Hello, and welcome to a running diary that could be a mistake like trying to fool the Japanese investors into think that hillside wasn't full of moles. But I'm doing it anyway and you can follow my progress and some general thoughts on the experience and new episodes below.
I got this in my email this morning which only made me more excited, that, yes, the day was finally here.
A few notes up front: I'll try me best to avoid spoilers but a few might slip in. My hope is to just capture not necessarily events of the show, but the fun of revisiting this show seven years after we last saw these characters.
A few friends have asked me, "Don't you want to savor these?" And my response has always been the same: I will savor them; the beauty of this show is that more things are unveiled through multiple viewings and this is where you savor the show, not an in-the-moment thing. At least for me. If these new episodes are anything like the old ones - and indications are that, yes, they are - that shouldn't be a problem.
I recently rewatched the whole series again and though I've seen some episodes upwards of 6 or 7 times, new jokes always unfolded for me. And things that sort of blew my mind: provided the show keeps up with the real-world timeline, more or less, Lindsay could be 47 years old which blows my mind because no way does Portia de Rossi look anything close to 47. (And that will be the most shallow statement I make all day.
I'm being joined today by my girlfriend, Katie, and my dog Franklin (yes, one of his namesakes was Gob's puppet; the other was FDR). We'll be starting in just a few minutes once we get breakfast all set up. In the meantime, here are 25 blink-and-you'll-miss-it gags.
Oh, and here's my post from Friday, asking for patience. I just scanned Twitter and other than a few spoilers, my spot-check came up with nada. Good for you, Twitter!
All set with my t-shirt cause I'm a dork.
And, finally, away we go!
9:44 a.m. - Episode 1: Flight of the Phoenix (Michael 1)
And the new series starts off with two great casting choices.
One interesting aspect of this first episode - the pacing of the show is much different with the focus being squarely on on one character versus the break-neck pace of the earlier episodes. But the show still manages to string together multiple storylines.
P-Hound's Anteater is a great new band name.
Once I got used to the different pacing, it was easier to settle in. Overall, writing seems as sharp as ever. Bateman's delivery was a bit different but it's a different show than the first three seasons. Something to keep in mind with the different format.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 6.7 Frozen Bananas
10:15 a.m. - Episode 2: Borderline Personalities (George Sr. 1)
At least, I *think* it's a George Sr. episode based on the Netflix summary.
Yep, it's a George, Sr. episode!
The "Showstealer Pro" gag is in the lead very early for my favorite new running gag.
Like the way each episode seems to back up and recap the unseen time for each character. Could mean more overlapping storylines in the second round of episodes.
"Call me Father B."
Starting to settle into the rhythms of these new episodes, the different styles. As more unspool, so will the storylines and the way they overlap. Definitely the kind of viewing that warrants patience.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 8.2 ice cream sandwiches
10:51 a.m. - Episode 3: Indian Takers (Lindsay 1)
Time for a frozen snack.
Portia de Rossi looks different with lighter eyebrows. (Okay, THAT was the shallowest thing I will type all day.) Also, the camera crews in the background ought to pay off well. Spotted them in the background of Michael's first episode.
NINJA loans are a real thing, FYI. And the show is proving to be as good at political satire as it was the first time around. This time it's the economic crash, not the Iraq War.
Why are they bothering to bleep the swear words? I guess consistency with the old episodes. And there is something that makes it a bit funnier.
It's not "analrapist" but there are some solid puns out of Tobias so far.
Another solid episode and, again, the rhythms of these unfolding episodes is more comfortable and I'm actually starting to really like it. It's a pretty great set-up for a stand-alone series like this. Also, Maria Bamford's appearance was pretty great and seeing her work briefly against Cross was a DELIGHT.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 7.2 bags of clothes from Neiman's
11:30 a.m. - Episode 4: The B-Team (Michael 2)
Worth mentioning: any worries about Netflix having servers that couldn't keep up with demand proved unnecessary.
