For 3 brief years I got to enjoy what I still consider the best sitcom of all time. As you would imagine, giddiness took over me when rumors of its return via Netflix were rumored. And as I sat there, glued to my screen absorbing every minute of Bluth phenomena, I could say with full resolve that I absolutely loved Season 4 of Arrested Development. A lot of people felt differently. Where fans saw a refreshing but still brilliant approach to portrayal of the loving but highly dysfunctional family, critics saw an unwelcome, disjointed mess, that befouled a near-perfect formula of comedy and ultimately fell flat. A triumphant swing-and-a-miss, if you will. It proved divisive enough that plans for a 5th season became questionable and the creator decided to see if he could improve the telling of the narrative without sacrificing the core.
So Mitch Hurwitz, the brains behind Arrested Development, set up a daunting task of cutting up all of the season 4 episodes and piecing the entire thing back together in an order that would make the story more fluid. So what are the main differences? The original 15 episodes run between 31 – 38 minutes, with each focusing on specific main characters as the story is retold over and over from their perspectives and experiences. The new cut is 22 episodes long, with each being about 22 minutes long, and has all the characters in each episode with the story progressing chronologically. It all starts off with the death of Lucille 2 (Liza Minnelli) and goes from there.
The narrative is not the same, it’s not about one character. It was about finding thematic connections. -Mitch Hurwitz
Besides the negative feedback received, Hurwitz also mentioned that the edits had to happen anyway for the season to become useful for syndication purposes. Without his input, networks would have chopped up the show to fit their own time requirements, surely making a huge mess of the entire thing.
So I did this very ambitious thing where I made these Excel sheets with every single scene and how long it was in seconds. I put them all on magnetic paper, cut them up into squares, and that sat there and moved the pieces around. And then we made a narrative out of it. It was a crazy experiment! It took a huge amount of time. The editing was not as hard as the planning of it, and moving these pieces around. -Mitch Hurwitz
There are no specific plans to release the re-cut season yet, but Hurwitz is hoping to push it out either right before, along with, or right after Season 5. And yes, although there is still some work to be done, there will be a Season 5.