Your first alarm has gone off since being home for summer break, exactly 15 minutes before 3 a.m., because as the internet has been warning you for the past several months, “Arrested Development” came back for its fourth season Sunday on Netflix.
And, yeah, in hindsight, waking up at 3 a.m. when you went to bed at midnight might not have been the best idea for a focused Netflix binge, but we’ll be here doing a close watch, reviewing each episode, cataloging the best and worst of what we see.
Episode 1: “Flight of the Phoenix”
Number of “Charlie Brown” sad theme references: 1
Number of “Loose seal/Lucille” references: 1
“Workaholics” cast cameos: 4
Best one-liner: “You ever even been on a plane, you piece of shit?” Michael to P-Hound, George Michael’s college roommate
Just as the screen loads, I’m taking bets in my mind on what character makes the first appearance on screen. Right now my money’s on Jason Bateman’s Michael Bluth. I’m wrong: it’s Kristen Wiig as a young Lucille Bluth. And so the cameos begin.
Opposite Wiig is Seth Rogen as a young George Bluth, Sr. A young Lucille leers wide-eyed from her balcony with a green face mask, overlooking the pier below and tapping her fingers together in an homage to the Grinch, only this time, the character is reinventing Cinco de Mayo, not ruining Christmas. Lucille and George together craft “Cinco de Cuatro” in order to destroy the party supplies before the holiday that Lucille has such deep contempt for.
But the real focus of this episode is Michael Bluth; As creator Mitch Horowitz has said, each episode will focus on one main character and their story. We see Michael is apparently in debt to his mother’s nemesis, Lucille Austero, and it’s insinuated that he sleeps with her to pay this off. Then we have a flashback to how this all began.
Most of the episode is spent with Michael living in his son George Michael’s (Michael Cera) dorm room, with George Michael trying to softly and awkwardly find a way to kick him out. George Michael and his actual roommate, P-Hound, are currently working on an “anti-social network,” a perfect reference to the fact that Cera is often mistaken for Jesse Eisenberg, star of “The Social Network.”
The narrator addresses the six-year gap between seasons three and four by calling it “The Great Dark Period,” and the flashbacks are told using a pop-up timeline as a reference, which can become a little overwhelming. This first episode was a solid start, but definitely needs your keen attention so you can see the setups in future episodes.