Arrested Development debuted fifteen years ago. For a show that only ran three seasons on FOX, it’s certainly managed to amass some impressive staying power in the cultural conversation, likely due to the objective quality of much of that first run.
It was also a show made for binge-watching before binge-watching was even a thing, which is how it found such a long (and in some ways new) life on Netflix. Arrested Development features callbacks and plots that are more serialized than you find in most comedies, or at least most comedies from that era. That’s what made Netflix the logical home for the revival of a fourth season.
But a variety of factors forced a different approach for the fourth season. Rather than just attempting to make another season in the style of the first three, Mitchell Hurwitz and his crew made a set of episodes that were designed to be watched in any order, with jokes that built in different ways. It was an impressive workaround for not being able to assemble the cast, but it was overall a bit of a letdown for fans.
It was also a complete misunderstanding of what makes a binge-worthy show. That was five years ago, though, and creators have a better grasp, for the most part. Which makes today’s news from Hurwitz so fascinating. Not only will the next season (reportedly a return to the traditional format) debut sooner than we realized, but Hurwitz has assembled a remixed version of season 4, in an attempt to rework it into a style more similar to the show fans loved in the first place.
On the next… Arrested Development pic.twitter.com/NjP26k9KE7
— Arrested Development (@arresteddev) May 1, 2018
It’s essentially what George Lucas did with the Star Wars special editions, except the opposite, since no one much loved the fourth season, and it’s hard to imagine it being a worse version of the stories involved. If anything, just having the pacing return to something more similar to early Arrested Development is a win for fans, though they’re likely more excited by the promise of the new season coming out, which will apparently be happening sooner than we realized.