"People are kind of used to getting what they want now," Arrested Development star Portia De Rossi said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association winter previews.
That statement couldn't be more true for the loyal following the Emmy-winning cult comedy has amassed. After seven years off the air and many rumors about the show's return (first via Showtime or another network, and later, by way of a movie), Arrested Development will return on Internet streaming service Netflix with 14 new episodes this May.
"It didn't seem as impossible to me until we got into it and then I realized how impossible it was," creator and showrunner Mitch Hurwitz told reporters. "I think I just kind of always held out hope that this would work out. It was a naïve hope."
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A naïve hope that become a reality last November when Netflix announced it had resurrected the series. But after so many years spent trying to resurrect the show, did Hurwitz feel the pressure to live up to that hype? "I could vomit right at this moment. ... So yes," Hurwitz joked. "It's great fortune to have something to live up to, but as creative people, I think we all have to do put that aside ... and have as joyous an experience as we can."
Hurwitz said one of the biggest pressures he faced was not pleasing the fans, but making sure they were surprised about what was coming up for the characters. From this came the show's strict policy against spoilers, as well as the idea of doing new episodes altogether. "We want to reward the fans for sticking with us," Hurwitz said. "There was so much talk about the movie and we thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if we still did the movie and then did something the fans didn't see coming?'"
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When the series returns, every episode — each roughly under a half-hour — will focus on a different character from the Bluth family. For example, one episode may focus on Gob (Will Arnett) and then the next could focus on his mother Lucille (Jessica Walter). Episodes will feature appearances from the other characters and multiple episodes may take place over the same period of time, with each showing the narrative from the perspectives of different characters. "We're telling a complicated story that jumps around in time and has all these intersections," Hurwitz said. "Everybody sort of intermingles through each individual person's episodes," star Jason Bateman added. "There's plenty of the regular cast that filters through there."
Another big change is that all the new episodes will premiere on Netflix on the same day, which means fans will be able to completely control what order in which they watch the episodes and how quickly they consume them. "There is an order that we have put together to create the maximum number of surprises," Hurwitz said. "All of this conspired to make this one giant, one 700-minute Arrested Development."
The new format may be easier to consume for so many fans who fell in love with the show after its cancellation by "binge-watching" it on DVD box sets or on streaming sites like Netflix. "[Mitch's] writing is so pleasantly dense," Bateman said. "I just don't think it's necessarily conducive to something that has commercials in it or distractions of X, Y or Z."
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And the Arrested Development team is just getting started. Hurwitz and the cast were quick to dispel a rumor that the episodes were being made in place of an Arrested Development movie. "This is just the first act of what we hope to continue and complete with a movie," Bateman said. "These are episodes that set that up."
"And eventually a theme park, right," Arnett joked.
It has yet to be seen which companies will finance the movie and/or distribute it, but the cast is, again, holding out hope. "Maybe the movie will end up [on Netflix] too. Who knows," Bateman said. "If there is a movie, I know Mitch has great ideas for it." However, he also assured fans that the episodes will be a "satisfying conclusion" to the series if the movie doesn't happen.
Either way, the cast is simply happy to be back together. "It's different than the original Arrested Development, and beyond anything I could have hoped," Walter said.
The new episodes of Arrested Development premiere this May on Netflix. Are you excited? Would you see an Arrested Development movie?