Also, love these shots at Google. Did I miss a story about a feud with them or is this just a gag? Either way, hilarious.
Happy Days reference AND O.J. reference? Slow clap for you, writers.
It's getting meta up in here.
A good run of cameos and hidden jokes and call backs in this episode. "Nah, nah, nah, Cuba doesn't have that kind of range."
The story lines are really starting to come together already and there are 11 episodes left. I'm starting to see what Hurwitz meant when said the new series is like an eight-hour movie. Getting used to Michael being backed in a corner and acting desperate which he never did in the previous episodes.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 8.4 stair cars
12:00 p.m. Episode 5: A New Start (Tobias 1)
David Cross getting his own episode, showing how integral Tobias has become to the show. This should also mean more Bamford appearances. I hope, anyway.
I called the Tobias/Lindsay story line parallel earlier. I mean, I didn't post it here because, you know, spoilers, but trust me. I totally called it.
More Bamford! She's amazing, and especially in this context. "We've got a 61-year-old male in full arrest, coming through!"
"Although the hate crime charges were dismissed..."
"In this instance, paper beats rock..."
And "ANUSTART" being the new "ANALRAPIST"
Lots of great quotes in this episode. Glad to have the canon of AD quotes expanded. Strongest of the bunch so far.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 7.7 Blue Men
12:33 p.m. Episode 6: Double Crossers (George Sr. 2)
Interesting to see both Michael and George Sr. episodes out of the way early.
Also, love the introduction of Herbert Love, a parody of Herman Cain (Terry Crews), and some fertile soil for satire.
John Slattery's role is even funnier given last year's episode of Mad Men in which Roger Sterling was tripping balls.
IN JOKE SPOILER BELOW
Lucille's "prisoner number" is 07734. Turn it upside-down, it spells, "hello." Which brings us back to Anyong and . FULL CIRCLE.
The episodes are getting a little looser with the character focus. Extended scene with Michael and Gob plopped right in the middle of this episodes. The flexibility of the show is starting to feel a little loser and just reminding me how much I'm excited for the Gob episode.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 12.9 banana stands
1:10 p.m. Episode 7: Colony Collapse (Gob 1)
The Entourage-themed opening is amazing.
Also, at least we know where so much of the budget went: to the rights to a few seconds of Simon & Garfunkel.
Alan Tudyk returns as Ann's father! And Bruce McCullough from Kids In The Hall makes a nice cameo, too. Also, Christian magic show!
One thing this format is doing is preventing us from having many scenes where more than two or three characters are on screen at a time. Not as many of those glorious all-Bluths-present-and-all-hell-breaks-loose scenes. Yet.
Still, hard to have issues with scenes like these.
Oh, my, Steve Holt.
Bees are the new... I don't know. I can't think of a correlation to the previous seasons.
It's also fantastic to have Gob back even if he is only a limo driver. Poor Mark Cherry.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 9.4 dead doves
1:49 p.m. Episode 8: Red Hairing (Lindsay 2)
Netflix lists this episode at 37 minutes. Dang.
Bees and ostriches. A real natural pair of additions for the season. As is Lucille 2's campaign.
A little hard to keep track of the timelines here. But it still (mostly) makes sense. I'm sure they'll draw them all together, perhaps a side effect of the character-focus of each episode.
The return of the Featherbottoms!
"Your lips are like a Murphy bed!"
The misunderstandings are coming fast and furious this season and it's fantastic. Cautious optimism has paid off for me. The series is pretty terrific.
But I have to be honest: starting to see Hurwitz's point about binging and risking burn-out with so many episodes.
There aren't immediate payoffs in the episodes but I get the feeling they're building towards some great ones later.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 11 Timosils
3:15 p.m. Episode 9: Smashed (Tobias 2)
Thus far, my lone big criticism of the show is not really a criticism so much as a personal thing: the character set-up per episode means we don't get very many scenes with more than two or three characters at a time. One of the things I love about the show is the way the cast interacts and plays off of each other in a frenetic, zinger way. With fewer scenes with lots of cast members, we don't those crazy ensemble scenes.
