Last night, I finished the new (fourth) season of Arrested Development. I was mildly apprehensive when I heard they were bringing it back since I wondered if they could recapture the original magic. Then I read how the episodes were going to focus on one character and I became even more concerned and with good reason. Although I really enjoyed a few full episodes and some scenes here and there, overall I thought the series' resurrection fell flat.
The main problem is that some of the characters are just too quirky to be featured in their own storyline without them becoming too annoying. Tobias and Lindsey are very shallow and humorous in contrast to Michael who's dedicated to his son (at least in the original series) when they often forget they have a daughter. But seeing a full episode focused on just one of them left me more annoyed and, in the case of Lindsey, sad as the comedy doesn't work when it delves so deeply into their shallow waters.
They also took the bedrock of the series, Michael Bluth, and turned him into just another neurotic selfish member of the family. He became more pathetic and even backstabbing. ( I'm trying to write this without spoilers so I'll leave it at that for now.)
I loved the original series and have seen it from start to finish at least twice. I was genuinely looking forward to its return, but bringing back the show without bringing back the original formula that made it so great (namely, the family interaction), left me disappointed. Yes, the series is clever, the storyline complicated, but it often felt too clever for it's own good.
Lastly, I know they're trying to lead up to a movie, but after a long seven year wait for the show to return, they needed to have some kind of closure to the storyline and instead they left it far too open and too many things unexplained. This might be okay if we knew for certain when we would get more answers, but the series' future is left in doubt and it would be unfortunate if, after the brilliant wrap up of season 3, we were now left with this anti-climactic finish with nothing else to follow.