In the debut episode of season four of Arrested Development just out on Netflix, “Flight of the Phoenix,” Michael Bluth meets the three main characters from the cast of Workaholics. They are just a few of the comedians who make cameo appearances in episode one and the rest of season four.
The Bluth family has fallen on hard times. But, as the title “Flight of the Phoenix” suggests, they are, like the show Arrested development itself, destined to rise from the ashes and fly once again. The title also refers to the city of Phoenix, Arizona, and the University of Phoenix.
However, they definitely have a long way to go to recapture their former wealth, as Michael (Jason Bateman) has sold all of his shares in the now-named Austero Bluth Ccompany and also owes $700,000 that he borrowed from Lucille 2 (Liza Minelli) to start up a business venture, a housing development company he calls Michael B Company. It unfortunately fails. His pride keeps him from asking his mother, Lucille, for the money to pay Lucille 2 back.
Michael, in a sleazy move that puts one in mind of something his brother, Gob (or G.O.B., pronounced Jobe), might do, sleeps with Lucille 2 to get her money. She gets dizzy and passes out.
He has even had to move into his son, George Michael Jr.’s (Michael Cera’s), dorm room. His son doesn’t particularly like this new arrangement, but puts up with it. Gob is still living in the Bluth model home he’s always been living in.
Lucille is having problems of her own, as she is on trial for having stolen the Queen Mary in the last episode of season three, “Development Arrested.” The plot of “Flight of the Phoenix” involves the attempt to get the Bluth family together to testify on Lucille’s behalf.
A subplot has George Bluth, Sr.’s brother Oscar (both roles are played by Jeffrey Tambor), trying to set up a sweat lodge on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. George Sr. takes the lodge over, and turns it into a business he calls “Sweat ‘n Squeeze.” It’s really, of course, just another con he’s thought up to part rich men from their money. The compound includes “visitor yurts,” for his wealthy clients to use while there.
Lindsey, Tobias Funke’s wife and Michael’s “sister,” goes to India to find a personal awakening. Instead, she turns her journey of enlightenment into a journey to obtain designer bags — they turn out to be fake ones — and a renewed willingness to work on her marriage to Tobias (David Cross). In season three, Michael discovered that Lindsey is not his natural sister, but was adopted, leaving the window open for a possible future romance to develop between them.
When she returns, Lindsey falls for another man, whose girlfriend Debrie (Maria Bamford) had a brief role in a quickie film version of “The Fantastic Four.” So much for Lindsey’s desire to make her marriage to Tobias work….
Tobias wants to make a fresh start, also. He orders personalized license plates to let the world know of this. He is one of the funniest characters in the series, because he has no clue that what he says have other meanings than the one he intends them to have.
Once in a past episode, Tobias thought he could find success by combining two words that described himself into one. The words were “analyst” and “therapist,” and he advertised himself as being an “Analrapist.” In this debut episode, he does something similar, coming up with the word “Anustart” for his license plate.
George and Lucille talk about getting a divorce, and their younger versions are played by Kriten Wiig and Seth Rogen in hilarious flashbacks. The flashbacks focus on Lucille’s plan to lessen the popularity of Cinco de Mayo by creating a new holiday, Cinco de Cuatro. To Lucille’s chagrin and surprise, the Hispanic community gets behind the idea for the new holiday.
Henry Winkler’s son Max plays a younger version of himself, the Bluth’s lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn. Scott Baio is Bob Loblaw, and John Slattery, Conan O’Brien, Brian Galzer, John Beard, and Ron Howard (in a role other than his role as the show’s narrator) are other actors who grace the show with their talents.
The three main male actors from Comedy Central’s hit series, Workaholics, as I mentioned earlier, make guest appearances, also. They are Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson, and Anders Holm, and they play three extremely passive aggressive airline ticket agents.
The guys don’t appear until close to the end of “Flight of the Phoenix.” They give Michael Bluth a hard time when Michael tries to snag a copy of their in-flight magazine, Altitude, which he’s featured in, despite not having a plane ticket.
Reportedly, Jason Bateman didn’t know who the three comedians were previous to their guest appearances in “Flight of the Phoenix.” He enjoyed working with them, but when someone came up to ask one of them for his autograph, Jason said: “I’m so sorry. What are you, why did he just ask you for your autograph? Are you an athlete? What sport do you play?”
Written by: Douglas Cobb