The plotline of this episode seems pretty well set up for some great comedy from Cross.
No, it's a gag. A fantastic gag.
"I call all my barbers Floyd."
Maybe I was a bit wrong. The musical aspect of this episode is funny but would serve better as a side-plot in an episode, not stretched out over 35 minutes. But the "Austerity" pun is pretty great. If the original run was a clever satire of the W. Bush/Iraq War 2 era, this season is a satire of the housing bubble.
Some fun moments and Tommy Tune was a load of fun as Argyle. And the plot lines are getting ready to merge all around Cinco de Cuatro. Still, the musical idea was hard to cover the whole episode but the ground work feels like it's laid nicely for the final third of episodes.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 5.1 pairs of jean shorts
4:00 p.m. Episode 10: Queen B. (Lucille 1)
Finally, Lucille and Buster! A great (if warped) relationship. Hale and Walter make for some great chemistry on television.
Just saw the green screen scene there was all that worry about. It wasn't horrible. You could tell it was a green screen if you're looking for it but it's not that long. Well, it's longer because all these episodes are longer. Anyway, didn't bother me that much.
Is it me or would these new episodes be even better with some tighter editing, making them just a tad more brisk?
The plots are moving along a little smoother now. Will be interested to see how easily other characters - Gob, George-Michael - are threaded in with only a few episodes left.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 8.9 vodka martinis
4:36 p.m. Episode 11: A New Attitude (Gob 2)
Will Arnett, still got it.
"I'm gonna be in a movie."
Tony Wonder's scenes are terrific as are the moments between Gob and George-Michael at the Gothic Castle.
So many "secrets," and misunderstandings and the "Eye of the Tiger" ripoff... a solid episode this far. Though with Taylor and Stiller (real life couple alert!) and Bateman I keep having Dodgeball flashbacks.
The Gob-Ann thing never made much sense to me other than a temporary gag. It's gotten some good legs on the fourth season, though. The mariachi version of "Sound of Silence" was a nice touch, too.
Everything about this episode was strong. Fantastic chemistry between Arnett and Cera, Arnett and Bateman, Arnett and Stiller... One of the best episodes of the bunch. Another example where some tighter editing might have benefited the episode but as long as all these threads come together, it's something that's easy to look past.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 17.4 illusions
Another quick break. Only four episodes left: Buster, Maeby, and two George-Michael episodes.
5:32 p.m. Episode 12: Señoritis (Maeby)
The only episode given over to Maeby Funke.
The extended explanation of Maeby's exploits over and over in high school is a fun bit but no reference to Surely Funke? You've got to put her to rest, I suppose. Also, Winkler is all over this series and it's fantastic.
"I'm getting an Opie?"
Isla Fisher has been a great running guest star in the fourth season. "It's harder than leaving Scientology."
While the LOVE/HOPE thing is pretty clear, does anyone else think Love's campaign manager is meant to resemble Axelrod?
Poor George-Michael and his Zuckerberg-like rise.
An intense episode with a lot going on even though it was Maeby's only episode of the season. Everything really is coming together nicely in a slightly messy package. Terrific moments.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 10.1 marry me's
12 down, 3 more to go. Time for a break from the couch and for dinner. I'll be back at 8:30 to finish up this marathon.
A few minutes from starting back up! It's going to be interesting to see how all the threads tie up together given the logistics of the final three episodes. They focus on two characters we've yet to see an episode focus on - Buster and George-Michael - and two of them, including the last one, are on George-Michael. I'm a bit surprised Buster was given short shrift in this sequence. He and Lucille both get one episode while Tobias gets two episodes? Of course, I realize there are probably external reasons for this (schedules not lining up). Still, it's curious and I'm interested to see if they cram as much into Buster's single episode as they did Maeby's. I trust the writers, though, and despite some of the short-comings I've felt with the new episodes, overall they've been pretty excellent so I'm sure it'll all tie together quite nicely. Which is why I'm so interested.
