It’s been seven years since Fox canceled the Emmy-winning comedy series Arrested Development.
Its fan base might have been small, but it has remained vocal. Fans of the series, about the dysfunctional Bluth family, have called for another season or a feature film.
They’re finally getting their wish: A fourth season of Arrested Development is available Sunday through the online subscription service Netflix.
The new episodes pick up the Bluth family several years after events of the third season.
Making the 15 new episodes wasn’t easy. Most of the cast — Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett, David Cross, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor — have gone on to do other TV and film projects. Because the entire gang couldn’t be wrangled at one time, each episode tells the story from a different character’s point of view.
Shooting the shows was almost as complicated as juggling the schedules of the cast members. It was imperative the scripts be finalized because the stories intersect and those crossover scenes had to be shot when the cast members were available.
“We started writing the shows in order and then very quickly had to jump to ‘oh, we got Tony Hale today and Jessica, we got to jump and write that stuff that’s in Jessica’s show.’ Fortunately, we knew the story, but it was challenging,” executive producer Mitch Hurwitz says.
Because the episodes all will be available at the same time, viewers can jump from the viewpoint of one character to another to make the 15 shows feel more like a 700-minute Arrested Development episode.
But just because Netflix subscribers can bounce between episodes doesn’t mean they should. There’s an order the creators intended for them to be seen, allowing viewers to discover in conversations, actions and moments in later episodes what had been started in earlier shows.
Cast and crew are proud they were able to make the additional episodes for all the loyal fans. But Bateman cautions fans not to hold up these episodes to the original series.
“If one was to be fair to these episodes, you cannot and should not hopefully compare them to what the series was where you had 22 minutes and you had all the characters in every single episode,” Bateman says. “This is something that is completely different, on purpose creatively per the format that Netflix affords us, per the long term and larger long form of the whole story.”