[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Cancellation of Arrested Development established as “huge mistake”[/pullquote1]
Mitch Hurwitz’s cult favorite, Arrested Development, is returning to the small screen. Since its run from 2003 to 2006, rumors of a revival have been rampant. The show’s creator and stars have never been quick to squash these rumors, and this year they have finally come to fruition through Netflix’s original programming initiative. Netflix’s unique ability to provide online streaming of multiple seasons has changed the way people watch television. While many see Netflix as promoting binge television watching, its format has made way for a break from episodic storytelling.
Hurwitz spoke with Entertainment Weekly in October of 2011, explaining the general idea behind what a fourth season of the television series would look like. The model was framed around 13 to 14 episodes that would each follow a character since the ending of the series, potentially leading up to a movie or a fifth season. The release of the 14-episode list showed all episodes were named after characters in the show with two named for Michael, George Michael, George Sr., Lindsay, and Gob (curiously enough with Gob’s being the only non-consecutive ones).
The episodes “depict what happens in 2006 as the Bluths fled from the law on the Queen Mary,” Hurwitz said. Each episode will follow a unique individual, and all of the episodes will be available at once. Regarding its new approach to storytelling, Hurwitz elaborates that the show “slowly reveals itself, as the moment you saw in one show will re-appear in another show from a different character’s perspective.” Arrested Development has experimented with that kind of two-sided storytelling before (see: Lindsey Bluth’s “affair” with her lawyer). Having all the episodes available on Netflix at once is going to really allow the show’s writers to tell their story in an entirely new format to television.
Netflix is the perfect partner for Arrested Development. Hurwitz allows that if Showtime had won the bid, “saner ideas may have prevailed” regarding the episodes, their format, and their story. Netflix, on the other hand, is bold enough to experiment with original programming in an age of new media possibilities.
An exact date for the release of the fourth season hasn’t been set officially, but Netflix’s championing of the new season began months ago. A favorite sly nod to Arrested Development fans was the placement of fictional movies from within the series on Netflix as possible viewing possibilities. Girls With Low Self Esteem: Newport Beach, Boyfights, Scandalmakers, Wrench, Mock Trial with J. Reinhold, Caged Wisdom: Musings From Prison, Families With Low Self Esteem, Ready, Aim… Marry Me!, and Les Cousins Dangereux were all given short summaries to read as you hovered over their covers on Netflix. Unfortunately, all of them lead to the Arrested Development instant watch page, not the actual movies. The clever promotion represented Netflix’s own excitement over the forthcoming fourth season.
To prove their team is making a dramatic break from the linear storytelling model, it has been released that the fourth season of Arrested Development can be watched in any order. It’s not that the show will be covering completely different events — it’s that each episode will be the events seen through the perspective of the episode title’s character. The experience is sure to be something completely new and only able to be offered by Netflix. The style suits Arrested Development perfectly, and it may not be suitable for other television shows. No matter what, this experiment will open up possibilities that have never been explored in television before.
For less adventurous viewers, there is a “recommended” viewing order. As fans of Arrested Development already know, the show lends itself to multiple viewings, so I imagine later this year, when season four is released, many Netflix subscribers will find themselves watching the new season — repeatedly.
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