I could only stomach two episodes of the new Arrested Development revival this weekend, so please don't mistake this for any sort of informed review; it's more of a cry for help. The truth is, after those first couple of episodes, I'm not sure I can go on. What happened to the old magicillusions? Does it get better? I'm afraid to open another door I'll regret.

The contrast between how much the original episodes make me howl with laughter and how infrequently these new episodes tickle me is dramatic. I think I laughed fewer than seven times over the course of the two new installments, which chronicle Michael Bluth's awkward cohabitation with his college-age son George Michael, and George Sr.'s strange sweat lodge folly with his twin brother Oscar down on the Mexico border. In theory, the premise of both episodes seem ripe with comic potential. But the execution—especially the writing—is flabby and weak, like a fat man who dares mothers to make their sons join the army, instead of enlisting himself. Yes, just like that.

Part of the problem, I think, arises from a failure to get all the stars' schedules to align for very long. Creator Mitch Hurwitz's way around this was to structure each episode around one of the leading characters. Although some of the supporting cast members surface in each one, it's always up to one individual to carry the weight, and this may be Hurwitz's huge mistake. Inherent in Arrested Development's genius is the kaleidoscopic interplay of its ensemble cast, and the farcical dialogue that brewed up from their myriad combinations of dysfunction.

In addition, the first two episodes' scripts were characterized by a dismaying lack of that signature complexity and multidimensional humor that made the series so enduring. The Lucille/Buster smoking gag, to take just one example, dragged on way past the point of amusement. Was the writing team rusty, or has Hurwitz's edge dulled? Who knows. The increased freedom from time constraints probably doesn't help either—each episode that aired on Fox was bound by a strict 22 minute time limit. It's possible that pressure made the show tighter, forcing the writers to cram 30 minutes of hilarity into a 22 pound bag, with consistently dazzling results. As every writer knows, being forced to "kill your darlings" is usually a blessing.

It seems that Hurwitz attempted to compensate for the holes in his ensemble by packing the new episodes with celebrity cameos, but so far these feel tired and forced. Seth Rogen is a distraction, and, as my colleague Nell Casey put it, "Oh hey, Dan Harmon for 2 seconds how insidery DO YOU GUYS WATCH COMMUNITY ISN'T IT HILARIOUS AND INDIE???" It also doesn't help that we're now watching the show in extreme HD, and it's rather disorienting to see the Bluths, so much older, in such vivid, eye-popping detail.

Perhaps, if I soldier on, I'll acclimate, and, as Hurwitz argues in an open letter to fans, the episodes will "build" on each other. To be sure, I had prepared myself for some degree of disappointment—after all, how could Season 4 possibly live up to the legacy and hype? Still, this was more of a letdown than I thought possible. Two episodes in, I've got a sinking feeling that I can't shake. But even if it means me taking a chubby, I will suck it up!