8:35 p.m. Episode 13: It Gets Better (George-Michael 1)
Given the reveal a few episodes back with George-Michael in bed with, well, SPOILER and all, I'm interested to see how this one kicks off and pays out.
George-Michael: The College Years. Pretty great stuff. In the scene in Spain where the parents are fighting, George-Michael is watching Sit Down, Shut Up, a short-lived animated series that featured many of the AD cast members.
Also, Cera should always wear that creepy mustache.
"X minutes later..."
Also, well-handled by the writers by the jump back to the opening episode not feeling jarring.
Poor George-Michael, always stuck on Maeby. And poor Andy Richter, too. And more meta Netflix humor.
The voicemail exchange that spirals out of control was pretty funny but could have been cut down a bit; overall, one of the few problems with these newer episodes.
Still, an episode that manage to weave smoothly even though we're at the end of the "season" and it's George-Michael's first episode. Here's hoping Buster's is as smooth since his episode is next and that one and the second G-M episode will be responsible for bringing it all back home.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 8.0 Dangerous Cousins
9:14 p.m. Episode 14: Off The Hook (Buster)
Quite an opening, finding Buster in a serious relationship with a beautiful woman with two children. Or... so we think?
Also, the Showstealer Pro gag still hasn't gotten old.
All-Alone Buster is too much like Norman Bates.
And there's Ron Howard: "Like that Vince Vaughn movie, Psycho."
Poor Buster, the cord has been cut.
You know, the odds of Buster being behind the drone program are actually pretty good these days.
Buster, The Blind Side
Again, the great political overtones of the show's satire are still evident. Blind Side Buster is like Joe The Plumber.
"There's something different about you."
"I've been with a black woman."
Oh, Buster, never ever change. Tony Hale's genius continues on VEEP if you like him here.
What a weird ending to this episode which was pretty great overall. And very dark. Just like the whole season. Wish Buster could have gotten a second episode. This is setting things up pretty well not only for an excellent finish but for future reviewings.
Arbitrary Unnecessary Knee-jerk Reaction Rating: 7.7 hooks
9:56 p.m. Episode 15: Blockheads (George-Michael 2)
War Pizza! Great job, Michael Cera, writing in a make out session with Isla Fisher to your story line. You sly dog.
The first rule of Twin Club is don't talk about Twin Club.
And with 23 minutes left in the whole season, we have our first buffering! Pretty good, altogether.
After several bufferings, we've hit the pause button.
Started again. So far, so good. Better than the residents of Sudden Valley.
More buffering issues. Lots of night-time parties must be hitting the Netflix servers hard. But while yall are sleeping off your hangovers, I'll be up drinking at brunch tomorrow morning. Just hit pause and LET ME FINISH THIS I AM SO CLOSE LIKE 15 MINUTES AWAY CLOSE. I may also be losing it as we near the 13-hour mark (admittedly with plenty of breaks) of our binge-watching adventure. We've eaten three full meals, taken the dog on 2 long walks, and had the dog pee in the house once. This is what happens when you do this.
George-Michael receiving some uncly advice he should ignore. Final 10 minutes of the series and a lot of loose ends to set up for the alleged movie, I assume. Here we g- dammit! More buffering.
Wow. And we're done. And that ending was weeeeeiiiiird. The whole season definitely had a dark undercurrent to it and that's still there now. From Michael acting uncharacteristically douchey to Lucille 2's status as missing person and Buster's arrest as the murder suspect, this was a dark, weird take on the Bluths. It was definitely funny at times and this is clearly the perfect set-up for the movie to come... whenever it comes. But man, there's a lot to digest.
Overall, a great experience, a great set of episodes with much to parse through on multiple viewings down the road, and only one episode plagued by buffering issues.
All in all, a success.
And now, to call it a day (or night).
Watch for my post-mortem on the experience and the season on Tuesday.