Arrested Development fans rejoice, for it seems that Imagine Entertainment and Netflix have finally found that extra money in the banana stand – making season 5 almost a done deal. The streaming platform confirmed its commitment to the series almost immediately after the long awaited fourth season debuted on its service in May 2013, and creator Mitch Hurwitz has repeatedly hinted at the direction he’s taking with scripts for further episodes – but recent comments from Brian Grazer at the Television Critics Association are the closest thing we have had to confirmation that the Bluths are coming back.
“We are close. I think we found a way to create the compensation structure for all the actors and create a work matrix so they can still make movies and do other things and it will all integrate. So we are really close — I think within a couple of weeks at the most.”
This has long been the main obstacle for Arrested Development – which chronicles the fluctuating and hilarious fortunes of the Bluth family, whose level-headed son Michael (Jason Bateman) takes over the family business when his father George (Jeffrey Tambor) is imprisoned. Despite constantly seeming to struggle for ratings, the original, award-winning show ran for three seasons, from 2003 to 2006, and starred Bateman, Tambor, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, and Jessica Walter. It created a loyal, devoted fanbase, and consequently launched the careers of the cast into the stratosphere – making it very difficult to reunite them for new seasons.
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This, coupled with a move to the much more flexible format of Netflix, meant that season 4 of Arrested Development was quite different. With seven years having elapsed since its season 3 finale, season 4 managed the cast scheduling issues by having the Bluth family members scattered across vastly different locations – each involved in their own lives, before being dragged back into the family business in one way or another. Moments that involved the entire family being together were very limited, with the show instead featuring different combinations of fewer characters in each episode.
The latest comments made by Brian Grazer would suggest that season 5 will take a similar approach – although Mitch Hurwitz has said that he intends to shift the story arc from family business to a murder mystery, because a beloved supporting character met a terrible fate at the end of season 4. Undoubtedly, fans of the show will be hoping that Hurwitz will continue to include in his scripts his signature, thinly veiled allusions to political matters, as well as the murder-mystery tone, however – not least because the 2013 fourth season centred on George Bluth’s misguided and corrupt desire to “build a wall” along the US-Mexico border.
Arrested Development always was ahead of its time but, thanks to Netflix, a wider audience has been able to immerse themselves in the collective tales of the Bluth family in more recent years. The fact that the creative team behind the show, and the cast that made it their own remain committed to a Bluth family reunion is testament to the passion that goes into this project – and that’s something that makes the upcoming fifth season a very exciting prospect indeed.