Arrested Development "Double Crossers" Review: Out of the Sweaty Old Hotbox, Into the Fire

Arrested Development S04E06: "Double Crossers"

Another George Sr. episode? Oh, COME ON.

No offense to George Sr., but after nearly half the new season, we've seen only two episodes that aren't about him or Michael. And even in this one there was a little bit of cheating, as far as narrative perspective is concerned.

So far with this fourth season, the show has been pretty good about sticking to its various points-of-view. Each episode is centered on a single character and we see their limited view on the world, with a sprinkling of reminders for related items we've seen before. George Sr.'s first episode already fudged things a bit since it included scenes with Oscar, but those felt organic. Whereas with "Double Crossers," there was a whole segment dedicated to just G.O.B. and Michael talking at the model home, with George Sr. nowhere in sight. The show snuck in a Michael minisode on us.

But those are my two biggest complaints about this episode, that it contributed to the show's current lack of diversity in character focus and that it waffled in its perspective. Otherwise, there was a lot to like. Jeffrey Tambor is killing it with the two different roles of George Sr. and Oscar and then switching their personalities in a subtle-enough way that you can tell who's who, and that they aren't themselves. Even trying to describe the situation is confusing; I can't imagine an actor trying to portray it convincingly.

The key to "Double Crossers" was watching such a pathetic version of George Sr. suffer so much. The writers have been setting up since the end of Season 3 that George has never been the brains behind any of the family's operations, that Lucille has been orchestrating the ruthlessness the whole time. But to see him bounce from Lucille to Herbert Love to running from the blowback, all while dealing with a blow to his manhood (his testosterone levels are "off the charts," meaning they're so low they don't even register), connected a character who usually seems so strong even in hiding to the show's overall theme of the members of this family having to hold themselves together individually, too.

After two episodes that many people have noted as their favorites of the season thus far—Michael's "The B. Team" and Tobias's "A New Start"—this is the one that convinced me that the show has finally hit its stride. While I liked both "The B. Team" and "A New Start" (even with their flaws), "Double Crossers" was in its element, started to really utilize the new format, and was funny on its own without the support of attached episodes. I wouldn't call it my favorite, but it really demonstrated where this show wants to go.

So I guess I'm saying that the new Arrested Development began to get its groove back around Episode 6, which would be about unforgivable for those of us who got antsy around Episode 4 but we'll cut the show some slack because it's Arrested Development.



OTHER BARREN FLOWERS TO POLLINATE

– Race is playing an interesting role this season. Arrested Development has always had something of a white-washed cast, with limited engagements for people of non-blue color (there have to be more than just Ice and Carl Weathers, right?). With the running gag of "tipping a black man," Herbert Love as a parody of Herman Cain, and Baron Vaughn being party to that Republican strategist joke, this episode touched on that a lot.

– Speaking of Baron Vaughn, now that that show is over, can we get him on a good sitcom? Maybe the one with Nelson Franklin and David Walton that I'd also like to see?

– How does John Slattery charm me every time he's on the screen, no matter what role he's playing? That charisma should be a registered with some sort of agency. It's dangerous.

– "No hugging." When George Sr. broke down on the Mexican border and appealed for comfort from the surveyors, I was reminded of something. Have we heard anyone say "No touching" yet? I feel like with as much as Tony Hale has had to say it over the course of his post-AD career (I remember it being shamelessly noticeable in Chuck), the fact that one of the most beloved phrases of the series hasn't been uttered yet. Correct me if I'm wrong. They did do a "bees/beads" joke, which I really appreciated.

– Like a bee pollinating "one barren flower after another" might be one of my favorite lines of the series. Honestly, though I'm complaining about there being too much George Sr. in this early going, some of my favorite jokes have come out of his episodes.


– So much seed planting and sowing! There was the blast and alarms at Herbert Love's fundraiser (which seemed slightly odd), and I swear I heard Lindsay's voice among the crowd during the blowback to Zuckercorn getting a ladder (so he could reach the chachi); half the fun of watching this show is not following the story and just discovering the side quests.


