Arrested Development, Season 4 - Fateful Consequences
22 episodes, Netflix, May 3, 2018
When the beloved cult comedy series Arrested Development originally returned for a belated fourth season on Netflix in 2013 (after last airing on Fox in 2006), reviews were decent, though many critics felt that the fourth season failed to live up to the high standards set by the three Fox seasons. Critics felt that the new episodes were generally too long, and that the unusual structure—with each episode focusing mainly on one or two characters rather than the ensemble as a whole (which was dictated mainly by the unavailability of the actors at the time of filming), and with the entire story only coming into focus at the very end of the season—was an experiment that proved not entirely successful.
Five years later, creator Mitch Hurwitz has engaged in yet another experiment—one designed specifically to address those flaws. Hurwitz has "remixed" the entire season, drastically re-cutting the Season 4 footage into 22 "new" episodes that better integrate the various characters and storylines. (There's little if any new footage, but there is a lot of new narration, recently recorded by Ron Howard.) This new version of Season 4, dubbed "Fateful Consequences," is now streaming on Netflix. We have collected reviews and impressions for this remixed season below. (Note that scores are displayed only in the few cases where a reviewer has specifically indicated a score.)
Note that the original 15 episodes of Season 4 still exist on Netflix, though they are hidden in the "Trailers & More" section. The show's brand-new fifth season streams on May 29.
Extremely positive reviews
Season 4 is better with this re-worked format. Not astoundingly so, but the fixing of the format does improve the over-arching tone and humor. ... But the re-formatting can't erase every problem that plagued it.
Flaws and all, the remix is just more fun than the original. ... There’s more wrong with Season 4 than can be corrected in post, so it’s unreasonable to expect the remix to magically fix everything. But it could save Season 5. What’s improved here bodes well for future episodes.
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.
The sheer amount of effort that went into crafting this remix is impressive, though it feels like the essential idea here was stapling several different subplots together with new Ron Howard narration.
Set the Tape
Whether you think it’s an improvement probably depends on how much you loved or hated the original season four release. Overall, ‘Fateful Consequences’ is certainly an interesting experiment, but not a successful one, and is likely to leave many fans saying “I don’t want these”.
The spark of Arrested was often in the chemistry between the entire ridiculous cast reacting off each other. The new structure can't make that happen magically ... However, the remix isn't for nothing. The pacing of the new episodes ... is far better. They are zippier and far easier to binge-watch than the original.
Birth. Movies. Death.
The season, while much improved, still doesn’t work. ... For a show that so richly rewarded sharp-eyed audiences with sly callback jokes, Fateful Consequences’ desperate attempts to hold your hand through the storytelling feels unnecessary before growing outright obnoxious. ... But more than anything, Fateful Consequences lays bare the fact that season four just doesn’t work.
Den of Geek
While this recut fixes some problems, it’s still hardly a fun time.
It is terrible. ... The remix suffers from an aggressive amount of narration. It might as well just be a Ron Howard audiobook. ... Mitch Hurwitz tore apart a great season of television simply because viewers didn’t like it. Now we’re stuck with a misshapen garbage heap of comedy remnants.
Some of it is successful. As was the case with the original cut of season four, things pick up closer to the end, when more characters’ stories directly impact one another. For too much of the season, though, the reedit does little to address the problems of the original. ... And yet, the biggest surprise of the Arrested Development remix is how little it seems to matter.
What do you think?
Have you watched the remixed version of Season 4? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.