And Now the Story…
On November 2, 2003, the groundbreaking sitcom Arrested Development premiered on the Fox television network, introducing us to the narcissistic and overprivileged Bluth family and the seemingly normal son Michael Bluth (played by former child star Jason Bateman)
Despite gaining critical acclaim and winning six Emmys, Arrested Development struggled to find an audience on Fox. It was canceled after three seasons, with the last four episodes being unceremoniously aired against the Olympics on February 10, 2006.
After what many fans viewed as an unjust cancellation, the show became somewhat of a cult classic due to DVDs and the rise of streaming, and there were even rumors of a potential movie revival.
Unfortunately, the movie never came to fruition. Instead, Netflix commissioned a 15-episode season 4 which premiered on May 26, 2013, nearly seven years after the show left Fox and almost a decade after its initial debut.
Despite immense fan excitement, Season 4 was met with very mixed reviews. Because of scheduling conflicts due to the cast members blowing up in popularity after the initial cancellation, season 4 eschewed the original format of the show in favor of telling a non-linear story, with each episode focusing on just one main character instead of the whole ensemble with only Michael appearing in all the episodes and the entire cast only being in one seen together. Because of being on Netflix, the episodes were also allowed to run longer than the standard network 22 minutes, which may have made room for more stories or even jokes but slowed down the fast-paced humor Arrested Development had been known for in the first three seasons. Because of this new format, a lot of fans felt the show had lost its magic, and season 4 is viewed by most as the worst season of the show even after it was edited into a more traditional 22-episode season with short run times and a linear story almost five years later.
After the divisive Season 4, Arrested Development lay dormant for a while despite leaving some hanging threads at the end of the Netflix season until five years later (yet another long wait) in 2018 when a more traditional edit of Season 4 was released on May 4th, followed by the first eight episodes of Season 5 on May 29th. It promised a return to the first season form, with the cast being able to be in the same scenes and a more old-style linear timeline. The fifth season was concluded nearly a year later, with the last eight episodes on March 15, 2019.
Despite the strong effort, season 5 failed to recapture the magic of the first three seasons. With the death of Jessica Walter, who played Bluth matriarch Lucile Bluth, and allegations against Jeffrey Tambor, who played patriarch George Bluth Sr., as well as most of the other cast moving on, it looks as though we most likely will not be seeing any more of the Bluth family. But even as a diehard fan, I can admit that may be a good thing. At least we got three brilliant seasons and two okay seasons, which is more than some TV fans can say.
And the One Fan…
Personally, this writer has been a fan of Arrested Development since the beginning. I am not sure if it was from the beginning, but I must have watched at least a few episodes of season 1 when it initially aired. My love affair with Arrested Development began when I saw a DVD of Season 1 at my local Hastings store (a sadly now-defunct video store franchise) and bought it on a whim. I found the show at just the right time, that awkward transition into middle school. I remember staying up until 2 am during the summer, watching and rewatching episodes. I am not sure what exactly drew me to it: the fast-paced jokes, the great characters, or maybe the fact the Bluth owned a Banana Stand, which mirrored the fact my family owned a hot dog stand in real life. Whatever it was, I was hooked, and like many fans, I was disappointed when Fox canceled it.
Like most fans, I kept my love of Arrested Development alive by rewatching the whole first three seasons multiple times and writing about it on my blog. When rumors began swirling about a movie, I even took it upon myself to write a screenplay for one. It did not lead me anywhere, although I did do a table read of it with some friends years later.
When season 4 was announced, I was undoubtedly excited and stayed up all night to get the chance to watch it, making myself sick by chugging Mountain Dew and eating too many ice cream sandwiches.
I understand the flack season 4 gets, and while I do not like it as much as the first three seasons, I do appreciate the different approach they tried to take, even though the execution was not the best.
When season 5 was announced, I was excited once again and stayed up all night to catch the first eight episodes, something I did not quite manage for the final eight episodes a year later.
I am content with season 5 being the last we see of the Bluth family. It offered a somewhat satisfying conclusion with no real loose ends (or seals) to tie up, and after 20 years, maybe it’s time for a logical conclusion to the saga of Michael Bluth and his family.
That is not to say I am not keeping my fandom alive. I don’t rewatch the show as much as I used to, but I still pop in the old DVDs when I feel in the mood and reference it quite often in my standup act. I even started an Arrested Development-themed cooking show.
It was Arrested Development…
With anything you love, there is a tendency always to want more, and while I would be the first in line for a movie or even to watch another season of Arrested Development. For now, I’m just glad it’s been a decent two decades of my favorite show of all time.