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27 May 2013

For British Eyes Only

I didn't watch Arrested Development during its initial three-season run in the early noughties. In fact, I didn't really know anything about it until about a year ago when, faced with a constant stream of references and in-jokes made by both friends and family, I gave in and caught up with the first three seasons. I even made a Steve Holt! joke at work when we published a piece by Rush Holt. As such, when they announced a fourth season would be released on Netflix this year, I was as excited as the rest of them.

Rita — for British eyes only

Some friends hosted a screening party, where the plan was to watch all 15 episodes dressed as our favourite character. I decided to go as Rita, a rather, er, special British heiress, played by Charlize Theron. I couldn't find her favourite duck backpack so I made my own, as well as a "MR F" bracelet.

Ready for Arrested Development season 4

After some coffee and pancakes, we made a start, but we soon realised that watching the whole season might be a little more challenging than we had expected because the episodes were longer than the 20 minutes we were expecting: some were around 30 minutes, others were almost 40. Combined with a few refreshment breaks, by the time we went out to the garden for a BBQ lunch of ribs and sausages, we had only seen four episodes.

BBQ lunch

Even fuelled later on by an Arrested Development cake (mango and orange cheesecake with a blue handprint, presumably left by Tobias), some frozen bananas and, eventually, some sliders from the BBQ, people started to flag. I made it to the last few, but I was starting to drift off during episode 13, which finished around half-midnight. I'll probably need to rewatch that episode before watching the last two.

Our hosts hid lots of Arrested Development-themed props all over their house

I enjoyed the season, although because each episode takes place during approximately the same timescale, but seen through the eyes of different characters, the payoff is definitely better the more episodes you watch. I enjoyed the first few, but it was only once we got about halfway through that I really appreciated it.

Arrested Development cake

Frozen banana from the Banana Stand. There's always money in the Banana Stand.

Of course, the references—even to minor characters (yes, even Rita)—and in-jokes were as good as ever. It's a shame they took so long to make this new season, and some of the cast have definitely aged better than others; it was impressive they managed to get all of the original main cast to come back, though, and with guest cast members as varied as Ron Howard (playing himself, as well as the narrator), John Slattery and Kristen Wiig (perfectly cast as a young Lucille Bluth), it was all great fun.

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