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    • SteveTetreault

      While I can appreciate the idea behind the structure of S4, my wife and I both agreed that it did not work as well as a story telling device.  SPOILERS: My wife and I, after watching, digesting, and discussing, had three main complaints about S4, all of which are easily fixed, and all of which we hope will be addressed in future seasons.  1) Focusing on a single character’s arc in each episode was problematic for us because not every character is as funny as the others. There are definitely “A” characters and “B” characters, so there were some “A” episodes and “B” episodes. The structure of previous seasons’ episodes simply worked better for presenting the humor.  2) Also, longer is not necessarily better - 21 minute episodes may have left a lot of film on the cutting room floor, but it also forced the editors to really make each second count. 32-plus minute episodes are 50% longer, which, in my opinion, diluted the humor by about 50%. The show didn’t feel “tight” as it did in previous seasons; there were lots of “dead spaces” in the S4 episodes, where previous seasons were just non-stop humor.  3) The story line of this season felt like it was trying to “fill in” the missing 7 years by presenting the entire seven years in 14 episodes, and filling those episodes with so many call-backs and references that didn’t necessarily fit well with the storyline - a lot of it felt forced, as though the writers said, “Well, if we had done these 7 years worth of stories, we would have had X number of call-backs, so we need to cram in as many as we can for the fans!” The extremely brief flashbacks of earlier seasons were great, because they were few and far between and funny; in this season, in felt like there were 10 flashbacks per episode, none of which were brief, and many of which featured substitute actors instead of the outstanding original cast. I get the were going for the cameos, but the stand-ins just weren’t as charismatic or interesting as the original cast.  4) Yeah, I said there were 3 issues, but my last comment reminded me of a fourth - the changing of Lucille 1’s character. The way she is addressed in this season just feels fake. At times, she is brutally heartless (yes, moreso than previous seasons), and at others, she’s painted like a martyr - not as in portions of previous seasons, as though we’re seeing it from her point of view and we’re given a sly wink by the show to say, “Yeah, she’s horrible, but she thinks she’s good” - no, in this season there were several episodes about how she is really and truly a wronged person. How that can be true while, at the same time, there are episodes about how she’s just a Machiavellian human being, just didn’t jibe. In previous seasons, we both agreed, there was a much better balance between the horrible-ness and the humanity. Overall, S4 just felt forced to us. There were a few good moments, and we both liked that one of our favorite shows of all time was back, but we’re hoping season 5 is able to recapture the timing, balance, character, and pacing of previous seasons. So, I guess that makes us the people who don’t want change - but why change something that was pretty much perfect?

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