This coming May, it’s been 10 years since Netflix premiered. Arrested Development revival, but you will not be easy to find it on the homepage of the platform.
Instead, you will be directed to something called Arrested Development: Destiny Consequences, A “remix” that rearranges the controversial non-linear narrative of Season 4 in chronological order. The point of the show is understandable: The show’s creator, Mitch Hurwitz, told the Television Critics Association in 2016 that he wanted to make a splash in future syndication deals by making a broadcast-TV-friendly version himself, so as not to risk a commitment to a third party. later. Certainly!
The only problem is, when it was released in 2018, this Season 4 remake immediately replaced the original version on Netflix; The first “remixed” episode, “Re Cap’n Bluth” now automatically plays after the last episode of Season 3, the finale of the original series.
For now, you can access the original 15 episodes of Season 4 from the show’s “Trailers & More” tab, as well as some rare behind-the-scenes oddities. At least in theory; Episodes are randomly disappearing and reappearing from their new homes, which fans have reported as an ongoing issue for the past few years. And when Arrested Development With Netflix leaving (as it may have been earlier this year), it’s hard to imagine both versions of the season moving with it.
Netflix’s decision to replace Season 4 with a streaming-focused edit shows a perplexing misunderstanding of the show’s past, let alone the broadcaster’s own role. Basically for all of his original three-season run on Fox, Arrested Development It was difficult to find an audience. “The hard part about this show is that it rewards those who pay attention,” Hurwitz complained to Fresh Air after the show was canceled in 2005. “We’re doing a show for DVD.” Streaming has become an even more flattering venue for him, and the show has finally established its cult status after becoming an early staple in Netflix’s online library.
When Netflix finally revived the series as part of its first original programming roster in 2013, the fourth season was eager to experience its new format. In conclusion, Arrested Development‘s return seemed almost hostile to traditional approaches to TV viewing. Originally conceived as a creative solution to the logistical challenge of scheduling a now much denser ensemble cast, the new season adopted an unusual non-linear structure where each episode focused on the exploits of a different character in roughly the same time frame. Especially early acceptance of this compelling and disturbing structure was polarizing. By 2014, Hurwitz was already discussing a chronological remake.
The first few episodes suffer from some obvious growing pains, but once Season 4’s distinctive narrative structure falls into place, it becomes the perfect playground for the long-form style of joke writing that sets the series apart in its first three seasons. at the peak of his power, Arrested Development‘s most impressive skill was to take a simple (or even bad) joke—the name Lucille, for example, sounds like a “loosen seal”—and place it at the end of such an obsessive, cheerfully detailed Rube Goldberg-machine. that the sheer enormity of his execution became the funny part.
A much larger scope, freed from the confines of weekly episodes and linear disclosure of information, allows the season’s most ambitious and timid long-form jokes to catch the audience off guard in a truly unique way. For example, we spend most of the season hearing about “Fakeblock,” a massive new software startup developed by George Michael (Michael Cera). When we finally take George Michael’s side in the Fakeblock story towards the end of the season, it starts with a scene set years ago where he complains about the lack of good virtual instrumentation practices for woodblock players. At some point in this scene, we realize we’ve reached the crux of a very strange, long-running joke that we probably never realized was being said.
Even though it’s obvious we only got half of the joke, we’re still better off for the overdue payment. In the first Lindsay-centered (Portia de Rossi) episode Episode 3, there is a scene where her husband Tobias (David Cross) points out the window of the real estate agent’s office and announces, “As you can see, I’m ready.” many things are new;” Their real estate agent (Ed Helms) looks out the window at Tobias’ car and winces a little. The crux of the joke comes two episodes later when we learn that Tobias, who has rebranded himself for a “fresh start,” has purchased a flashy license plate with “ANUSTART” on it.
Later in the episode, the scene is replayed with a cutout added to the plate, but this secondary version of the joke is far less funny than the one you got a few scenes ago if you’re following. Yet a chronological arrangement can only have a secondary, more explicit version of the joke by its very nature. This brings up one of remix’s main problems: There are jokes, but they often stray from the acrobatic practice that really makes them feel that way. Arrested Development jokes. Even worse, complex deliveries To do Survive the editing process, it’s over-explained and summarised, in case you’re the guy who catches it on the air again.
It’s insane how much of the heavy burdens associated with comedy timing in Season 4 happen on a structural level. Sequence is inherently fraught with many repetitions. In original editing, however, Hurwitz and co-director Troy Miller come up with many creative ways to reduce the threat of boredom, using it to reinforce subtextual jokes or come up with new jokes that turn the context upside down in old scenes.
An early scene at first appears to be an intimate meeting between Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), his parents (Jeffrey Tambor and the late, wonderful Jessica Walters), and their lawyers, until about halfway through, when their parents make the announcement. A divorce sparks a violent reaction from their youngest son, Buster (Tony Hale). Apparently, it was always there. The scene then opens up seven more times, with each sample revealing another family member in the room, until we finally learn in Episode 13 that the setting was actually a birthday party for George Michael.
The gradual unfolding of the deft staging of the scene in which each Bluth poses and is placed in a characteristic way around the room eventually turns into his own joke about the family members themselves about their extraordinary ability to create any occasion. According to Hurwitz, that party scene is the only scene the cast ever filmed together, which makes it even funnier and more meaningful to see him parse it as it is; After all, the most common criticism of the season (which Hurwitz and Miller may have obviously guessed) was the loss of group dynamics. Here, the apparent bug becomes a feature, as the original fiction deliberately positions itself around the question of what happens to narcissistic Bluths when they really become the main characters of their own stories.
This clarity of purpose is instantly mixed with the remix’s attempt to evenly redistribute the main cast across all 22 episodes, exacerbating the problem by flattening the impact of the few scenes in which they appear together. Honestly, how often is remarkable Destiny Consequences succeeds in turning lemonade into lemon. The one-episode supporting characters become endless, lingering throughout the season, and disturbing plots that were once compassionately self-contained, like a grand love triangle between Michael, George Michael (his son) and actress Rebel Alley (Isla Fisher). spread over much longer periods of time.
None of this means that the original version of Season 4 was a perfect TV season. He’s offended by badly aged jokes and nearly 100 percent too much Andy Richter, and his self-conscious tone often turns into obnoxious value. But in its best moments, watching Netflix is pretty remarkable if you have a little patience. Arrested Development Turn the main obstacle into a springboard for the most creative, ambitious and rewarding comedy writing ever on TV. or streaming.
Ten years later, we still haven’t seen anything like it. And Netflix’s eagerness to center the broadcast-TV translation of one of the first prestigious comedies of the streaming era is a pretty clear reminder that we haven’t realized even a small fraction of the unique potential of streaming.