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Notes from Arrested Development's Season 4 Press Conference: In Mitch We Trust


After spending an hour listening to the cast of Arrested Development at Netflix's official press conference for the new season, three things are very apparent: 

1.) They all missed doing the show

2.) Mitch Hurwitz is the Second Coming

3.) This Netflix series isn't necessarily the last you've heard from any of them.

In what is now recorded as television legend, Fox summarily deemed the show unpopular with the viewing public seven years ago, axing it after three seasons of critical acclaim, a small but cult-like fandom that promised its undying devotion, and lackluster network marketing support (the latter a tongue-in-cheek claim by the show's third season, in which they goofed on Family Guy promos overshadowing them). Arrested Development became another entry in a long line of shows that Fox is blamed for canceling too soon: Wonderfalls, Firefly, Terriers. Terriers was actually FX but close enough, right? You can sub in The Chicago Code if you disagree.

Arrested Development went on to become a martyr for "quality" television while Fox earned a reputation as the network that destroys all that is good in this world. Recent years have been marked with rumors of an AD movie, but nothing concrete has emerged outside of Hurwitz or Will Arnett or someone close to the AD fantasy players leaking information to the tune of, "No, seriously, we're going to work on it right after the planets align and the moon separates into curds and I can 3-D-print a real puppy."

But now that we have unconventional players in the television landscape inserting themselves into the resurrrection after-market (DirecTV with Friday Night Lights, for example), AD has new life and distribution on a Netflix platform that's ready to become a major player. Do you think the actors feel any kind of vindication for being saved after all these years?

No, says Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth): "I don't think any of us felt any sort of bitterness or huge frustration that the show had gone under. I think for the most part the emotion around the set when it went down was— certainly we were upset, but pretty grateful that we got that far. There was blood in the water after the first thirteen episodes. … Now with [Netflix picking up the show], it's all been gravy for us."



"
I was a little pissed that it was canceled kind of unceremoniously. I don't know if vindication is the word I'd use, but it was certainly satisfying … to know that all of us as well as all the fans were right."
—David Cross



But David Cross (Tobias Fünke) inserted something more akin to how the supporters might feel. "I don't take the same meds as Jason," he starts. "I was a little pissed that it was canceled kind of unceremoniously. I don't know if vindication is the word I'd use, but it was certainly satisfying … to know that all of us as well as all the fans were right. This should continue. This should have continued."

That same sense of a cause permeated the conversation with the cast. These were characters who were not only were missed dearly by fans, but by the actors themselves. Portia Di Rossi said she felt Lindsay has always been a fun character, someone who always wants to do good but is completely terrible. Cross spoke the same of Tobias, and Bateman mentioned that he isn't really much different from Michael, so he might've just been playing himself all along. 

But Jessica Walters, who may have the day job that runs closest to her Lucille Bluth roots (Mallory Archer on Archer), remarked that what she missed most about AD (besides the wardrobe) was the writing. "They don't have Arrested Development writer trees out there."

And then began the noticeable praise bestowed upon Mitch Hurwitz, the one man who could get the band back together. Bateman and Cross sang the loudest, while detailing this upcoming season's structure and commending Hurwitz's plan for the future. Apparently even the cast members believe there'll be a learning curve for viewers, but they took care to point out that the audience for AD is smart enough to catch on quickly. Di Rossi even suggested that the new episodes might be easier to watch, since each one will focus on a single character. But what impressed everyone most about Hurwitz is the plan he has in store and how he has everything all worked out in his head.

Bateman suggested that this season was just one act of a planned trio, which includes a movie. Netflix hasn't come forward to say it's on board with shepherding the rest of Hurwitz's plan, but it's clearly a liturgical miracle to the cast that Hurwitz has the plan that he has with the structure that he wants to use. They all seem to really believe in him, like his face should be on a coin with "In Mitch We Trust" stamped around the edges; it's reminiscent of the kind of cultish charisma you see in some of the most well-known television "auteurs," like Joss Whedon or even Shonda Rimes. Maybe it's just publicity, maybe it's just coaching, but the actors appear to honestly believe the new Arrested Development will be the best product introduced to narrative storytelling in some time. But maybe that's just them acting.

