Fans rejoiced when it was announced back in 2012 that a new season of Arrested Development would premiere on Netflix. The cancellation of the beloved show after only three seasons left fans devastated and they were understandably excited for an opportunity to see all of their favorite characters back to together. However, the big problem with bringing a new season to fans was the shooting schedule and actor availability of the main cast. Because the actors had other commitments, the show had to film with stand-ins and creative editing was used to disguise this in post-production. It was due to this unusual shooting method that the decision to change the format came to fruition. Each episode focused on one or two characters and it was only toward the end that the big payoffs were revealed. While receiving initially positive reviews from critics, the fourth season didn’t have the same reaction from fans at-large. The format change was too awkward, repetitive, and didn’t feel like the series people had obsessed over.
With a new season on the horizon, the creative team has finally released a long teased about remix of the 15 original season four episodes. Now the story unfolds in a linear 22-episode run that feels familiar to fans. Ron Howard recorded new voiceover to accommodate the changes and unused footage helped fill in some of the gaps.
Having sat through the entire 15-episode run of Season 4 in one sitting when it debuted back in 2013, I can say that it had little re-watchability compared to the previous three . It slogged on and on, but I was determined because I loved Arrested Development and wanted to give it a chance. The payoff spread over the last few episodes did save the season overall, but I never felt compelled to go back and watch it again.
I was a bit apprehensive about watching the remixed season because it felt very gimmicky to rework material that’s already available. Having binged the season over a couple of nights, I will say that it does feel closer to how the old series felt in terms of its pacing. The awkwardness of the filming is still evident, and there are places where the episodes don’t feel like they’re progressing anywhere. Nonetheless, it’s a huge improvement on the format of the original Season 4 even if the payoffs don’t feel quite as epic as when they were fresh.
If the formatting of Season 4 didn’t sit well with you, you might find the remix more palatable even with its flaws.
Season 5 of Arrested Development debuts on Netflix on May 29, 2018