Isla Fisher in Sachi + Babi

Posted on May 28, 2013

This looks like two cute, but mismatched pieces.

 

Isla Fisher attends the premiere of ‘Now You See Me’ in Los Angeles in a Sachi + Babi dress paired with Dana Rebecca Designs jewelry.

Sachi + Babi Fall 2013 Collection

Turns out it’s just two cute, but mismatched parts of a Frankendress. Oh, well. Try again, dear.

Now.

We may as well admit that we only picked these pictures to give us a chance to talk about ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’S new season, which dropped in one fell swoop on Netflix over the weekend, and in which Isla made a very notable turn in an ongoing role which wound up adding quite a bit to the AD mythos (if not the Ron Howard mythos). Oh, and to give you a chance to talk about it as well. But really, it’s to give us a chance because as we’ve said many a time, if we leave an opinion un-expressed, it tends to cause skin and digestive problems for us. We’re not going to get too far into the weeds of the season, but we should say right now that if you really want to avoid SPOILERS on the topic, you should probably skip this post altogether. We have no intention of policing the COMMENTS SECTION FOR SPOILERS, so you should skip that too, if you’re so inclined. There. Done up in all-caps and everything.

And if you want to read a really good review of the season, you should probably skip us altogether and head over to the A.V. Club, where the always-excellent Todd VanDerWerff pretty much nails it, as far as we’re concerned. Long story short, (and as we put it in our one tweet on the subject), Season 4 of Arrested Development was an occasionally fascinating experiment in long-form storytelling that should be praised for its inventiveness and the meticulousness of its scripting. It was not, however, pause-the-scene, slide-off-the-couch-laughing funny, as the show sometimes was in its earlier seasons. At least not in our opinion. There were times when it got very funny and we are more committed than ever now to the idea that Will Arnett is a true comic genius and that Alia Shawkat has always been the un-noticed comic jewel in the AD crown (not to slight anyone else’s performance; the cast was uniformly good across the board), but the creative focus seemed to be more on cleverness than on being funny.

On the one hand, we applaud the boldness of that approach; of any approach, really, that commits to taking the show in a new direction, structurally speaking. There would have been an enormous temptation just to bring the whole gang back together for a series of repeating catchphrases and fanservice winks to the audience, but Hurwitz clearly had loftier goals in mind. The problem, however, with attempting this Rashomon-style approach to storytelling naturally means that the earliest chapters of the story are going to be confusing in their lack of context, not to mention heavy with exposition. In other words, in order to have an unfolding puzzle of a plot, you need to front-load the story with a lot of stuff that isn’t actually all that entertaining. It’s true that it all gets much more entertaining as the story goes on and various puzzle pieces click into place, but there’s at least an hour and a half of stuff in the first half of the season that’s simply not up to AD par, in terms of entertainment value.

But it’s hard not to be entertained just by seeing all the members of the extended Bluth family together again. Everyone brings their A game to the party and we have nothing but praise for them all. Unfortunately, and we don’t know if it comes down to wanting to experiment or needing to work around the schedules of busy actors (we suspect it’s a combination of both), the season consists almost entirely of the various members of the cast going off on their own –  literally so, in most cases – and only coming together one or two at a time. The great pleasure of watching Arrested Development is watching that enormously talented cast interact with each other. We’re all for doing unexpected things with the story, but removing a key element of its appeal can’t ever work to its benefit. Again, the way the show worked around this apparent scheduling issue was occasionally very, very clever (like Tobias’ and Lindsay’s McMansion argument), but we still would have rather seen, say, an 8-episode season in which everyone in the cast could interact freely rather than a 15-episode season during which they all spent most of it apart from each other. In most cases, when a TV ensemble really clicks it’s because it’s composed of talented people playing characters that mostly can’t stand on their own so all the talent is devoted to making the unit work as a whole. When you separate some of these characters out, it becomes obvious that some of them, no matter how funny or talented the actor, can’t really support 35 minutes off by themselves in the story.

Still, we enjoyed the hell out of it (mostly), appreciated the addition of some brand new terminology into the AD lexicon (“anus tart” stands with the best of them), enjoyed seeing all of these actors in these roles again, occasionally oooohed and aaaahed over the various clever ways the puzzle pieces clicked into place, kind of begrudgingly applaud the cocky, confident (albeit somewhat unsatisfying) way in which the season ended, and if we were the types to give letter grades to TV shows, we’d rate this one a firm Elvis Face. Or a B, if you want to be conventional about it.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Andrew Evans/PR Photos, style.com]

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