Now the story of a great television show that got cancelled and the diehard viewers who had no choice but to keep yelling and screaming until Netflix brought it back for another season, seven years later. It’s the Arrested Development Season Four Recap-A-Thon, Episode 4: “The B. Team,” which finds Michael entering the lucrative business of moving-picture production.
Michael’s second episode is a direct follow-up to the third season’s final moments, in which Ron Howard is pitched Arrested Development as a TV show and proclaims that it seems more like movie material. That iteration of the project stalled under Maeby (good gag: the script being moved from “Active Development” to “Not Going Forward Development”); here, Barry calls Michael to tell him that Howard (“he’s directing now, apparently”) wants his involvement in developing the film.
“You guys finally making that movie?” Michael asks, the show’s juiciest meta-joke to date. “I’ve been reading about it for like forty years!” Howard has apparently been inspired to return to the project after seeing Michael’s prayer-hands photo in the in-flight magazine. “Most of my movies are based on still photos that I find inspiring,” he explains. The inspiration will apparently be loose; Howard wants to shift the timeline of the financial-bubble-bursting story to include the death of Michael’s wife, as a role for “his girl” (his daughter, but Michael thinks he means his mistress). It’s an idea that Michael’s not wild about—until he meets a beautiful actress (Isla Fisher) who he wants very badly to believe he’s a producer and not the guy driving the Google Street View car.
“The B. Team” is penned by Hurwitz & Jim Vallely, the second script of the new season for each, and it feels like the show is getting back up to speed—the jokes pop, the background gags (like the standee for Peter Scolari’s Spanish-language movie) and inside jokes (Lucille’s closet containing “Bob Mackie originals,” y’know, like Liza Minelli used to wear) are rich, and the almost-pathos (in George Sr. and Michael’s “told you so” scene) land gingerly. All of the Hollywood producer talk is a little inside-baseball, sure, but the gags pay off (the Bruckheimer references tee up a well- executed Armageddon-style slo-mo walking shot)—and besides, it’s pretty safe to assume that the audience, which has been following trade talk and industry rumors of Arrested Development reunions for all this time, is fairly plugged in to that scene anyway.
Also, does this mean a multi-episode Isla Fisher arc? What God have I pleased?
- Ron Howard, still referred to in the third person by the narrator
- His partner Brian Grazer (“I’m gonna skip this one”)
- Isla Fisher, totally charming (“Make her mentally challenged, and I’ll thank you in my Oscar speech!”)
- John Krasinski, as a Bruckheimer exec getting a pitch from Warden Gentles (“Jerry’s not gonna come off the boat for this one”)
- Conan O’Brien, gamely playing himself as a sexually harassing jerk
- Bob Lablaw (with a Chachi reference, even)
- Kitty Sanchez, now a “D-girl” at Imagine
- Carl Weathers, swiping Grinch dolls from Michael’s office at Imagine
- Andy Richter (and his identical quintuplet brother Rocky)
- Warden Gentles
- A wink—from Kitty. When Lucille finally does one, it’s gonna be a big reveal
- “It’s about the whole family.” “Them?”
- That “horribly narrated” episode of Scandal Makers
- “It you want to know that the company is, all you have to do is something it.”
- “I think it’s a lot more fun if we see her die.” “That is fun.”
- “I don’t see any reason why we can’t make him seem very, very… uh… (long pause) Nice?”
- “We make family movies, you (series of bleeps)”
- “Are you really planning on using her, or is it like Conan and the girl writers?”
- “It’s Mexican porn.” “You know, you are impossible to buy for.”
- “I didn’t know it was about lying to a girl! Gimme the release.”
- “Actually she’s his daughter. But that’s kind of worse, don’t you think?”