TDQ Investigates: Arrested Development Given Freedom To Evolve

Arrested Development Season 4

Arrested Development Season 4 complements of The Net Flick.

Here at The Daily Quarterly, we are often given access to information and events that are not available to the general public. Sometimes we pass this information along, sometimes we don’t think it’s worth our time, and sometimes we keep it to ourselves so you, the reader, don’t feel more envious of us than usual. This one we decided to pass along.

The Daily Quarterly had the chance to view and critique the entire 4th season of the hit TV series “Arrested Development” as produced by Netflix, the internet video streaming and disc rental service. If you recall, most of our staff canceled their Netflix membership in late 2011 when they announced plans to split their disc rental and internet streaming into two companies. A move which would nearly double the cost for some customers (and save a few bucks for others). In the end, the name remains the same, but Netflix lost nearly a million subscribers.

Since then, Netflix has been making moves to draw new subscribers and hold on to the ones they have, including producing its own exclusive content. The Daily Quarterly staff members were presented with an exclusive offer via email titled “Come Back!” from Netflix that would allow journalists to preview Netflix’s wares in exchange for a little personal information, a credit card number and a modest monthly charge. With special access to the entire season secured another hurdle remained: Time.

How does one find the time to watch an entire season of TV (normally doled out over a period as long as six months) in a single day? Simply put, you must make the time. We chose the 27th of May. A day after the official release to avoid the long Netflix queues that were bound to form, and a national holiday in my home country, so my wife (also an internet-based journalist) and I were, technically, getting paid to watch the program. We both agreed to not let that affect our critique. It was a gorgeous day out. Perfect for drawing the shades and holing up to watch hours of TV.

Despite most media outlets being skeptical of the series being able to recapture the magic, my wife (a huge Arrested Development fan) and I embarked on the journey with an open mind. 15 episodes and 10 hours later the verdict was in. It was good! Without spoiling anything I can say that the writers have woven a rich tapestry of a story that is as good, nay, better, than the original three seasons of the series. The material is expertly performed by an equally-rich ensemble cast. The joke density and story complexity means that rewatchability should remain high. (I am already re-watching it.)

Traditional broadcast television should be worried. Not having any insight into the economics of television production and distribution, this seems like a game changer. It’s not the first internet based TV series. It’s not like you can’t get TV on demand with cable or satellite. But, imagine the possibilities.

Imagine there’s no channels. It isn’t hard to do. No stations to surf through. No pay-per-view. Imagine no industry killing illegal download sites. I wonder if you can. No paying for content six ways to Sunday. Too much money going to “The Man.” You may say I’m a cable-cutter, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us. Our source of video content will be just one.

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