So we (aka just me) have been very late on recaps, partly because of Phoenix Comicon. But, to make up for it, yesterday I got to attend the Arrested Development panel, where Dean Lorey, co-executive producer and writer of the series, caught us up with what has been happening with the new series.
Like a lot of people, I was all too happy to hear that the short-lived nearly-cult series Arrested Development was getting a second chance at life with Netflix. After the highly successful debut of House of Cards, and the high budget debut of Hemlock Grove, Netflix has been climbing the proverbial charts. As Lorey mentioned in the panel, they know their audience. Netflix knows that people like to binge watch and they give it to their audience. Everything else on their site is binge-able, why shouldn’t the original content be?
When they initially started thinking about a continuation after season 3, it was in form of a movie. But after sitting down and just writing a script for the hell of it the writers realized that there was way too much content. Not to say that it wouldn’t have been cut down for the length of a movie, but it was a lot of content that could be put into a more idyllic setting of a television series.
I was curious to see how Netflix worked with a show that had previously been on a major network like FOX. We’ve seen Netflix do a lot of original content, but Arrested Development is not in that grouping. Lorey says there was a different feeling on set, and that Netflix essentially gave them free reigns. This makes sense, since I feel like a major network has invested a lot more into the production than Netflix would have, although it’s nice to see a show get the “Netflix treatment” and allowed some breathing room.
When I asked how Netflix was on set when shooting, Lorey stated that often times they did not have a prominent presence, and when they were there they were more like cheerleaders on the sidelines.
A few people I have spoken to, who do not like Arrested Development as much, have stated that the show seems episodic and that the old sitcom storyline would get old over time. I think those people might do well to take a new look at Season 4. Again, because they have joined hands with Netflix, it is a very different story they are telling. The episodes were all written at once. Season 4 is very much a serial story, and interlaced together to seem more like a miniseries rather than a typical sitcom show. So interlaced that David Cross (Tobias Fünke, analrapist and actor) had once stated that the writer’s room looked more like a “psycho killer’s apartment” than anything else.
The episodes were notoriously elaborate as far as storyline went, and this hasn’t changed in s4. Each episode could have more than 80+ “beats”, which included flashbacks and 5-second shots, all of which needed to be shot separately and then pieced together in the editing room. Lorey stated there is a lot more story to keep track of over the 15 episode season.
When prompted about the show’s funny/awkward display of family relationships, and if the writers ever felt like they had gone too far or were too creepy, Lorey shrugged and shook his head saying, “We did it all.” Now this is not to say we’ll be seeing any ratings warnings before episodes, but rather that they took the show into a place that we were all familiar with and never held back.
Some in the panel, including me, were interested in how they managed to get the actors back for the show, though it seemed that there was no struggle at all as far as desire was concerned. Everyone was glad to be back, and we’ve been told there will be a full cast as well as some returning guest stars. Michael Cera even took a shot at the writing desk, and as Lorey said, turned out to actually be “a really good writer”.
The panel ended with talks of the ending of s4 and where we would be after the premiere on Sunday, May 26th. As far as the writing went, some things were left open ended intentionally either in hopes of a season 5 or a movie. So, I would advise those who are impressed with the new season to take to the social networks, especially Twitter and the facebooks of Netflix and Arrested Development, and tell them how much you love it and ask for a season 5! Networks (big or small) are big on social media and they do listen when prodded.
Oh and those chicken dances? When asked how they came up with it, Lorey stated in the script it just said chicken dance, and the actors themselves came up with their own versions.
A big shout out to J.S. Lewis as a very entertaining emcee, who managed the move the questions along a lot faster than I’ve seen some do, and also kept a good repertoire with Lorey and the audience.
Like I said, Arrested Development premieres on Netflix on May 26, 2013, and will consist of 15 episodes totaling 8.5 hours in length