24 hours after the release of Arrested Development season 4 on Netflix, many fans were already clambering for details on possible future adventures of the Bluth family. On Sunday, Twitter was full of Arrested Development viewers burning through the 15 episodes offered in the initial Netflix season - following the show's seven year hiatus after FOX cancelled the series in 2006. In general, enormous pre-release buzz and undoubtedly high expectations, along with a complicated branching storyline, resulted in a somewhat mixed reaction to the early episodes. However, most viewers agree that the season eventually hits its stride and culminates in an especially fun set of chapters near the end (as all of the various storyline connections are revealed).
As a result, despite some underwhelming reviews (along with plenty of positive ones), it sounds as though most viewers would be interested in more Arrested Development - on the big screen, streaming on Netflix, or both. So, what is the status of a possible season 5 of Arrested Development? According to a new interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, the online service is definitely interested but, in the end, it will up to the "talent."
Speaking with CNBC, Hastings asserted that response to the episodes has been "huge" - leading to the question of whether or not he'd be pushing for another batch of episodes. According to Hastings, Arrested Development production is more complicated than some of the service's other in-house productions (such as House of Cards):
"‘Arrested’ is unique, because [whether or not the show returns for future seasons is] really up to the talent. If the talent were willing to do more, and interested in that, I”m sure we would be willing.”
You can check out the full interview with the Netflix CEO below:
The quote backs-up previous sentiments by Hastings which suggested that the online service has "a deal in place" that would allow for future seasons of the series - even though there is no official contract for season 5. Essentially, the deal would likely give Netflix first crack at producing another season (or two or three) - if the filmmakers and actors were interested in revisiting the characters again. Currently, none of the "talent" is obligated to return for another round of the show (or a film) and, as Hastings said in a previous interview, "They did it for the love of the show and for Mitch Hurwitz. If we can muster up that love again, we’d love to do it again.”
It's unclear whether or not the Arrested Development cast and crew would even want another season of the show - since the majority of them are busy with their own sitcoms, movie appearances, and other projects. Pulling the entire cast together for season 4 was a very challenging undertaking - resulting in the season's divisive interweaving storyline approach (i.e. it was hard to get all the cast members in the same place for a significant amount of time). Instead, Hurwitz focused on solo stories that inter-cut with other characters.
Instead the oft-referenced Arrested Development feature film would likely be easier to pull-off - given that it would require significantly less footage (2 hours of screen time verses roughly 8-10 hours) - and could serve as a fun final send-off for the characters. After all, the initial plan was for season 4 to serve as a lead-in for the film - would a successful season on Netflix be enough reason to bump back the movie and try to coordinate another batch of episodes? Maybe, maybe not. As stated, filming the most recent season was very complicated - resulting in some of the more in-demand members of the cast jumping back and forth between other projects and the Arrested Development set. It'd be a shame if the cast and filmmakers suffered burn-out and simply returned out of obligation to fans - not excitement or inspiration.
Of course, it's also very early in the process of analyzing Arrested Development season 4 "ratings." While die-hard fans that have blown-through the episodes certainly help inform whether or not a movie or future seasons will happen, Netflix doesn't assess their shows based on one week's worth of streaming. Instead, they look at annual reports to determine the performance of original programming.
Here's how Hastings explains the situation:
"The reason we’re not doing ratings is because we really want to focus over the first year Netflix is about being able to watch when you want, not having to watch at a certain time like linear TV is. So we’re really not focused on the Day One ratings, it’s really over the first year."
Ultimately, it's hard to imagine that ratings for the show will underperform in the long-run - especially as fans go back and rewatch the season and recommend it more reluctant viewers. According to Procera Networks [via a report at Variety], "36% of all devices connected to Netflix via one unspecified DSL network on Sunday were streaming at least part of one episode of the show." Given the size of the Netflix user base, that's a pretty telling number. Even if a good chunk of the streamers were turned off by the initial episodes, it's probable that they'll return to the show at some point in the next year.
Assuming these viewers experience the same positive response to the new batch of episodes, after completing the entire season, there's little doubt that a huge portion of Netflix subscribers will be left hankering for more Arrested Development.
How would you prefer the filmmakers and cast fill that void? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll below:
Arrested Development season 4 is currently available to stream on Netflix.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Arrested Development as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.