At the point when FOX finally canceled Arrested Development, its ratings were pretty bad. In the Nielson cycle that sealed its fate, the doomed comedy lost out to long forgotten quality programs like Skating with Celebrities and Apprentice: Martha Stewart. There has never been a program quite like Arrested Development. It can be difficult explain the show’s multi-camera mock-umentary style. The jokes are subtle just as often as they are completely overt. Arrested did the heavy lifting for several more successful shows that followed 30 Rock, Community, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have benefited from the game changer that no one watched.
Something interesting happened, however, when Arrested Development was released on DVD; the infinitely rewatchable series developed a massive following. The new lovers of the show found each other online and created a community that brought relevance back to the dysfunctional Orange County family and their off color antics.
Arrested Development, the last four episodes of which FOX aired back to back on a Friday night in February, launched the careers of several cast members while rejuvenating those of others. So when Netflix agreed to produce 15 new episodes of the series ahead of a feature film due out next year, coordinating the schedules of Michael Cera, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman became pretty difficult.
Getting the nine actors who portray the main characters together in one location was often impossible. This posed quite a problem for writer/series’ creator Mitch Hurwitz. The solution was a combination of creative writing and modern technology. The episodes of the fourth season of this ensemble comedy are written to focus on just one character. Green screen is utilized to bring some of the other main characters into subplots within them. Some of the actors only shared the screen in one episode yet appear together often throughout the run.
Despite losing seven years, Arrested Development has not lost a step. The unfolding serialized comedic scenarios that run through this entire season are just as uproarious as in previous seasons. The inside jokes are supplemented with new ones. Fantastic in this season is the role of actor/director/narrator Ron Howard. Though serving as narrator since the show began, Howard appears in several episodes and plays a hilarious parody of himself. Howard pokes fun at his acting past, baldness and early projects (Fantastic Four anyone?)
The show has a good time with itself and its unsuccessful past. It’s a great way to blow 7.5 hours. Or 15 if you have already watched it twice… Like I have.