All told, if there's any feeling you could derive from that panel of actors, it's confidence. Even though Fox ripped them off the air and told them they weren't good enough to attract a real audience, they've come back with a swagger in this Netflix outing. And, if they have it their way, there'll be more to come.


Arrested Development Season 4 premieres May 26 on Netflix.

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keen as mustard for this!
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I love that they're all so enthusiastic about not only its return, but the plan for things to come as well. Hopefully the show's return is successful enough to let them continue making Hurwitz's plan a reality, and can't wait to actually see it on Netflix (and any other format it might require in the future).
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The biggest problem with FOX is that many of the shows that were unceremoniously cancelled were never given decent slots to begin with. It'd be one thing if FOX gave you a couple of years (with good lead ins) and you never attacted an audience. Instead FOX always strands shows that are obviously good and full of potential in bad slots and then immeditately cancels them after a season (or half). Even when FOX brought AD back for 3 seasons they refused to nurture their best quality show in a good time slot so it could grow into a hit. One time they did actaully air it after American Idol.
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Thank you Netflix this long time customer could NOT be happier.... Love AD ;o) one of the few series I own on dvd and rewatch often!

as for FOX whatever you suck!!!!
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I love all the cancelled FOX shows equally.

I didn't care for Wonderfalls.
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Hey dude, you left Human Target - the best of the bunch - off your list of tragic cancellations, so obviously you haven't seen it - missed a great one...
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Staff
I think I watched the pilot for it and I'm not sure why I never went back. I really like Mark Valley (Keen Eddie, I miss you) and Chi McBride (because he's amazing). But I guess I wasn't sold on it at the time. I heard it got better. Something for me to revisit.
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I'm oddly confident that this revival will live up to the original 3 seasons. Regardless I think I will enjoy it, the trailer certainly impressed.
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- Dear Jason Bateman, gravy is often made from the blood that might be found in said water. Mwa ha ha! Sincerely, - Department of evil but true facts that stem from comments made by public figures -


David Cross is pissed about everything, that doesn't count, he's not a benchmark I'd use in gauging outrage. He's a hilarious standup, but not a member of the calm heads society.

I've got a family function to attend on Sunday, lest I'd just spend it at home watching AD's new episodes on the 'flix. The idea that this could lead somewhere else after is beyond expectation, but if they make it happen and it lives up to the quality, it'll be a godsend. I'm not sure a movie would really do this series best, but more episodes, a mini-series, something... ANYTHING. I'm already hungry for more and I haven't even seen the new episodes yet!
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Challenge accepted!

Shows by fox canceled too early beyond those listed above:

Action
Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
Alien Nation
Andy Richter Controls the Universe
Back to You
Bakersfield P.D.
Futurama
Greg the Bunny
Human Target
John Doe
Justice
Profit
Sliders (you might not think so, but Syfy made money with it afterwards)
Space Above and Beyond
Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles
The Ben Stiller Show
The George Carlin Show
The Good Guys
The Lone Gunmen
The Tick
Undeclared
Wanda at Large
Woops

Bottom line, Fox sucks.
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This list was a great walk down memory lane. I forgot that Brisco County, Jr was on FOX (I mostly remember it during syndication). Sliders introduced me to Sabrina Lloyd, something for which I'll always be grateful. But I have to stop you at Back to You. That show was awful. Completely justified cancellation.

Spoooooooooon.
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I had no idea Brisco County Jr was ever in syndication, pretty sure it never made my market that way (it was only 27 episodes after all). Sabrina Lloyd was great on Sliders and it was so confusing when they added Kari Wuher to the cast, as she was also a red-head at the time and the only way to tell them apart at times was the implants and the ability to act (sorry Kari). They'd write the characters all catty, it was annoying.

Back to You was fine, Kelsey Grammer was fun as a pompous anchor trying to be a little better, Ty Burrell, Fred Willard, Patricia Heaton, the dumb premise of the kid he didn't know wasn't overwhelming, Josh Gad wasn't overwhelming and even almost restrained. It wasn't perfect but I don't think it was awful, I think it was finding its stride and had it been on a different network it'd have done fine.

