Arrested Development "A New Start" Review: Daddy Needs to Get His Rocks Off

Arrested Development S04E05: "A New Start"

Tobias Fünke and the "misleading" way he talks is most likely the only reason you've ever told anyone that you'd be glad to suck up a chubby. He's a one-liner machine, a dumping ground for awkward, sexually ambiguous jokes and turns of phrase that wouldn't play in the mouths of the other characters but that the writers always seem to want to use, any which way they can. But no matter what Tobias says, he's so innocently endearing that you just want to kiss him between the cheeks.

I left the Lindsay episode pleasantly unsatisfied, marking the first time in the early part of Season 4, including the fourth episode, that I wanted a particular thread to continue for some reason other than to move us along to the rest of the episodes. "A New Start" fleshed out the story from "Indian Takers" and provided a firm backend for Tobias and Lindsay's evolving marriage. Or the shambles of a disastrous and doomed relationship, whichever you prefer.

One side effect of these new episodes each being dedicated to the perspective of a single character is that they're providing heavy development for characters that might've only been one-dimensional in the past. Tobias, while a favorite of mine, was little more than a mixture of physical comedy and subtle (and not so subtle) gay jokes. But, even if it's just due to the additional screen time and not through any change in the writing of the character, "A New Start" added new layers to Tobias as a person who's honestly trying to make his life work and to do good by his family, even if that "good" is dedicated to a new and dangerously diseased family. I mean, Debrie does have all the -itises.

But while the episode was both an opportunity to flesh out the Fünke part of the overall story and a place for Tobias to become a more fully realized character, it still felt like service for that final scene. Whether or not it's true, it feels like Tobias's story started creatively from his being on John Beard's To Catch a Local Predator. Everything else seemed like a way to assist Lindsay's story and to give him a reason to say, "Daddy needs to get his rocks off." Only Tobias, with the "misleading" way he talks, would come out with correct arrangement of well-meaning but terrible-sounding conversation to get his skull broken in a fourth place. On the patio.

If there was a drawback to this episode, it's that it relied so heavily on "Indian Takers" for the audience to get the most out of it (which really makes you question why anyone in the AD camp ever said viewers could watch the new episodes out of order). If the key to defining a "strong episode" of a TV series is that it can stand alone, "A New Start" would struggle to qualify. While the jokes were sharp and it's always a pleasure to see David Cross play Tobias, the episode doesn't compare to others that do hold up out of context. If I think back to "Motherboy XXX," "Top Banana," or "Good Grief," there's no comparison. Partially because it's unfair. Those episodes were meant to be (mostly) self-contained units. "A New Start" was not.

I can see why some viewers have labeled this episode a valley in the ups and downs of the early part of Season 4. I understand that maybe too much Tobias is a bad thing, that a lot of his story depends on Lindsay's, and that having so much of the comedy stem from his entendre can get old. I understand, but I don't agree. At the risk of sounding like a blowhard, I think "A New Start" worked in a way many others so far haven't. Tobias being the one who sat behind Lindsay on the plane, "Anustart," the hapless devotion to his perceived craft, turning down Lucille 2's gig at Austerity, and then right up to John Beard getting to play Chris Hansen all built upp  a strongly written and performed, if not heavily plotted, half-hour. I'm just afraid that it blew its wad with Tobias too early.


LET'S GET IN THERE AND FIND SOME ANSWERS

– I respect Maria Bamford for the decades of comedic work she's done on stage, in television, and as a voice actor. I hope she doesn't really run like that.

– Which is more offensive? No tip or tipping in quarters?

– The MST3K reference on Arrested Development. Anyone who fell into the overlap of the very tiny circles in that Venn diagram felt their heads exploding.

– Can someone give Nelson Franklin another show? Please? Just put him and David Walton in a sitcom together. It'll work.

– Again with the duck thing. Again with the hilarity. I'm not sure what it is about watching the Fünkes cower while trying to cook a live duck that's so funny to me. "Hot orange!" "It's throwing its voice!" Although the perfectly framed Fünke family portrait at the end of the sequence was weird.

