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May 28, 2018 | by  | in TV | [ssba]

The Bizarre Double Take of Arrested Development Season Four

If you have yet to see the original three seasons of Arrested Development, don’t bother with this review, it’s nearly as unnecessary and shameless as remixing the television oddity that was Season 4. Go and watch the show.
Cancelled after three seasons in 2006, Arrested Development remains one of the most consistently funny and unique sitcoms to date. Recurring gags delivered by an ensemble cast of very funny people, Arrested Development is a show about a wealthy family who have lost their money, but have not lost their self-important personalities.

With the original release of Season 4 in 2013, show creator Mitch Hurwitz aimed to bring AD fans something different, like a large puzzle that could be arranged and digested in numerous ways. Viewers were not treated to the staple format they had come to know from Seasons 1-3, but instead were provided with messy, overstuffed 30-35-minute episodes focusing on sole characters, despite some characters being rather incapable of shouldering an entire episode on their own. Other causes for the new approach taken with Season 4 resulted from showrunners trying to work around the cast’s acting schedules, a tricky feat seven years after the show’s initial cancellation.

Part of what made the original three seasons so great was the constant interaction between all characters. Some of these interactions are not seen once in Season 4; such as the show’s brilliant take on the disappointed father trope over George Sr’s son-in-law, Tobias. The most jarring change in Season 4, apart from the overall re-formatted approach to the series, is Michael Bluth’s downfall. Where the seven-year hiatus has left every other character at a point in their lives that makes thematic sense, Michael’s feels like too harsh a change in direction. Michael was the show’s moral and comedic grounding, often a foil to the ridiculousness and eccentricities of his surrounding characters, and his drastic change in character only exacerbates the strangeness of the fourth season.

Things only get stranger, with Mitch Hurwitz deciding to effectively remix the show’s latest season to better fit within the familiar AD framework. Released at the start of May this year, Season 4 received a (lengthy) rebranding — Arrested Development Season 4: Fateful Consequences. With this remixed series, gone are the bloated, single-focused episodes, now replaced by a more typical AD storytelling format more suited for television syndication.

Though impossible for Hurwitz to write out some of the wrongs of Season 4, most notably the dragging storylines of George Sr and Lindsey, the remix does provide viewers with a return to a more familiar approach to the series. Putting the story in chronological order means the overall story flows better, bringing the ensemble cast together earlier and more frequently. The remix, along with flowing better, moves at a quicker pace, as quick as that of the first three seasons, with the additional narration of Ron Howard helping tie many scenes together. All in all, Season 4 is likely more satisfying for most under its remixed “Fateful Consequences” label.

The remix appears to be a lesson about what can occur when showrunners second-guess the execution of their work. With the original Season 4 now hidden in the depths of Netflix, it’s hard to avoid seeing the release of the remixed season as anything other than an insecure move with club sauce. Obvious wrongs are hopefully going to be re-written in Season 5 (released on the 29th of May).


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