Development Back on Track: Arrested Development Season 4

“Come on!” we cried. “There’s always money in the banana stand and it’s time for Mr Manager to reopen it!” we bellowed. “Steve Holt!” a lone egg Anne voice called out. Then, after 7 agonising years, they did it.

They unmade a huge mistake. They blue themselves and subsequently us, once again.

Yes, as you may have guessed from the liberal quote stealing and poor choice of words above Arrested Development is back as part of a (currently) Netflix only exclusive deal. A 4th series of the comedy, unfairly cancelled in 2006 and quite rightly thought of as one of the greatest of all time, has been discussed at length in the years since it finished to no avail.  However on 26th May 2013 we were gifted with 15 new episodes, each following a different member of the Bluth family in a plot more tightly interconnected and woven than anything we had ever seen before.

2 weeks have now passed since the release of the new series and though the initial excitement has dissipated many are still discussing whether the series was successful or whether it has tarnished a once perfect reputation. I for one couldn’t be happier with what we were given.

What you have to understand is that Arrested Development is a show which works on the complexity of its jokes and plotting. There is no show that I know of that gives more on a second viewing than Arrested Development; from Buster’s hand chair and seal toys in Season 1 to Tobias’s blue handprints which litter the background of the Model Home. If you’re willing to look, there will be something there for you to laugh at and Season 4 has many of these attributes but in a completely new way.

Due to the cast’s busy schedule many of the actors weren’t able to be on set at the same time. To get around this Hurwitz created a formula which sees us follow one character per episode but has their paths cross constantly. This means that whilst the series starts off feeling detached and a little slow, come the final 5 episodes you’re left marvelling at one of the most incredibly written and edited story structures you have ever seen. I can’t even imagine the flow charts/whiteboard/post-its with string attached to them which must have littered the writer’s room as they worked out how the most insignificant squeak or glitter spillage in one episode correlated to a major plot development 4 episodes later. You’ve never seen anything like it before and isn’t that exactly what you want from Arrested Development?

Not everything is successful however. Some of the jokes don’t work and whilst the plotting is inspired the new season does miss some of the interactions between numerous Bluths. There are other issues as well such as the fact that the George Snr episodes don’t work quite as well as, say, the incredible Gob or Maybe episodes and Buster needed more screen time. Really though, those are minor points. I expect on a second watch I’ll discover more to love in the moments I didn’t like and will see things that completely passed me by. And if not, well, 10 great episodes of one of my favourite television shows ever that I never expected to see again isn’t too bad is it?

What’s important here though is that the fans have been rewarded. We complained, bought DVDs, asked the actors and creators questions about the show at every Q+A and finally we have 15 new episodes to show for it. Plus, it may not end here. Hurwitz has stated that this season is just the first act of what he hopes will culminate in a movie. With a number of plot threads left open there is no reason that this couldn’t happen in the near future. I know I’ve got my fingers and hooks crossed for more, even if it does take another few years

And there’s Mitch Hurwtiz’s greatest achievement with this series. To paraphrase J Walter Weatherman: That’s why you always leave them wanting more….

Reece Lipman is a freelance filmmaker and writer who specialises in low budget short films and music videos under the banner of Shimmer-Man Productions. Reece has also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival and has a dangerously nerdy fascination with pop culture. He can often be found trying to convince people why Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who are the greatest things that have ever existed and wakes up most mornings wishing that he was Joss Whedon or Edgar Wright. You can read more from Reece on his website or you can follow him on Twitter (@ReeceLipman).

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