– That was definitely G.O.B.'s voice inviting Debrie and the other "party girls" into the limo. I'm ready for his episode now.

– "Should I just improv my way out of a marriage? Yes and..." I think the natural evolution for Tobias's bad acting is terrible, cliched improvisation. I'm waiting for when he pulls out an imaginary gun like Michael Scott.

– Interestingly, the episode that focused on Tobias depicted him as probably the most hetero-normative he's ever appeared, from him impulsively kissing a girl to being the "rock" for his lady. "No, you're neat."

– Tobias is a doctor and Debrie has a law degree. Modern-day Huxtables?


Comments (22)
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Just watched this episode and while the first 4 didn't seem as good as they were in first seasons, this one definately cracked me up many times, especially with those one liners etc :D
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To me, he will always be the wheelchair guy from Scary Movie <3
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Haven't watched all of them yet, and I keep hearing how they get better...but so far? Meh... I've been thinking it's because they're funniest when they're all together and that's just not happening right now. Each character is acting with other, new characters. I want to see at least a FEW of them interact with each other, if not as a whole. I'm hoping when people say that the season gets better it's because the family starts talking to one another.
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Officer: "Are you here to see your daughter?"

Tobias: "Yes...... Maeby"

Classic!
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@ Nick Campbell
you are making a "HUGE MISTAKE"...
judging season 4 per episode is a really bad idea... (i explain more underneath)
1) do some research, Hurwitz said several time that he made changes and now each episode has to be watched in order.
2) judging each episode brings the weirdest results because they are no episodes. The entire Season is 1 episode told from different angles. How can you effectively Judge the Lindsay or Tobias episode when you haven't seen the entire material?
3) The character development was 1 dimensional before because the series was within a narrow time frame, now they are covering 8 years and people change,look at Britney Spears ;)

By judging these episodes individually you are setting yourself up to a whole bunch of apologies. Save yourself from that, watch the entire season and write a review about that in several parts. I believe Season 4 is something you have to watch twice to fully enjoy it, There is so much the brain cannot process. Want proof? Go back to episode one where Michael lands in Phoenix. Check out the large painting in the background while Michael walks through the airport. This painting has 14 secrets with key moments of the first 3 seasons. Nothing is coincidence in this show. Everything makes sense in the end.
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Wholly disagree with the thrust of what you're saying here, it comes off as fan-justifications for why a lot of these episodes don't work, you argue that just because episodes 1-3, and 5-9 don't work doesn't mean that they are bad, it's the viewer's fault for judging it on its own merits.

"There are no episodes" - tell that to the editing, to the credits, to the Netflix format presenting it, to the titles, to the repetition of beats from episode to episode, to the "beginning, middle, end" style of each episode, to the fans who got excited when the run was extended from 10 episodes to 15 episodes.

If a viewer comes into these and can't enjoy an episode on its own, what is going to keep viewers coming back for more later? If these were edited into a single movie, what would you say to a movie where the first and second of 3 acts don't work that well?

The original AD episodes were funny on their own and fun intermingled, but they stood on their own first. If these new episodes cannot stand on their own, they fail the sniff test. If they stand on their own, then they open the door to the next one. But they can and should be judged on their own as well part of a whole.
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I think it's funny... but not quite the same. So... it's "ok" and not great

Which is to be expected. They were off the air for like 7 years. They all lost their "groove" The actors, writers, etc... they've all changed since then.

I don't think it's so much of a "our tastes have changed" thing since most people I know still love the original seasons. Even those somewhat new to them.

