The ‘Arrested Development’ Trailer Is Underwhelming

This is ... Arrested Development.

This is ... Arrested Development.

Here’s the trailer for the new season of Arrested Development, streaming in its entirety on Netflix starting in two weeks or so:

In response, Stefan Becket tweeted “Nobody’s saying it, but the Arrested Development trailer was underwhelming.” This is both fair and accurate. But that was inevitable, right? I can’t think of a television show less-well disposed to the out-of-context shenanigans that trailers require.

The thing about Arrested Development—the reason it never found a consistent TV audience and didn’t gather a relatively large and loyal following until it came out on DVD—is that it only works as a total piece of entertainment. And, frankly, it only really works on second viewing, when you can catch all the call-forwards.* It can’t really be watched out of sequence (unless you’re familiar with the whole show).

So how are you supposed to make a trailer for something that doesn’t make any sense if viewed stripped of context? Further, how is that trailer supposed to give a sense of whether or not it’ll be funny?

The trailer above really only serves two purposes: It’s a reminder that we’re getting more AD (and soon!) and that the gang’s all here. This is more a reassurance than guarantor of quality.** And in that regard, it succeeds just fine: Look at how much we’re all nattering on about it.

*In comedy, a callback is a reference to a joke previously made. AD was littered with call-forwards, in which a character would do something kind of funny on its own (like man-child Buster reminiscing over a chair shaped like a hand which he used to own) which would then become doubly funny on repeat viewings (in a later episode, Buster loses a hand to a vicious seal).

**Compare the AD trailer to the Man of Steel trailer, which is remarkably effective and suggests that Nolan and Snyder have cracked certain aspects of the character other film adaptations have failed to grasp.