By Craig Mannino
In 2006, the supposed final episode of Ron Howard’s “Arrested Development” aired, ending a show before it could really begin. Before its cancellation, “Arrested Development” aired three seasons, beginning in 2003, that blew audience’s expectations out of the water. The program included witty writing, clever humor, and a format that seemed made to be binged. However, there was one problem: Netflix, the series’ current home, was nonexistent until 2007, making binging the show impossible on network TV. Many believe this to be one of the main reasons for the program’s early cancellation, disappointing the show’s dedicated fan base.
From 2003-2006, “Arrested Development” immediately set itself apart from its competition by using a narrator to relay information to the audience. Although it may sound relatively unimpressive, this technique actually expanded the scope and comedic possibilities of the show and helped it stand out from its competition.
Seasons 1-3, aka “The Good Ones,” center around the Bluth Family, owners of, get this, the Bluth Company. The first episode premiered on November 2, 2003, and it centered around The Bluth Company’s retirement party for George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), who just so happens to be the CEO of the company, and Michael Bluth’s (Jason Bateman) father. After the boat party commences and George Sr. finishes his retirement speech, the boat is raided by the SEC, landing George Sr. in prison. The rest of the show’s first three seasons center around the rest of the Bluth family as their exploits, ranging from training to join the blue man group to someone’s hand being bitten off by a loose seal, are casually recounted by the narrator, Ron Howard.
Although the show has the ingenious ability to blend countless plot lines into one, ending every episode like a nicely wrapped present, the show’s main focus is comedy, and it does an incredible job at it, resulting in countless jokes that almost never miss their target.
However, despite the above average viewership and dedicated fan base, the show was cancelled after the finale of its third season.
For any other show, the story would have ended there, a niche program with a very, very, very small cult following slowly fading into obscurity. But, as you probably predicted, being that this isn’t the end of the article, the show gained traction after its addition to Netflix, and when Netflix pitched the idea of a fourth season, everyone was on board and ready to continue the project in a new, creative way.
But here’s the thing: rather than continuing the project in a new, creative way, Season 4 was a jumbled mess of plotlines that made no sense to viewers. Granted, Season 4 ‘remix’ was later released and fixed some of the problems; however, with its release, new problems emerged like five times the narration and twice the amount of episodes with half of the plot of any other season. Season 5 was a slight improvement but was split in two to make the show eligible to win an Emmy, which it didn’t, leaving the second half of Season 5 to be added to Netflix at a later date.
Why was season 4 so bad? Well, the original cut was rushed and released when it was barely put together, and it was way too complex for most people to understand. Upon hearing these complaints, Howard chose to release “Arrested Development Season 4: Remix,” a, get this, remix of Season 4 that rearranged everything to make the season actually comprehensible. After the season’s final cut was edited, the narration took approximately 8 out of the 20 minutes of most episodes opposed to the original season’s 2-3 minutes. Season 4 ultimately felt like a rushed mess that could barely stand on its own two feet and needed the support of a complete re-edit in the form of Season 4: Remix to make a halfway comprehensible product that still barely holds a candle to the first three seasons.
Due to the show’s less than phenomenal 4th season, the 5th season had to go above and beyond what the original seasons did to keep the show afloat, and although it certainly was better than Season 4, Season 5 is plagued with its own problems. For one, the season was split in half; the first 8 episodes released in March of 2018 and the last 8 to be released sometime throughout the year. As of February 2019, no information has been released about the second half. Season 5, like season 4, includes a convoluted plot that goes in too many directions without the extra narration to keep it decipherable, separate misadventures for each character that get very confusing, and lazily written conclusions that combine all of the plots.
Although “Arrested Development” originally premiered in 2003 and was hailed as one of the best shows of its time, setting the bar high for comedy shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The Office,” and “Parks and Recreation,” its revival was way below par. “Arrested Development” is best enjoyed by watching the first three seasons and pretending as if the other two never existed.