Oh, come on! Regarded fondly as one of the best sitcoms ever made, Arrested Development is a show that has been treated disproportionately to its quality. The Easter Egg rich, gag-a-minute tale of the Bluth family is one of the funniest things on TV, yet a low viewership resulted in a long and unfortunate hiatus.
After three award winning seasons between November 2003 and February 2006, it took seven whole years of nothingness before Season 4 of the comedy was picked up by streaming service Netflix. Constant speculation for Season 5 has followed, but production is still in limbo.
"Everybody Is Game"
Will Arnett, who plays the arrogant yet flamboyantly affable Gob in the show, recently expressed his frustration at the delay. Talking to The Wrap, he confirmed there was still an element of indecision with the show. In short, when discussing the possibility of Season 5, he said:
“My answer is: I don’t f*cking know. I know that everybody is game to do it. We all love doing it.”
Arrested Development is, unfortunately, in delayed development. Fans naturally want more of the show, and who wouldn't; the eccentric set of characters make up one of the finest ensemble casts in TV show history. But before we shout from the rooftops, and demand another season, would a fifth season be a huge mistake? Well, Maebe.
Why Was The Original Run So Successful?
The original run of Mitchell Hurwitz's show, which ran on Fox, introduced some of the finest comedy characters of all time. Michael Bluth's suffocating but ultimately well intentioned relationship with his son, George Michael, underpinned the narrative. But the rest of the cast all brough a unique hilarity to the show.
It's impossible to choose a standout character. Never-nude Tobias' delusional aspiration to become an actor, plus the not-so-subtle subtext if his latent homosexuality, provides memorable quote after memorable quote. Gob, a failed magician with a facade of arrogance is a joy to watch. Buster, with his crippling self-doubt and mother issues, is excruciating and hilarious. Not to mention Lucille, Lindsay and George Snr.
As entertaining as the individuals are, it was the chemistry between the interconnected relationships — generally glued together by the ever exasperated Michael — that really makes the show great. As flawed as they are, there is an element of sweetness to the family.
Scheduling Conflicts In Season 4
The importance of the cast being able to bounce of each other, and build the kind of chemistry capable of carry the unrelenting humor forward, was lost with Season 4. Due to the original run's success, many of the cast were in demand by the time 2013 came around, which caused problems with scheduling.
It was rare for the actors to film together, with producers often using green-screen and heavy editing to mix multiple characters to certain scenes. This was unfortunately evident in the final product, which Hurwitz attempted to navigate by focusing on individual characters throughout the first half of the show.
Although brave, Season 4 relied on eventually tying these loose ends together to form the final punchline. Although a brave decision to try something new, the overall sense of the show fell flat, unable to recapture the heights of the earlier seasons. That's not to say there weren't still standout moments, such as Gob's huge mistake:
More of the Bluth family is more than welcome, but there are a few lessons Hurwitz will hopefully have gleaned from the reception to Season 4. In anticipation, let's take a look at some of the things we'd like tweaked for the next season:
1. The Cast Need To Be Together
This one may seem obvious, but Season 4 went ahead despite scheduling conflicts, and the likes of Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Michael Cera are still in high demand. Well, here's the good news; Tony Hale, who plays Buster on the show, confirmed producers were aiming to get the entire ensemble together.
2. Embrace New Media, But Don't Be Bound By It
As well as production issues, Season 4 of Arrested Development was clearly tailored to a modern, binge-watching audience. All 15 episodes were made available, right away, with the assumption being most would devour 20 minutes quicker than a frozen banana on a hot day.
The result was a season which accelerated and decelerated rapidly, choking along like a car in need of a service before whizzing off at 100km/h in the home straight, safe in the knowledge fans would be patient enough to stay firmly planted in the passenger seat for the entire journey.
3. Embrace The Cult, But Don't Bow To It
There's a solid reason that Arrested Development is so popular; as well as obvious gags, recurring catchphrases and Teamocil, the level of foreshadowing and hidden Easter Eggs means repeat viewings often make the show richer rather than repetitive.
Season 4 did the right thing by acknowledging the seeds of humor that true fans had been craving, but did so at the cost of missing out on new opportunities. Of course, the show was always going to be fan service, but Season 5 would do well to also reach out to a new audience by including the kind of gags that the first three seasons had in abundance.
4. Appreciate The Character's Stengths And Weaknesses
As much as I love Lindsay, she rarely steals scenes alone. As much as I find George Snr. hilarious, his funniest moments are generally when he interacts with the rest of his family. Some characters stand alone, and some don't, but that's fine. Season 4 highlighted this even more so with it's individual focus.
In Season 5, the show would benefit from focusing on exactly what makes those characters tick, and play on those relationships and situations, rather than individuals.
5. Lighten The Tone
Arrested Development is fun. It's the show that made Buster losing a hand tragically hilarious through its use of unrelenting loose seal jokes and foreshadowing.
The most important thing for Season 5, or even a future film, is to maintain the tone that was slightly darker in Season 4. Even if that means less of a focus on a complex narrative and more focus on the surreal.