Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 by Angie Han
So far we’ve had plenty of reasons to look forward to seeing the Bluths get back together for Season 4 of Arrested Development. But now it turns out that the long-awaited reunion wasn’t actually much of a reunion at all.
Due to scheduling issues, Mitch Hurwitz admits, some scenes featuring multiple characters were actually shot at totally different times, with the actors’ performances edited together in post-production. The entire cast was only on set together for a total of two days. We won’t know until the new episodes hit this weekend how that method actually worked out for them, but it’s a little worrisome to say the least. Hit the jump to read Hurwitz’ comments.
The series creator discused his unusual approach in an interview with Rolling Stone.
We ended up with an eight-hour movie of Arrested Development where the pieces do kind of come together. Not only was the show told out of sequence, it was shot out of sequence. Half of the stuff is on green screen. There are scenes where there are two characters talking to each other. On one side, it’s Jason Bateman in July, and on the other side it’s Portia in November. It was these crazy, crazy things where everybody had to say, “Wait, she hasn’t gone to that party, so she wouldn’t have that makeup on, therefore . . . ”
I mean, it was just nonstop like that, and it still is. I just finished what’s called offline editing three days ago. We had to be locked at four a.m. two or three days ago. I think we locked at 3:59 AM. In the final moments I was still saying, “Wait! He doesn’t know about Buster! Let’s move that line!” It was insane. [Laughs] This is, to me, one of the craziest things of this. Again, it’s such a fortune that I get this opportunity, but this is an eight-hour show that has been tested in no way. No one has seen it. I haven’t watched it back to back. Everyone has seen pieces of them, and we’ve been delivering them out of order. There’s never been a screening of these back-to-back. I guess that’s usually the case with television, right? You pick the pilot and then the rest of them are an episode, one at a time. But those episodes are pretty heavily vetted.
It doesn’t sound like Hurwitz had much of a choice — given how busy all these actors are, it was probably green screen performances or nothing. But it definitely doesn’t sound like the ideal way to go. Already, there’s some negative buzz about the green screen method.
According to sources who spoke with Buzzfeed, the results are pretty mixed. While one individual claimed to have barely noticed the effects during one scene featuring Henry Winkler, another complained that a scene between Jessica Walter and Liza Minnelli featured Austin Powers levels of phoniness.
Worse still, the unorthodox approach has reportedly taken its toll on the cast’s famous rapport. “I think the reason most people like the [original] show is because it’s off-the-cuff and improvised,” said one source. “[Green screening] is something that I think is not a good idea — and I think a lot of fans would agree that they’d rather it not be made if it is not going to be made in the same style.”
In a word, yikes. Hopefully it’ll turn out that Hurwitz is just being hard on himself when he talks about how messy the shooting process was, and that the criticism at Buzzfeed is overly negative. But for now, this is serving as a pretty good reminder not to set my expectations too sky-high. Arrested Development Season 4 hits May 26.