhem. Luckily the actors are more available for them to actually be present for more interactions, but that isn’t enough.

The problems with this season stem from a variety of sources. First, is the style of this show. Arrested Development was lauded for its unique style and deadpan humour. However, since its revival this has gotten to be one of its weakest aspects. The plot is extremely exposition-heavy with narration that recaps every few moments. The rapid-fire jokes cut over the narration or vice versa making it a chore to follow. And the visuals look like last-minute additions created in an introductory photoshop class.

Beyond the style, there are still many other issues. With the disappearances of Lindsay and Lucille 2, and the sidelining of Lucille and Maeby, the show has become male-dominated. This forces us to watch some characters who were only tolerable due to their female counterparts. Tobias, George and Oscar all become tiresome when they are forced to become a more prominent character. It goes to show that in the Bluth family, the women run the show.

Well that is except for Michael. He is supposed to be the show’s main protagonist, but he ends up being sidelined for most of the past two seasons. He is the straight man character that is supposed to comment on this absurd family. Instead, he embraces the absurdities whenever he can and slowly loses the key aspect that set him apart from them.

Thankfully, there are a few bright spots to this second half of the season. Hurwitz is able to write some great genre jokes parodying legal dramas and murder mysteries. These tangent jokes tend to land more than the actual plot-driven ones. The actors have more to work with by being able to act alongside their co-stars. Many of the characters even get somewhat satisfying conclusions to their ongoing story arcs. There’s even a fitting series finale moment should they decide to end the Bluth story.

This season of Arrested Development is pretty much just more of the same. While there are a few chuckles throughout and the actors finally share some scenes together, the cyclical storyline has become stale with its self-imploding style and tiresome characters. Thankfully through it all, they manage to find a way to put a fitting end to this family’s chaotic story. From its overdone stylistic choices to its mundane, repetitive humour, this season mercifully puts the Bluths out of their misery so I’m going to say it’s not worth the watch.

Score: 4.5/10

Arrested Development Season 5 (Part 2) is available on March 15.

What did you think of the fifth season of Arrested Development? Let me know in the comments!

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