The number four is a rather powerful number in both the world of sports and entertainment. For example, when any rock band comes out with what’s considered their masterpiece record, it’s usually comparable to Led Zeppelin’s IV. Number four Bobby Orr has a statue that sits outside TD Garden in Boston because he’s the greatest enforcer in the history of the NHL. So is BoJack Horseman’s fourth season greatness?
Aside from South Park, BoJack Horseman is unquestionably the most daring animated series on this here planet called Earth. One day a future species run by A.I. are going to discover a capsule with the greatest programming that our civilization had to offer, and in the Netflix chapter of the scrap book, crudely shoved in there, the beings will discover two pages stuck together. After tearing them apart, they will assuredly see BoJack Horseman.
At its boiling point, BoJack Horseman Season Four is almost a prequel to the show’s first season in a lot of the sense. During the course of the twelve episodes, viewers are whisked on an arduous journey of psychological fallacies that claim the human mind today which include the joys of depression, the fun adventures of Alzheimer’s disease, and the rock ’em sock ’em robots that come with being schizophrenic. The main difference this season is that we just don’t experience BoJack’s ups and downs. Nope, this time we sit courtside and view the difficulties of being a working upper-middle class kitty kat, Princess Carolyn, in Hollywood attempting to balance her career all the while dealing with her own bouts of postpartum depression after having a fifth miscarriage over the course of just one of her nine lives. Unhappily married couples the world over will surely see something in themselves as Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane attempt to put on their best faces for a happily-married charade while the cracks of their foundation are clearly showing. And of course, Todd constantly attempts to keep himself occupied all the while taking a left turn that comes with being of a non-typical sexual orientation, possibly the orientation that is least talked about despite the media’s increasingly progressive views towards the topic of sexuality.
The main drawback to the season is that as good as the writing is in terms of presenting these controversial topics, the art direction for a few of the episodes isn’t as daring this season. For starters, the “skip intro” must’ve held some sort of weight in the construction of the background gags in the introductions because they aren’t as fun as they were the show’s last season. For example, when we get the episode that deals with BoJack’s absences, I would’ve produced an intro without him just to kind of hit home the gravity that comes with how important that was. This concept of not really paying attention to the smaller details is the stuff that sits South Park on it’s thrown, however, it’s early enough in BoJack Horseman’s lifespan that hopefully, this could change.
I’ll give you an easy example…the flashbacks. The flashbacks are a mixed bag this season which stinks because there are a LOT of them. BoJack, Princess Carolyn, even Beatrice all have ’em. Early in the season, BoJack has a few flashbacks about the upbringing of his mother, but a few things go wrong here:
1)It’s isn’t made entirely clear from which vantage point these flashbacks are coming from, but I believe they were kind of put there by the producers for the viewers’ benefit rather than a legit benefit for BoJack. It gets a bit hairy to differentiate that, so I think I would’ve like to have seen perhaps a full-on throwback to the “talky” movies of that era to coincide with the already written dialogue that was certainly indicative of that era by producing perhaps black and white flashback scenes and characters that would’ve had a fun mingle with the colors that we already know. This would’ve been a helpful “guide” to truly differentiate the different eras from which we are referring to.
This concept is excellently deployed when BoJack has his hallucinations, featuring a possibly John Krisfalusi-inspired art direction that helped explain BoJack’s thought processes. Yes, they still get a bit messy, especially at the end, but the visual differential helps a lot and the soundtrack is excellent.
2) Princess Carolyn kind of has her Click (Adam Sandler) forward-flash moment in imagining a future that doesn’t happen, and while it was fun to see the producers fuck around with the future in this universe, again, some sort of a visual ID to the viewers would’ve been helpful. It’s a bit easier to figure out than BoJack’s, but if this was meant to be an imaginary future, I would’ve liked to have seen a more creative visual aesthetic here ala her Adobe Flash-inspired scenes featuring the real cats that perfectly displays to the viewer “yep, she’s something here”.
3) By far, Beatrice’s personal flashbacks are the best-produced. The demonic-looking scenes that really show how fucked up her upbringing was featuring a horrid tale of distraught intertwined with BoJack’s own personal struggle that better helped differentiate the different settings than what we got in the earlier episodes when BoJack is at his grandparents’ cabin in Michigan.
In terms of dialogue, I’m not sure our scripts this season featured the same sort of a dramatic take when compared to season three, however, by and large, this very well could be the funniest season written yet. Boy oh boy, if you like your one-liners with pop-culture punch lines, you’re gonna get ’em here. BoJack, Mr. Peanutbutter, and even Hollyhock have some good ones, but Jessica Biel maybe steals the show for some of the best stuff…ALL COMING FROM HER!
Will Arnett gives the best vocal performance of his life in BoJack Season Four
Yep, like seasons’ past, BoJack Horseman does NOT skip out on the cameos and guest stars. Jessica Biel is probably the best recurring character this franchise has ever had, with silly servings of funny also offered up by the likes of Rami Malek (who knew he was funny?), Zach Braff, and Felicity Huffman. Raul Esparza was an excellent casting choice for “Ralph” because he was like the cold swig of beer after you snort a line of cocaine with the scenes he shared with the more uptempo “PC” (BoJack’s nickname for “Princess Carolyn”).
Overall, BoJack Horseman Season Four is a strong entry in the show’s run on Netflix, acting like one of those seasons in television where perhaps a franchise needs to take a step back and clear up some of the cobwebs as it pertains to BoJack and Co’s life. Will Arnett gives the best vocal performance of his life in BoJack Season Four, far superior to his “Batman”. The Arrested Development star huffs and puffs and reminds you this is a horse of course. Unlike Aaron Paul’s “Todd” which can employ the magician’s hot assistant act of reminding the audience that he does crazy and funny shit like run for governor or start up a clown dentistry operation (you’re gonna have a lot of fun with these clowns), Will’s “BoJack” character constantly reminds you that his character is possibly forever head-fucked and that he’s probably the cause of his inner-demons.
F is for Family is a hilarious show that gives a viewpoint on a middle-class adult life that isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. BoJack Horseman is the life you always thought you wanted, but with closed captioning featuring the lyrics of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”.
And now you know why you have Netflix.