Arrested Development is returning for a fifth season on Netflix, and in the build-up to this, Mitch Hurwitz and his team have taken the controversial fourth season and re-edited it into 22-minute chunks with multiple running storylines, akin to the show’s beloved first three seasons. Subtitled ‘Fateful Consequences’, and with new Ron Howard narration, and some additional visual beats, we see the story of The Bluth Family after a messy series of events that have split them all up and sent them on various adventures that intertwine in inspired ways.
The original 15-episode run often took too much time to tell stories, feeling like there was too much and yet not enough of it interesting to sustain its runtime, especially as each episode spotlighted a character or two, rather than the whole ensemble. Here, we get more characters at once, and we can bounce around stories with greater efficiency, and, when we get bored of a story, we’re off to the next adventure. Of course, ultimately, it’s attempting to polish a product that is inherently flawed, but in the guise of traditional broadcast TV, with the shorter runtimes, the ad-break beats, the show at least flies by. Oftentimes, an episode is over before you know it (in some cases half an episode is one scene because of how much material the show shot in certain story beats, which is quite crazy).
The shorter format helps remind us of the intricacies each actor has brought to their characters over the years. Tony Hale’s Buster and David Cross’ Tobias were always lauded, but Jessica Walter’s Lucille, Alia Shawkat’s Maebe and Michael Cera’s George-Michael really evolve in vastly enjoyable ways – little asides here, just eye-glances over there, and, in short bursts, they become highlights of an episode rather than an acting touch amid a raging war of pace, story, and moderation.
As we grab our four leaf clovers and rabbits’ feet in the hopes that Season 5 manages to capture Arrested Development’s earlier magic, Season 4’s remix makes for lighter nibbles of intensely scripted, funny, weird watching, compared to the heavy 40-minute chunks of the original Season 4. Take heed of the Oscar/George Snr. storyline, which felt like dead weight on the original cut but now rolls out smoothly over the entire season. – a more natural fit, and real kudos to the team for making something so experimental fit into perfect cupcake sizes after all these years.
Arrested Development Season 4: The Remix is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.