Once a total failure, and now a cult classic, what actually happened to ‘Arrested Development’ that led to its cancellation after season 3?
‘Arrested Development’s’ development was actually arrested in its initial run on Fox when it faced cancellation after season 3. It was heartbreaking for the fans of the show. However, the fact is that ‘Arrested Development’ was one of the finest sitcoms back then. It surpassed all the other sitcoms of the era in terms of concept and as well as critical reception. Yet, Fox had to cancel the show only after 3 seasons. What was the reason behind the cancellation? Why was one of the greatest sitcoms abandoned to only be revived 6 years later?
- What led to ‘Arrested Development’ Season 3 cancellation?
- The show made everything look outdated
- Fight for the timeslots and episodes
- Netflix revival after 6 years.
‘Arrested Development’ – The downfall of one of the greatest sitcoms in TV history.
What led to ‘Arrested Development’ Season 3 cancellation?
‘Arrested Development’, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, debuted on Fox in November 2003. The show that received great critical acclaim, struggled to make it to three seasons. In February 2006, after struggling for timeslots, the number of episodes, and a lot more, ‘Arrested Development’ somehow managed to complete its 3rd season. Later, Fox cancelled the show and dumped it forever.
The hope for the show’s revival with a season 4 was long dead until Netflix came into the scenario. However, fans of the show could never understand the real reason why ‘Arrested Development’ faced the cancellation post-season 3.
The show made everything look outdated
One of the main reasons behind the cancellation of ‘Arrested Development’ post season 3 was the fact that the show was too ahead of its time. In the times when the sitcoms were obsessed with loud expositions and punchlines, ‘Arrested Development’ utilized self-referential humour, cutaway gags, contextual comedy, all of which didn’t resonate with the audience of the time.
The format of the show was somewhat in line with what we see today. Majority of sitcoms back then, or even now, follow the format of standalone plots for each episode with recurring gags, thus allowing the audience to hop in at any given moment. However, ‘Arrested Development’ took a different approach and relied on story threads and gags that usually ran for multiple episodes at a time. Thus, even after being one of the most acclaimed shows, ‘Arrested Development’ struggled heavily for viewership rights from its debut.
Fight for the timeslots and episodes
Even though Fox kept the show alive for 3 seasons, the ratings kept dropping and the network was left with no choice but to let go of it. However, Fox earned its own share of credit for the failure of ‘Arrested Development’, and later for its cancellation after season 3. At the time when the network should have invested the confidence the show deserved, Fox kept moving it to different timeslots and kept slashing down the number of episodes right from season 2.
After the low ratings of season 1, Fox slashed the second season from the initially planned 22 episodes to 18 episodes, halfway through the season. Fox went on to further cut down the episode count from 22 episodes to 13, in season 3.
The network also changed the show’s timeslot to Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET, and later Fox ended up showing the last four episodes in a two-hour timeslot—directly opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
How Fox betrayed ‘Arrested Development’ and played a major role in its failure
Netflix revival after 6 years
The cancellation of ‘Arrested Development’ after season 3 was a tragedy, as the show was hailed as one of the greatest sitcoms ever made by “Time magazine”, “Entertainment Weekly“, and many more. The show also won 5 Emmys for the first season itself. Thus, there was no way it was being left abandoned.
In 2011, the streaming giant Netflix revived ‘Arrested Development’ for season 4. In 2013, one of the greatest sitcoms, ‘Arrested Development’ premiered with season 4 as a Netflix original.
However, the show failed to create the same magic even though most of the original cast members including Carl Weathers, Henry Winkler, Ben Stiller, and others returned to revive their characters. ‘Arrested Development Season 4 Remix: Fateful Consequences’, a recut of the original season 4, created by Director Mitchell Hurwitz, premiered in May 2018.
The first part of season 5 of the show followed in the same month, with the second half releasing in March of 2019.
‘Arrested Development’ could never achieve the same persona post the cancellation of season 3. Even Netflix couldn’t bring back the same ‘Arrested Development’ its fans were expecting with the season 4 original. As of now, there seems no hope for season 6 of ‘Arrested Development’. Do you think the show will return for one more season?