Comments (15)
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I've just started watching season 4, and I'm sooo disappointed! What's with this new narrative style? It's so NOT FUNNY at all, so unlike the previous seasons of Arrested Development! I mean...Portia de Rossi has a whole new face after she got a ton of plastic surgery, and they haven't made that into a joke? They would have, in the pre-Netflix era.
It's really sad when they take a perfectly good show and they ruin it like that.
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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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I wish these reviews wouldn't just talk about how good/bad the other episodes are, how long it is taking for the reviewer to get into this season, etc. I mean, a good half of this review wasn't even about the episode "Double Crossers"...I came here to read about the episode, maybe discover a few little hidden jokes or gags I hadn't noticed before, not to read about the same thing ever single review of this season :(
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It was like that with the Community reviews, every week the first paragraph or so discussed how this season wasn't as good as the last ones, how it's a new show and how the reviewer wasn't a fan. I knew that after the first week, but it continued throughout the whole season!
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I liked his episodes okay...I think I was thrown off from having so much time devoted to him (and Oscar), when I'm used to his smaller parts in jail, etc.

I was also just feeling so antsy about wanting to get to Gob and Buster episodes, that perhaps I couldn't enjoy George Sr. story as much. Second times the charm?
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Second time IS the charm! Even though I liked the episodes the first time, I was surprised by how much more I liked them the second time around.
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While it wasn't exactly one of my favorites, this episode was still very enjoyable to me. I thought it did a good job continuing the George Sr./Oscar story, making that more interesting than the first George Sr. episode. I also really like the use of side-characters in this episode (and really, the season as a whole). They really help fill an ensemble role that would otherwise be missing with more limited interactions between the main characters. I especially liked John Slattery and Mary Lynn Rajskub's characters. And once again, the episode did a good job progressing the main storyline, specifically with the wall storyline.
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Without seeing how everything ties together in the end, you can't possibly understand why certain characters need to be developed earlier than others. Jokes that come much later simply won't be funny without tying up a few loose ends early on -- and that means giving certain characters more perspective than others for the time being. Certain things need to be established so we can flash back and laugh. Simply put, they're setting the stage, you just don't realize it yet. But if all you can do is nitpick how they're not following some rigid formula you think they should follow because your idea is better, then maybe you should apply it to your own TV series and leave theirs alone. Quite frankly, they don't owe it to you to adhere to one character at a time, or to do it in any particular order. What you've misunderstood is that it's not just about one character at a time... it's about one story perspective at a time and that means telling it from different angles which INCLUDE other characters as they become involved in the storylines within that perspective. Each character sets a ball in motion, sure. But where is this rule that they have to sacrifice their story in favor of a formula? With 15 episodes and 9 characters, how did you expect this to play out? Do the math. I enjoyed every second of the season to completion and have to gripes because it was done brilliantly. Calm yourselves and trust the magic.
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I can't think of any other black characters, but there has also been a running joke with Latino characters in past seasons, like Lucille's housekeeper, Marta, and the house painters. Plus all their trips to Mexico. That plays on race as well, in a slightly different way. This show has a lot of socio-political undertones!
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I really liked George Sr in the first 3 seasons, originally he was only meant to be a guest character but broke through so effortlessly. But here, as you said there is a bit of cheating and it's just not really getting anywhere, waffling in its perspective. I like the performance(s) by Tambor, but the content doesn't feel like it's really gotten me anywhere.

John Slattery is amazing in this show so far, he's effortlessly hilarious without being a "LOOK AT MEEEEE!" character, he fits so well, he's a classic even over... and I say this with no hurt intended, but over Barry Zuckercorn. I have to give mad props to Mary Lynn Rajskub too, her's is a small role but she plays it at exactly the right level - not too much, not too little, just exactly what the character should be.

I haven't heard a direct "no touching" yet, but that's fine, there can be riffs without being just the same exact thing over and over.

In answer to your question, my first sitting was 2 episodes, I had enough time to do 5 before leaving for a family event but those first 2 almost killed it outright for me. My sister is a huge fan after discovering it on Netflix and she watched 1 episode and didn't even finish it for a few days from disinterest, and has since done the same with the next 2.
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How can you mention how AD deals with black people without mentioning Franklin?

And now that I've seen the entire season three times, I can honestly say its my favorite season.. yes, I like it more than season 1 and 2.
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Because Franklin is a latecomer to the original party and a puppet?

I dunno how it can be mentioned without the 2 T-Bones though.
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And don't forget Ice, the bounty hunter.
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