As for “Arrested Development,” there was understandable excitement when Netflix saved the series back in 2013, a decade after its debut on Fox. But now, each new flurry — with long intervals in between — feels almost like a separate revival, offering fleeting warmth in seeing the gang back together before simply wishing it would be allowed to meet a natural end.
In some respects, the Trump administration has been both a godsend and a curse to the writers, offering a source of satire while pretty much eclipsing anything that they can muster. So while it’s mildly amusing that a subplot involves the anything-for-a-buck Bluth family borrowing Chinese money to try building a wall, the jokes are chasing a news cycle that frequently feels as if it has already lapped them.
The new season (actually the eight-episode second half of the fifth one, as the show’s describing it) does incorporate an interesting flashback thread that depicts the Bluth kids as children, offering some insights into the horrible parenting they endured and their general dysfunction.
The basic formula, however, remains the same — playfully leaping among the various characters, and even incorporating talk of an Imagine TV series, about which company co-founder/narrator Ron Howard cheekily comments.
The murderers’ row of a cast — including Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, who have had time to go star in separate Netflix shows they’ve produced — generally seems to be having fun each time they slip back into these characters.
Whether viewers will feel the same way will likely depend on how invested they are in this 16-year-old saga, which even in an age of abundant nostalgia, seems to signal that the Bluths — having exhausted most of their capital — are ready for retirement.
“Turn Up Charlie” and “Arrested Development” premiere March 15 on Netflix.