What an uncanny version of Portia di Rossi on the screen! I thought I was looking at Christine Taylor sitting on that hill in India before I realized it was di Rossi's voice coming out of that gaunt face. I've tried to pick out why she looks like the Tawainese animated version of herself, drifting back and forth between the clips of "Development Arrested" and "Indian Takers," but can't quite figure it out. The internet offers up answers ranging from an ill-fitted wig drowning her face to enough botox to stop time itself. I reserve judgement.
Of the three episodes we've discussed so far, "Indian Takers" felt the most like the old Arrested Development, something that seems to be happening incrementally as the new season continues. The writing was sharp, the plots were interesting, though I'm also starting to see a trend of jokes wearing thin that may have something to do with the lack of ruthless editing that comes with network notes and eight fewer minutes of broadcast time.
For example, consider the "that way you have it" sequence with the realtor (Ed Helms, at home playing a douche). It felt like something that would've been a cutaway in the past, maybe 10-15 seconds long, with a bit of concise narration to explain that it was 2006 and this sort of situation was happening all the time. Instead, we trudged through several examples of extreme add-ons for a house, well past the point where it stopped being funny but not quite to the point of absurdity where it might've become funny again. It was an uncharacteristically drawn-out scene, particularly for a series that has always erred on the side of stopping too early at the risk of people missing the gag, rather than ensuring that every member of the audience gets it but exhausting the joke in the process.
Everything else about the episode, however, felt like home. The "Thanksgiving Miracle," where the Fünkes coaxed a duck into an oven, forced me to employ the pause button so I could get all my laughing out. And while the difficulties in Lindsay and Tobias's marriage have always counted as an important dimension of the show, this episode really fleshed them out beyond their collective self-absorption and Tobias's quasi-ambiguous sexuality. By giving them an entire episode to leave each other, then to try to make it work, then for Lindsay to leave again, the show really touched on their relationship in a way that makes a better case for why they pull away and come back to each other all the time, despite the fact that Tobias is constantly thinking about hot seamen. It's less that they love each other as more that they just deserve each other.
But by the end of the episode, we'd learned that Lindsay and Marky Bark (great name) are going to make a go of it and encountered the Ostrich again, which makes the Ostrich almost as prevalent in the season as John Beard. When Lindsay revised her father's catchphrase ("I've got the worst f---ing shaman"), you got the feeling in the pit of your stomach that I consider to be one of the major drawbacks of a season that's formatted like this: You want more from this thread. You want to see what happens. But you have no idea when you'll get more information of even if you'll get more information about what happens next to Lindsay on the ostrich farm (they may elide it in service of some future plot point).
But that's only a minor quibble, particularly for a season of television that's released all at the same time. If yo uso choose, it's only a matter of hours before you know all the answers. So that's something else I can reserve judgement on. Until the new season of HIMYM starts, that is.
THE BEST NOTES ON THE MOUNTAIN
– Champagne glass breasts? I guess if there's anyone in history that Lucille Bluth could identify with, it's Marie Antoinette. You know, if the cake-eaters had let her live.
– I'm getting a lot more Chris Diamantopoulos in my TV diet these days than I ever would've expected. Boy, am I glad that Brian thing from The Office amounted to basically nothing. I like Marky Bark way more.
– Speaking of The Office, I forgot that this wasn't the first appearance on Arrested Development for Ed Helms. Remember when Lindsay was up for "multiples" at his open house? Good times.
– I'm not sure if anyone was trading butter for dessert, but bartering at restuarants was/is a thing. I'm not sure if anyone uses a gavel, though.
– We're three episodes in, so I think it's time I ask: Why do all the flashback segments from last season have watermarks on them? Is this a running gag I don't know about yet? Is someone trying to make us believe that Netflix couldn't legally obtain the footage from Fox (obviously it could, or we wouldn't have seen it at all)? Why did they use the trial version?
– Tobias is just about as good at improv as I am. "Yes, and…"
– They made Maria Bamford look rough. However, my only impressions of her come from '90s standup comedy, the one time I saw her at a Starbucks in Los Feliz, and her various princess roles on Adventure Time. So I'm not exactly an authority on what she looks like. Unless she looks like Hot Dog Princess now.
– Nice touch with the exotic chimes coinciding with Lindsay's revelation about Marky Bark's ostrich farm. "Cooooooooo-incidence." "That's not a coincidence." "Yeeeeeeeeh-ssss it is."
– Seriously, is John Beard going to be in every episode this season? No complaints. Just curious.
What'd you think of "Indian Takers"?
Note: We're gonna review each new episode of AD individually, so even if you've already binged and watched all 15 of 'em, keep checking back to discuss them one by one (and please, be mindful of spoilers!).