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Arrested Development Recap: Michael Bluth Goes Hollywood

Vulture is doing fifteen immediate recaps for hard-core Arrested Development fans. Five regular Vulture writers will write on three episodes each. More in-depth analyses of the new episodes will appear in the coming weeks.

Every time I advance to the next Netflix-cessible Arrested Development episode, I worry that J. Walter Weatherman will appear and declare: “That’s what happens when you believe there’s going to be an entire new season of Arrested Development.” Then: poof! (And Poof!) No more Bluths.

But it’s already episode four and that hasn’t happened yet, so I’m feeling good. No, I’m feeling great, because “The B. Team” was just tremendous, as consistently funny, fast paced, and mega-dense with inside jokery as the very best AD episodes from back in the day — the day being 2004 and 2005. If the first three installments felt like a warm-up for Mitch Hurwitz & Co., this was an intense sprint that immediately required multiple rewinds to catch all those Bob Loblaw zingers that got lobbed (lawed) so damn quickly. (“Law bomb!” “That’s a low blow, Loblaw.”)

Episode four introduced the wonderfully meta conceit that many fans anticipated. Ron Howard — who, according to Barry Zuckerkorn’s intel, “apparently” directed a movie called Cocoon — decided to turn the Bluths’ story into a movie, and offered Michael the opportunity to co-produce it, as long as he could get the whole family to sign off on the rights.

By episode’s end, Michael managed to acquire the John Hancock of George Sr., an issue that resolved fairly easily considering that George was once convinced by a young Barry — Henry Winkler’s son, Max, proving that the “Ayyyyy” doesn’t fall far from the tree — to pretend he doesn’t have a signature. But Michael also gained other important things, too, like:

  1. A movie-producing dream team in Carl Weathers of Scandalmakers, Andy Richter, and Stefan Gentles, a prison warden who can’t operate an iPad. (“Apparently” he wrote the edgy screenplay Prison Warden.)
  2. His own office at the Orange County branch of Imagine Entertainment, not to be confused with Imaging of Orange County. (“An embolism? I was just here to pitch a game show!”)
  3. A revived enemy in Kitty Sanchez, who once again sees Michael as competish. It’s just a matter of time until she shouts “Michael Bluth is THREATENING me” at a really inopportune moment.
  4. A new love interest (Isla Fisher) who’s an actress, bagpipist, doppelganger for Michael’s deceased wife, and Ron Howard’s daughter Rebel Alley — who Michael thinks is Ron Howard’s mistress Rebel Alley. (Note: Real Ron Howard does not have a daughter named Rebel Alley. But in keeping with Howard tradition, it seems fair to assume that Rebel was pretend-conceived … in an alley.)

As for the rest of us, we gained an episode that’s an instant Arrested Development classic, the kind that deserves to be saluted with Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” cranked as high as the volume on the tablet of your choice will allow.

Odds and Ends

  • Loved the fact that Brian Grazer and Ron Howard raised their office ceilings by bumping a few feet into the work spaces below theirs. They learned from the best: Lucille Bluth, sneaky bathroom renovator.
  • Michael’s reference to a mentally challenged woman who’s British so “no one could ever tell she’s disabled” obviously served as a tip of the silly hat to Rita. But could it also suggest that Isla Fisher’s “Scottish” Rebel might have a disability?
  • It’s interesting that Google refused to allow its name to appear on Michael’s obvious Google Street View car. What, that company only cooperates with movies that star Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson?
  • Everything in that Ron Howard scene — the many Opies, the fake Apollo–Gentle Ben story — was hilarious. But the notion that it was inspired by a Soft and Snuggly coupon was especially funny.
  • Make sure to peruse the Spanish movie posters that popped up for previous Howard films like Señor Princesa, Angel y Diablos: ¡Mas! ¡Mas! ¡Mas! starring Tom Hanks’s “bosom buddy” Peter Scolari, and a film whose title was obscured, but based on the description, is likely called Hermanos.
  • The alleged mantra for Jerry Bruckheimer’s production company (“Driving action toward love through a storm until lightning hits a tree™”) was poetry. So was the way Bruckheimer exec John Krasinski riffed on it while passing on Ward Gentle’s pitch: “I’m going to be honest with you: You’re not charring my tree.” If “you’re not charring my tree” does not immediately enter the lexicon, let’s all formally announce our plans to give up on humanity.
Photo: Netflix/FOX