Netflix to ‘Save our Bluths’ with new season of ‘Arrested Development’

By Nick Mullen / Staff Writer

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“Taste the happy” “Arrested Development” fans, because producer Brian Grazer has confirmed on Bill Simmons’ B.S. Report podcast that the show would return for a 17-episode fifth season on the online streaming service, Netflix

However, many fans wonder if the recently announced fifth season will suffer from the problems of the fourth season, which was plagued by a poorly staffed cast due to scheduling issues. With the creation of a new season, it’s time to say goodbye to the days in which “Arrested Development” was a short-lived, underrated comedy that was canceled before its prime. It’s becoming clear to many fans and critics that “Arrested Development” wasn’t canceled before its prime, but during its prime. With new seasons, “Arrested Development” leaves the class of underrated and underappreciated shows that were canceled too soon, like “Freaks and Geeks,” “Firefly” and “Twin Peaks.” 

The show was canceled after three seasons due to poor ratings, which were likely because of the show’s reliance on inside jokes and character humor, which made it difficult for people to start watching the show who hadn’t seen previous episodes. After seeing the post-cancellation popularity of the show, Netflix produced a 10-episode fourth season, which reunited the “Arrested Development” cast, in 2013.

“Arrested Development” stars Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth, the son of a rich real estate developer, who is left to run the family business after his father is imprisoned for treason and fraud. Much of the show’s humor and conflict is derived from Michael’s relationship with his incredibly dysfunctional family members, who still want to live lavishly even after the family business is in jeopardy. The show is shot in a single-camera style and features omniscient narration from Ron Howard, who explains character history and inside jokes to the viewer.

Fans of the show regard “Arrested Development” as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, as the show serves as inspiration for many modern comedies including “Modern Family,” “30 Rock” and “Community.” “Arrested Development” ran on FOX from 2003 to 2006 before making its 2013 comeback on Netflix. 

Following its cancellation, the show gained a devoted cult following of fans who constantly made allusions to the inside jokes and quotes from the show. 

Though it was critically acclaimed, fans didn’t receive the fourth season nearly as well. From episodes that focused on one character instead of the ensemble cast that defined the show’s original run, to celebrities who guest-starred to fill the void of the sparse Bluth family, fans just didn’t like the show. Many fans also complained that it took viewing the entire season for the show to become funny, as it was presented in a non-linear fashion. While the original seasons of “Arrested Development” rewarded re-watching by making the show even funnier, the fourth season of “Arrested Development” almost required re-watching in order to be funny.

Assembling the entire original cast for all 13 episodes of the fourth season would have been nearly impossible for Netflix. Since the show ended its original run, many of the actors went on to successful and busy careers. Jason Bateman has since starred in popular movies, such as “Horrible Bosses” and its sequel, while Portia de Rossi, Michael’s sister Lindsay Bluth Fünke, now stars on the television series “Scandal.”

“Arrested Development” has been a huge hit for Netflix, and continues to draw viewers. The fourth season was one of Netflix’s first wildly successful forays into original programming. Since then, Netflix has produced smash hits, such as “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”

“Arrested Development” fans should be grateful that their pleas to “Save our Bluths” were heard by the show’s producers, who resurrected the show into one of the first Netflix-only productions. Even with the limited availability of cast members and complicated contractual obligations brought on by the fame and schedules of the actors in the original cast, the show is still going strong. While the show may lack some of the qualities that made its first run so great, talented producers still engineered “Arrested Development” with an incredible cast, and making another season may not be a “huge mistake.”

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