‘Arrested Development’ Season Four Recap-A-Thon, Episode 9: “Smashed”

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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 9: “Smashed,” which finds Tobias trying (and failing) to put on a show.

When we last saw Tobias in “A New Start,” he was being arrested on “To Entrap a Local Predator,” so when he arrives at Lucille Austero’s rehabilitation clinic Austerity, the cops who accompany them have to wait for him to announce his sexual predator status before they depart. The necessity of disclosing this bit of information becomes the most reliable of go-to gags in the fourth season’s second Tobias-centered episode, where his new job as a therapist quickly transforms into an opportunity to direct a show—starring his old flame Debris in her signature (?) role of Sue Storm.

So the episode gives us copious amounts of Tobias-the-performer, one of the show’s richest comic motifs (his “reel” is a highlight). It also provides several scenes of David Cross and Jason Bateman, which has always been one of the best dynamics; witness Bateman’s dry reaction to Cross’s double date offer, or his response to the assurance that he hasn’t seen Tobias’s “gay character.” (“I think I have.”)

The crossing of their paths leads them to Ron Howard’s office, where he and Michael are taking a “haircut meeting,” so it won’t take long (again, good sport, Ron Howard). “I call all my barbers Floyd,” he explains, and this is as good a point as any to say how lovely is that these episodes are giving us the chance to see Mr. Howard acting again. It’s just plain fun; he was never the most versatile of actors, but he’s beyond likable, and the combination of editing and the trio of actors’ timing during Michael’s very slow realization that Ron is Rebel’s father is kind of perfect. (I also love the idea of “Imagine Generic, ” a side company used to extend the rights of projects in development, like the cheapo ’88 version of Apollo 13.)

There are a few dud bits here: the “first name only” stuff early on is too easy and doesn’t land, they haven’t figured out a way to make Bamford’s nosebleeds into the running gag they seem to be shooting for, and though Cross sells it, the “singing along to song you don’t know” thing has been done to death. But those are momentary lapses; it’s another very funny episode, and Cross is really killing it this season.

NOTABLE GUESTS:

  • Tommy Tune as tall, tap-dancing Argyle Austero

WELCOME RETURNS:

  • Tobias has learned better than to say “analrapist”: “Which makes me… a theralist.”
  • Emmett Richter (the shy hoarder), still pixilated
  • “They used to call me ‘Mr. Fantastick’” (singers: “Mr. F!”)
  • Micheal: “You know what I always say, family—“ George Michael: “Oh, gosh!”
  • Tobias to Buster: “You’re a monster, you don’t have to be any good!”
  • Tobias, back in his Blue Man makeup (“I just blue myself for the first time in five years”) to play Sue Storm—and donning his Mrs. Featherbottom voice

BEST LINES:

  • “We don’t have to hear this again.”
  • “Could you give me one second to organically get to… I’m a registered sex offender, how are you?”
  • “Well, looks like things are going pretty well for us! Except I’m broke.” “And I’m a sex offender!”
  • “She’s choreographing. Let’s all do it too!”
  • Lucille: “Hello anus tart!” Narrator: “And she never even saw the license plate.”
  • “Well that was a merry mix-up!”
  • “Patients doing pills on a pile of garbage? That’s not what we’re about at Austerity!”