It's to be expected... you walk away from something creative for 7 years... it's not going to be the same when you get back.
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I really liked this episode. Like you said, it gave new layers for Tobias and I find myself really fond of him. For me, it was one of the best episode of the season. But I am still not used to the format, I miss the family being together in one room.
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The problem that seems to be escaping most is that this is probably the first show ever written based on the availability of the actors. It must be a labor of love, because how could it not be? These people are doing this for the best reason ever--because it's the right thing to do. Who says you can't go home again--not me...
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Yeah. While I can't really blame people for not liking this season, since it is so different, I think the writers have done an admirable job, especially considering what they had to work with (scheduling issues, and the fact that it has been so long since the show originally ended, the actors obviously got older, and they had to cover everything that has happened to the characters since then). That being said, if they do make another season or a movie, I hope they'll be able to work something out so they can have more scenes with the whole family. I love this format for what it is, but I don't know if it would work beyond one season.
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Lindsay and Tobias are flavor, they are the least watchable people of the main AD cast. Why they each got 2 episodes early into the new season, and why those episodes were so repetitive, is entirely beyond me. I tired quickly of the same jokes over and over, yet when I finally watched episode 10, Queen B, the other day Tobias was really funny there. What's the difference? MODERATION, MULTIPLE LEVELS OF JOKES, MULTIPLE TYPES OF JOKES. Anustart here lacked those things and dragged hard.

Tipping in quarters is really, really bad.

The MST3k reference was cute, but it was more impressive that they got real Joel and real Crow T. Robot to essentially voice a scene that was covered up by a voiceover narration.
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When they announced they were doing this I never dreamed they would ALL show up with bells on, but they did. Ron Howard and even Liza Minelli--WOW!!
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I've always loved the "stair car" because of it's splendid absurdity, and that was my favorite star that returned for this...
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Tobias does have a knack for saying all the wrong things. Jail time seems a little extreme. Couldn't a lawyer prove that Maeby was living in the house? BTW, for a therapist, Tobias is very bad at listening.
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No comment on how they worked in the existence of the 1992 Fantastic Four film? You DID know that was real, right?
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whats taking so long for these reviews? the wife & i have been done with the show for a few days....and tv watching is your JOB. hah.
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Gluttony is not a pretty thing. You waited years, so why not a few more days. Netflix doing it this way is kind of an example of time happening all at once, but that wouldn't be any fun. I've only watched two so far and I'm right--you know I am...
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i didnt wait years. the wife & i watched the whole series on netflix in the last 2 months. never watched when it was on fox.
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The first three episodes had me little worried. "B-Team" and this one, while not great, were the two that hooked me back in. Got me to believe the characters and stories are not as different as the new format makes them appear. It was an odd season, but it did have its moments in the mid-late episodes especially. But this one was important in getting injecting a little of the "old feel" back into the show.
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I fall into the camp of feeling that both of Tobias's episodes were the worst two of the season. Not that there weren't some good jokes, in fact the duck scene and the hot oranges probably made me laugh more than anything in Season 4. But Nick laid it out perfectly; Tobias is best in small doses, and there was just too much of him. His arc, more than anyone else's, fell victim to the new format. If Season 4 had occured in the same way the first 3 did, and Tobias's story was stretched into increments among 5 or 6 episodes, it would've been a lot better.
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I'm honestly confused by this review, I can't tell if Nick likes or doesn't like the episode. Most of the criticisms he voices (at least I think they're criticisms, I can't tell lol) are things that make me love the new AD:

- Relied too much on previous episode.
- Cannot be viewed as a standalone episode
- Tobias moving on as a character without Lindsey
- The episode moved in a way to set up the last scene

These are all good things to me, and part of why this episode was freaking hilarious
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I loved this episode. Easily one of the best, if not THE best, of the ones I've seen so far (the first 12). For one, it was the first episode that really went all-out with integrating the story with integrating itself with another character's story, and the scenes where it does intersect with Lindsay's story were really funny (especially the scenes on the plane). Also, it did a really good job of putting Tobias in a very different situation than we've come to expect from him, which was surprisingly dark comedy for him and the show (him unkowingly destroying DeBrie's life, who admittedly was already messed up, but COULD have been saved - especially since she was already in a methadone clinic), and fleshing out his character like you said, while also remaining true to his hilarious character (ANUSTART, "Daddy needs to get his rocks off," etc.).
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