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 5: “A New Start,” which brings us up to date on poor, deluded Tobias Fünke.
We begin in the midst of an elaborate surveillance situation, quickly revealed to be a sting for “To Entrap a Local Predator,” John Beard’s local riff on To Catch a Predator. “Yes, Tobias was finally about to get a starring role on a hit television show,” the narrator explains, before rolling back to reveal Tobias’s rather unfortunate activities in the interim.
As predicted, he too took a trip to India, simultaneous with Lindsay’s, thanks to “a book the universe had placed in his path.” Cross-references to Lindsay’s episode a-plenty—the proximity of their seats on the plane and the reveal of Tobias as the pedestrian hit by the bus, though (contrary to my prediction) not the shaman. When they return, we get the closest thing the series has yet provided to a full-cast scene (everyone appears present but George Michael and Maeby), but—as seen before—Tobias and Lindsay’s reconciliation is short-lived.
However, she wasn’t the only one to find a new love. After mistaking Debris (Maria Bamford) for an actress doing a monologue at the methadone clinic (he gives her notes, though is careful to explain, “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with the piece”), they decide that they’re soul mates, and must make a life together as actors—or, at least, street comic book characters.
The plot thread which leads them there is that Debris was in the first, no-budget film version of The Fantastic Four—a nice touch based on a real, terrible movie (albeit one produced not by Imagine, but by B-movie king Roger Corman). That’s a good obscure gag; the episode’s best background joke has to be the spinning sign guy at the real estate agent’s funeral (the line of mail trucks at the same cemetery is presumably for the funeral of Bluth mailman Pete).
“ANUSTART” and the “fallacy” song are turning into pretty good season-long running gags, while the explanation of where everyone was when they weren’t at Lucille’s trial is proving a useful touchstone event. The great Maria Bamford gives the episode a welcome shot of total weirdness, and David Cross is at his best—particularly his wild overacting in the hospital frequented by Hollywood big-shots. The idea of finally, explicitly explaining to Tobias that everyone thinks he’s gay is a little dubious; his cluelessness was part of that joke’s charm. But overall, this is a sturdy, solid, funny episode.
- The cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000—first iteration (with Joel and Trace)
- Ian Roberts as the Literal Doctor
- Jay Johnston and Jerry Minor as Officer Taylor and Officer Carter (look closely)
- “Apparently in this instance, paper beats rock.”
- Tobias’s Charlie Brown walk—in full Thing costume
- “I’m sorry, everyone thinks I’m gay?” “I mean, it’s kind of a running joke… in the family.”
- “What are you implying?” “Oh, I don’t think there was any implying at all.”
- “Throw oranges at it. Hot orange! Hot orange!”
- Of Debris’s Straight Bait films: “She did six of these movies. And after lunch, did three more.”
- “Did you see my Straight Bait movie of the same name?”
- “I assure you there’s nothing ambiguous about me. I’m Johnny Flamer!”