Spoon indeed!
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One show I might add to a list of cancelled-too-early Fox shows, despite not actually getting into it until a while after it aired, is Millennium. I do realize that the show itself had a lot to do with its early death. It was incredibly dark (especially season 1, but even seasons 2 and 3, which introduced some entertainment elements, including some comedy episodes, were dark in their own way), had extreme changes each season. Not to mention that, during season 3, Chris Carter was trying to get the right blend of his Millennium (season 1) and Glen Morgan/James Wong's Millennium (season 2), so he wouldn't alienate fans of either, which I do believe he got right eventually, but it's not hard to see he was struggling to find the right balance during those early episodes, despite having a few very good episodes mixed in. But either way, I think it could have easily gone at least one more season, even if it was a shortened season. That way, we could see the actual millennium on the show, and given the show a proper ending, instead of relying on The X-Files to do so, in an episode that was good on its own merits, but was nothing like what you would see on Millennium.
More +
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Millennium was on my list, I removed it when I realized it had 3 seasons and nearly 70 episodes, and even got a follow-up on The X-Files, that was more than most of the shows I listed got (and The Lone Gunmen's follow-up on The X-Files was horrible). I liked Frank Black but that story didn't seem like it was lost to the ages, I guess.
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Yeah, fair enough. I do admit that the X-Files episode was pretty good as far as giving his character a nice conclusion with his daughter. And, viewing it as an X-Files episode (which is how I originally viewed it), it was pretty good, but it didn't really work that well as a conclusion to Millennium's main storyline IMO. I would have much preferred seeing at least a shortened final season for the show, with a more fitting millennium storyline. But, as you said, it could have easily been worse off, like a lot of those other shows.
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Can't blame Fox for Sliders. Sliders killed itself with all of the behind the scenes drama with the people on the show.
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And by "killed itself", you mean it went on to 2 more successful seasons on The Sci Fi Channel, and would have gotten a third season there had the channel not assumed audiences wouldn't watch after Jerry O'Connell left and spent their money on pilots only to discover too late that the ratings went UP?
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The Good Guys was so good, definitely underrated. Loved The Tick, too, Sarah Connors and George Carlin and Brisco County Jr. Undeclared was awful, though.
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Sarah Connors and Brisco County Jr awful? Blasphemy! Stay off of the bath salts.
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Murderboy wasn't that clear, he LOVED those 2 shows and disliked Undeclared. But you can defend them anyway, they appreciate the attention.
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Yeah, I missed the second period after Jr.. Thanks JT.
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Criticizing Apatow's Undeclared is pretty bold. I somewhat agree though. It sort of comes off as a mediocre college copy of the superb Freaks and Geeks.
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A couple of quibbles.

Human Target jumped the shark after its first season. Space Above and Beyond was weak from the start. The Lone Gunmen didn't have enough dramatic possibility to carry a show, AND was released about 4 seasons to late to capitalize on the X-Files' peak popularity. The Tick was never going to find a mass audience (and it made stupid changes from the animated show that was about 8 times better... the only thing it had going for it was casting Patrick Warburton, who was perfect for the role... Captain Liberty instead of American Maid? BatManuel instead of Die Fliedermaus? Weak.)

My list would be shorter than yours, with Alien Nation, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Futurama, and Undeclared.
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Correction: Human Target got better in the second season - Indira Varma...DUH!!!
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I can't believe it's seriously coming out this sunday. My friend asked me if I thought it might be a let down with all the hype. I'm not worried, the trailer alone had already won me over.
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Can't believe it either, so cool. Didn't think they'd get this many back, either...
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I can hear all of the Fox shot callers screaming in unison... "We've made a huge mistake."
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Not going to happen. They may feel that way, but no way they do it. Just sayin'...
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Jessica Walter (not Walters)
You're definitely not the first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrAxgAbwHs0
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Why?! WHY must you bring up Terriers?! *cries*

Oh um, yay, Arrested Development.
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Because I miss it, too.
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I can't wait for season 4! Counting down the days... Wondering if I'm going to watch'em all at once next sunday/monday, or just 3-4 episodes each day. And let's face it: once I'm done watching season four, I'm immediately going to watch it again...
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I'm just gonna have a party with some friends (frozen bananas, mayoneggs and everything) and watch all 15 episodes at once. Then, immediately watch them again.
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I'm not giving you any ice cream, you wouldn't properly appreciate it...
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