‘Arrested Development’ May Have Already Suffered Its Hardest Blows

/ May 29, 2013


In a Facebook note to fans published on the same day the fourth season of “Arrested Development” was released on Netflix, Mitch Hurwitz wrote: “It’s been our great joy to bring [“Arrested Development”] to you on Netflix where you can access it whenever + however you want. Except, you know, it’s really meant to be watched in order. And you really should watch them all — because they build and, I’m just saying, “eventually.” If you can. All 15.”

So even before the already-famous scathing New York Times review came in, Hurwitz knew the new format wasn’t guaranteed to receive ringing endorsements. In an experiment clearly designed specifically for viewers attempting to binge through all 15 episodes in one sitting, episodes examine the same storyline from different points of view with some episodes running as long as 37 minutes (compared to the normal 22 for broadcast television). Indeed, some reports indicate that as much as 10% of all “Arrested Development” viewers on Netflix watched the entire fourth season in pretty much one sitting.

But the reality of the matter is that Netflix simply doesn’t release their viewing metrics — all reports on viewership numbers are mere speculation. So while that opens up room for interpretation on how the series is doing on Netflix, mixed reviews from top critics — the only thing investors have to go on — led to a six percent drop in stock on Tuesday.

But the company’s silence on metrics also works in its favor, giving it the ability to deflect criticisms and still leave room for kinder interpretations.

In fact, summaries of 13 professional TV critics on Metacritic currently have the fourth season ranked at 72/100, or “generally favorable reviews.” The highest-rated review comes from SF Gate’s Dave Wiegand, and not only completely endorses the entire season but also even says “new ‘AD’ episodes are even more self-contained than those of the first three seasons.”

Furthermore, Netflix stock has recovered an average of .54 percent today — not the greatest rebound, but impressive considering a particularly bullish Dow closed down .69 percent. Despite how exciting it would be to find out exactly how many people devoured the newest season, Netflix’s silence appears, if somewhat counterintuitively, to be its greatest strength at the moment as viewers and hopefully new subscribers flock to it.


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