Before you can get your eyes on that long-awaited season 5 of Arrested Development, you will be presented with a new version of season 4.
On Tuesday, the official Arrested Development Twitter page posted an open letter to fans from series creator Mitch Hurwitz, who announced that this remix development will arrive on May 4, which he refers to as the “premature holiday the Bluth family know as Cinco de Cuatro.” Released back in 2013, each of season 4’s 15 episodes focused on an individual character and “experimented with a Rashomon-style of storytelling,” noted Hurwitz. The new version, titled Arrested Development Season 4 Remix: Fateful Consequences, reimagines season 4 as a 22-episode adventure with interwoven storylines, much like the original three seasons of the hyper-dysfunctional family comedy, which aired on Fox from 2003-06.
“The goal was that by the end of the season, a unified story of cause and effect would emerge for the viewer — full of surprises about how the Bluths were responsible for most of the misery they had endured,” explained Hurwitz of season 4. “In some ways to be an experience for that viewer, perhaps, akin to eating toast, then some bacon— maybe a sliced tomato followed by some turkey, and realizing, ‘Hey, I think I just had a BLT.’ But in between season 4 and this upcoming season 5, I had time to take that Rashomon-type story and recut it — shuffling the content from 15 individualized stories into 22 interwoven stories the length of the original series — as an experiment to find out, well… I guess ‘if I could make some money.’ I mean, who am I kidding, I want this thing to syndicate eventually.”
Hurwitz said that he also “pursued it as a comedic experiment to see if new jokes and a new perspective would emerge from a remix that features all the Bluths in every episode, and where the simultaneity of the story plays out chronologically. And I’m really excited about the final result. It’s funny in a whole new way, and I believe it creates a really entertaining and hilarious new experience for the ‘viewer.'”
You could argue that this remix of season 4 has also been highly anticipated. Hurwitz revealed that he had all but finished the project in 2016, noting that executive producer Ron Howard, who also serves as the show’s narrator, had recorded fresh voiceovers for the new version.
One of the primary reasons that each episode of season 4 focused on a particular character was because actors’ availabilities were limited, given their commitments to other shows. The lack of group scenes led to some disappointment from fans, who wanted to see more of the Bluth family interacting. In an interview last year, star Jason Bateman explained how Hurwitz “had to pivot a bit off” the actors’ schedule constraints to execute his mission. “[A]lso it was an interesting thing for him to do because he was embracing the interface of Netflix, which was fairly new at the time in original programming, and wanted to be able to basically have you click out of one episode and click into somebody else’s episode and see a different viewpoint on this simultaneous action,” continued Bateman. “Ultimately, editorially, it didn’t really come together as well as he wanted it to, and then he had to dictate an order of watching, and it ended up being a little bit more complicated than I think one intended. But we’re still very proud of those episodes obviously — and really excited that we get to be together in these [new episodes for season 5].”
Season 5, which involves a murder mystery surrounding the death of Lucille 2 (Liza Minnelli), will feature more scenes with cast members together, according to Bateman. And when will this season finally see the light of the day? Hurwitz mentioned in the open letter that it will be arriving on Netflix “soon. Like real soon. Like, if you knew when, you would not be wrong to be thinking ‘why are we all just hearing this now?'”
Read the full letter below.