ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: Mitch Hurwitz on the Netflix Ending, a Potential Movie, and More
June 7, 2013 by Marisa Roffman
[This story contains spoilers for ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’s fourth season. If you haven’t streamed it in full on Netflix yet, be warned the ending is discussed.]
As fans made their way through ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’s fourth season on Netflix over the past couple of weeks, they may have been a little surprised at exactly where the series stopped — as Michael and George Michael had come to blows (literally) over dating the same woman.
“Well, I would say one of the things that I have done from the start is even in the pilot — the pilot if you think about the audacity of this — but the pilot ended with ‘on the next ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT,’ and that’s a pilot, you know, there’s no series yet so I really tried to do that from the start,” said ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT creator Mitch Hurwitz on a conference call with reporters earlier this week. “I think it’s actually one of the things that helped me get it made as a series because one of the questions they ask in testing is, ‘Do you have any interest in watching more of these?’ And I had outwitted the system by saying here’s what happens on the next ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: George Michael watches his cousin take a shower and George Sr. loves prison.”
“So I always like the idea of and there’s something else [still to come],” he continued. “In fact, what I was trying to do at the end of the episode was make people disappointed that the show was ending before Michael and George Michael confronted each other. I don’t know how successful we were at that but it was like, and George Michael left Rebel’s and there would be no meeting with his father in Rebel’s apartment that day and we kind of faded to white and then we popped back up and said OK it’ll happen right now. So I mean I think that no matter what I do there’s always going to hopefully be the suggestion of there’s another step. It’s a saga in a way and even I would say the first episode ended with George Sr. escaping instead of having a heart attack and the first season ended that way…I’ve always kind of trusted that our little family wants to work together and wants to continue telling the story, so in this one particularly not only are there opportunities for that to happen, but there really is a whole story line behind it. I did feel like even if we’re to never come back again, you could look maybe not today, but you could look back on this episode, the last episode of this season and say, wow, look at that, he broke out of the circle, the whole show is a circle and everybody is arrested, everybody keeps falling back to the same patterns…And George Michael broke the circle you know, I mean it’s a loaded and really what is the next step if you were going to have that kind of situation with your father, you know, the closest person to you, what does happen next? As it turns out, I do have answers to that but I just need someone to let me make them.”
Which, of course, is the question on many fans’ minds: is an ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT movie still possible?
“Well my hope was — and is — that we would do a theatrical movie,” Hurwitz said. “This is all complicated by the fact that there are existing rights so it’s not really the kind of situation…where we could go out and say OK, Warner Brothers wants it, Newline wants it and etc., etc. And who wants it most and create that kind of action that way. It is the property of Fox, so if they were willing to do it as a theatrical release, I mean I’m just sort of talking over my head because it’s really all in the deal making. I suppose there is a scenario where there was made for Netflix movie, we just haven’t really explored it yet.”
Hurwitz is also aware that if (or when) a movie does happen, they’ll need to handle the announcement slightly different than the way they did during the hiatus between seasons 3 and 4.
“I don’t have a timeline yet, I don’t have a time table yet, I’m game to work on [more ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT] and we’re going to not do what we did last time which is keep saying, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming,'” Hurwitz promised. “If there is more, I promise you we’ll put a date out there. The last time it really got out of hand, I mean I had said like, ‘Hey we should do a movie about this?’ And then I would say it to Jeffrey Tambor (George/Oscar), ‘Hey we got to do a movie about this, you know I’ve got an idea.’ And I’d tell him a joke and he’d like it and then he would be interviewed the next day and say, ‘Mitch is working on it’ and then it would become a story and I’d think, ‘Oh God, no we’re out too far ahead of it and we’re constantly teasing the audience.”
And while the cast’s limited availability led to the structure of season 4, Hurwitz told reporters that challenge ended up being a good creative spark plug.
“It’s hard to know [what the series would have looked like if everyone was always available],” he admitted. “I would have done a lot differently I think. I think any creative person tries to, as you know as a writer we need restrictions. If somebody just says, hey, do you want to write a novel or an article or a movie or a short story, you kind of get shut down. If somebody says to you, no, you need 70o words by tomorrow, you apply your creativity fully to that task and in a funny way you’re even kind of grateful for it. So, I have discovered in my own creative life that the more I paint myself into corners, the more I have to really tap into a lot of creativity to get out of it and I think you get great stuff from that.”
“I think had I had all the characters from the start I absolutely would have told a massively different story…if I’d had just a regular TV series to do, I think it probably would have looked more like the old series, but knowing that it was on Netflix, I’m sure I would have tried to find a way that it was the regular series that could only be done on Netflix,” he continued. “There would still be a hidden master story…I think it would have been pretty similar except all the characters would have been in every episode. I don’t know, I would have had to find some way to differentiate it from the other seasons. I don’t think I would have been able to just do the old show. I have to give that a little thought. But I will say that I had always wanted to do a series, I’ve always wanted to do an anthology series and I’ve always wanted to do a series with a shifting perspective from a shifting point of view. I’ve just always loved that in novels, I think that’s a great way at getting at a story. You know, through the prism of everyone’s [perspective]. Even as I talk about the show today, somebody else on the show would have a completely different memory of it. We edit and we kind of create our own truth as we kind of go along, I loved exploring that.”
What did you think of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’s Netflix season?