Does the Arrested Development Season 4 remix work?


Mitch Hurwitz ambitious remix of Arrested Development Season 4 is a noticeable improvement over its predecessor.

Arrested Development has long been one of my favorite TV shows. It’s mixture of oddball characters and quick-witted writing has made the show a cult favorite long sense its original airing over a decade ago. While the first three seasons were all on cable, Season 4 was the first season to be produced by Netflix.

The results were less than stellar. Season 4 felt like far more of a mixed bag than its predecessors, with its new format of standalone character episodes bringing more problems than solutions. Pacing in every episode was a major problem, as the nearly-40-minute length per episode became a chore to get through. Not only that, but many of the character’s arc were not strong enough to stand on their own.

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With Season 5 coming soon to Netflix, series creator Mitch Hurwitz decided to surprise fans and release a “remix” version of Season 4. This widely unique and ambitious project finds Hurwitz cutting together a completely new version of the season, with the most notable change being a move to ensemble-based episodes.

The good news, this massive reshaping actually does improve some of Season 4’s most notable problems. The reduced length per episode is much preferred for binge watching, as I watched the 22-episode season in 3 days compared to the weeks it took me to finish the original Season 4. I give Hurwitz a lot of credit for just how cohesive each episode is despite being the byproduct of many different episodes.

The content itself also works much better in its new package. While I admire what the original season tried to do with its mystery-based narrative, this remix does help a lot of the weaker subplots that couldn’t stand on their own (especially the Lindsay subplot). On the other hand, the season’s strongest subplots are still just as irreverent as they were, with my personal favorite still being Gob’s hilariously misguided effort to get revenge on his sort-of-rival Tony Wonder.

Arrested Development. Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor Photo: Sam Urdank/Netflix Acquired from Netflix Media Center
Arrested Development. Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor Photo: Sam Urdank/Netflix Acquired from Netflix Media Center /

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A remix however can only fix so much. While each episode has shadings of classic Arrested Development writing, a lot of the experimental ideas tried with Season 4 (especially the flashbacks) still don’t quite work. Season 4 and its remix is the definition of hit-or-miss, as each uproarious moment is often followed by an interesting idea that isn’t quite executed properly. The remix concept also isn’t quite perfect, as each episode features far too much backtracking and re-explaining of plot points that were featured as recently as the past episode.

Season 4 may still be a far cry from Arrested Development’s prime, but it’s remix is a worthy improvement over its original set-up. I give Hurwitz a lot of credit for experimenting with his previous work, and I am curious to see if other showrunners follow suit.

Arrested Development Season 4 Remix is available on Netflix