After almost five years of waiting, fans of the Fox semi-hit turned massive cult phenomena Arrested Development were finally validated for their years of wishing. Countless blogs from nearly every pop culture outlet have begged for the return of the sitcom, now counted among the best in history, and for the first time have received some validation. Last week several members of the cast and crew let it slip that not only would the long-anticipated Arrested Development movie be released, but a fourth season (on a network that has yet to be decided) will preclude the release of the film.
Mitchell Hurwitz, the creator of Arrested Development, is widely believed to be somewhat of a “mad genius” when it comes to writing and showrunning. Hardcore AD viewers and cast members often rally behind Hurwitz’s mysterious brilliance, but what’s to stop fans from thinking that in a post-AD world - a world that’s given Hurwitz plenty of chances to re-do Arrested Development - how can he return to the heights he achieved once before?
The short of it is, that without his now legendary cast of characters and corners to cut, Hurwitz is struggling from too much freedom. Even Running Wilde, in its trivial run, still had a touch of madness to it, albeit too little to sustain the show. The second Hurwitz is thrown back into a hole that’s too deep to escape from, the madness will return. So long as Hurwitz has no idea where he’s going - Arrested Development will still be great.
For most fans, just the thought of getting to see Jason Bateman, David Cross, and everyone else (there is seriously not one dud in the entire cast) return to the screen is enough of a driving force for the show’s triumphant return. Arrested Development has proven over the course of the last five years that it doesn’t deserve to be filed away as a cautionary tale, it deserves a proper ending. An ending that only Mitch Hurwitz and the cast have the ability to deliver.
With all the influence it’s had over the sitcom genre (30 Rock, Community, and Party Down are three examples of shows directly influenced by AD) fans are certainly aching for a glamorous return. Somewhat in the vein of Futurama’s ludicrously tongue-in-cheek post-hiatus return to regular programming, we’re certainly expecting some subtle-but-not-really jabs at FOX. Comebacks are rarely done well, but Hurwitz is certainly jaded enough to have spent the last however many years cooking up how he’s going to rub the big wigs nose in it.
Yet, in the digital age, over-hyping could easily hamper any anticipated event. The funny thing about it is the premiere is, is that it may actually be the first time a large portion - maybe even a majority of viewers - get to watch episodes in the standard week-to-week format. The cult following built online and through the DVDs are some of their strongest and most outspoken fans; fans who probably didn’t catch them during the original run. It’s this big machine that just keeps feeding itself and producing more and more fans and more and more interest in the upcoming (finger’s crossed?) debut.
Watching the Bluth family became an addiction for fans, so the tendency for hyperbole is apt, as is the need to critique everything we see. To be able to watch them in a serialized manner rather than week-to-week definitely rewards the viewer, as it is often hard to immerse yourself fully into the rhythm of AD until well into an episode, even without commercials. The idea of only watching episodes one at a time, especially since today’s fans likely saw them for the first time via DVD box sets or repeated online viewing, seems miserable. An Arrested Development watch party leading up to the premiere may be ideal for the fans to be in the correct mindset for the fresh batch of episodes.
Arrested Development’s influence on the modern day was both overt and subtle. The blogosphere never misses a chance to tout the series’ incredible cleverness and ruthless wit, as well as trudge through the “cancelled before its time” mud. Fans of Arrested Development have never allowed it to fade from memory. The show earned a firm place among the lexicon of millions of deeply committed fanboys, on whose strength and resilience the show has finally found new life. Hulu, Netflix, Twitter, blogs the world over, fan pages and watch parties have given the show a depth and meaning that became so far-reaching that it has come full circle. The tension has built so much that is has finally snapped. Ten episodes and a movie to close of one of the most inescapable chapters in American pop culture.
By Mitch McCann and Greg Bright