When the touring frozen banana stand from "Arrested Development" landed near Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall last week, the only thing more striking than length of the line was the age of the crowd. Most of the fans probably weren’t even in high school when Fox prematurely ended the Bluth family’s dysfunctional misadventures seven years ago.
"This is history!" one teenage boy declared after snapping a picture of the stand with an iPhone.
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The kid is right: The impending return of “Arrested Development” represents comedy history in the making – marking an unprecedented new season, via Netflix, for a cult favorite that long ago said “goodbye” while fans were just saying “annyong” (that’s Korean for “hello” – if you had to ask, it’s time to catch up with the original 53 episodes).
As "Arrested Development" followers well know – and as Netflix is betting – there's always money in the banana stand. But are there more laughs? On Sunday, we'll find out whether we’re in for fresh doses of the old magic – or a Gob Bluth-like illusion disaster.
It’s been a very long final countdown to the 15 new episodes, to be released all at once. The “Arrested Development” audience wasn’t big enough for Fox, but grew via DVDs and Netflix, gaining young, latter-day fans who flooded the Internet with pleas for a revival – as well as memes that spread the show’s popularity. (Nextflix is using new memes to promote the comeback, including an animated gif of sexually confused, double-entendre-spewing Tobias Funke declaring, “Loosen up and do us back to back”).
The twisted sitcom boasts a comic sensibility, rhythm and language all its own (“Chicken Dance,” anyone?), engendering a feeling among fans that they’re part of an exclusive club – even if the recent media hoopla and overflowing banana stand lines heralding Season 4 suggest “Arrested Development” is bigger than ever.
A huge buildup carries the risk of a huger disappointment. It’s like the chance you take going to your high school reunion, praying you’ll run into your old pal (let’s call him Steve Holt). You can’t wait to see Steve and hope you’ll be able to pick up where you left off all those years ago. Otherwise, it's going to be a very long night.
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Whether or not you reconnect with Steve in any meaningful way depends on if you’ve grown up – or are willing, at least for one night, to return to, well, a state of arrested development.
One of the charms of “Arrested Development” is that it merits repeat viewings, thanks to great writing, fine comic acting and unforgettable moments – from Buster’s unfortunate encounter with a ravenous seal to Michael’s heartbreak in Little Britain to Tobias’ blue period. We’ll take it as a good sign that we can’t stop watching the previews released so far. Like show creator Mitchell Hurwitz’ greedy Bluths, we only want more.
Check out some clips below as “Arrested Development” gets ready to unleash the next (de)generation of Bluth madness: