Despite Lackluster Comeback, 'Arrested Development' Renewed

Netflix's chief content officer announced "Arrested Development" will come back for a fifth season. But why would they want to bring the show back?
Posted at 5:54 PM, Aug 07, 2014

We all thought "Arrested Development" was done for good when it was canceled after its third season, but then Netflix surprised us by bringing the series back last year. And now fans should be happy because Netflix's chief content officer teased that a fifth season might be on its way.

"It's just a matter of when," Ted Sarandos told USA Today after saying he was "positive" the show was coming back. 

The show, starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi and Will Arnett, originally aired on Fox from 2003 to 2006. But it ended up getting canceled because it wasn't drawing in enough viewers. (Video Via Netflix / "Arrested Development")

But viewership increased dramatically after the series came out on DVD and it was streamed on Netflix, causing the Internet subscription service to reach a deal with Twentieth Century Fox. Under that deal, The Huffington Post says the production company would produce the new episodes and Netflix would stream them. 

The anticipation for the new episodes to air was overwhelming, but when Netflix finally released all 15 new episodes at once on May 26, 2013, the reviews were lackluster. 

This review was especially painful. A writer for The Daily Beast said, "Season 4 feels like an anvil being dropped on the heads of viewers, one with a note attached that reads, 'LOVE ME. PLEASE LOVE ME. LOVE ME,' in all caps."

And a TV Guide writer said although she really wanted to like the episodes, she discovered the season "expos[ed] the fact that maybe these characters aren't as likeable as we want them to be."

International Business Times noted what frustrated fans the most was that all the characters were barely shown together as an ensemble. Instead, they appeared individually because it was too difficult to work around the actors' scheduling conflicts. 

So why spend the money to bring the show back? 

Well, first of all, Netflix wants to keep moving forward with its original programming. In fact, last year Sarandos told GQ he wanted to air at least five original programs each year. 

So Netflix can add "Arrested Development" to an already substantial list of original programming that includes the critically acclaimed "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black."

Second, the Los Angeles Times reports Netflix spent $2.5 million to $3 million per episode for the series. That's really just a drop in the bucket for the video subscription company. 

Wednesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced the company's subscriber revenue for the second quarter came in at $1.146 billion. So spending as much as $45 million on 15 episodes really isn't going to make or break the company. 

And finally, "Arrested Development" was nominated for three Emmys for its fourth season, including outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for Jason Bateman as well as two technical nominations. 

There's no word yet on when season five of "Arrested Development" will start shooting.