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It's a Bird, Mother! Netflix Brings Arrested Development Home

Sunday, 05 May 2013 09:52 Jennifer Devore TV Reviews
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Michael: It's just hard to accept that it's really come to begging.
George: Sometimes, it's the only way to stay in the game.
Narrator (Ron Howard): Please, tell your friends about this show!

Ron Howard, we did. We looked the other way, for a just a second, and they snatched Arrested Development from our sticky, chocolate-covered banana hands with swift and heartless indifference. So, we told on the offenders. We told our parents, our teachers, our friends, our families, our congressmen and our pets. We wrote, emailed, blogged, Tweeted, Facebooked and clipped up YouTube homages in the multi-millions of copyright infringement violations. Apparently, it all worked.

May 26, 2013 at 12:01 a.m. PST (That's O.C.-time, kids.), hordes of rabid Bluth devotées will commence their Memorial Day celebrations with Trader Joe's frozen bananas, Grey Goose Vanilla and O.J. hiballs, Gangytinis and the words that started it all ... And that's why you always leave a note!

After Fox cancelled Arrested Development, similar to their unwise, initial cancellation of Family Guy, executive producer Mitchell Hurwitz explained he was not interested in Showtime's offer to pick up the show, nor any other network offer for that matter. Even though his show was brutally cut short after a mere three seasons, Hurwitz was "more worried about letting down the fans in terms of the quality of the show dropping" than he was worried about letting down fans by leaving them without it altogether. Hurwtiz offered hope to fans everywhere by further stating, "If there's a way to continue this in a form that's not weekly episodic series television, I'd be up for it." In 2011, Netflix snapped the towel off the competition and exposed their cutoffs, leaving them crying in the shower. Netflix earned distribution of the long-awaited fourth season. Steve Holt!

This month, Netflix will proffer the patient and the tenacious fifteen, brand-new Arrested Development episodes, one more than originally planned. Officially season 4, it will serve as a where-are-they-now?, visual omnibus of the Bluth Family, each episode focusing on a specific member: episode no. 1, George Michael.

“Everyone, ourselves included, seems to feel like the Bluths left the party a bit too soon,” said Brian Grazer and Ron Howard of Imagine TV, which co-produced Arrested Development with 20th Century Fox TV. “Bringing a series back from cancellation almost never happens, but then, Arrested always was about as unconventional as they get, so it seems totally appropriate that this show that broke the mold is smashing it to pieces once again.”

You'll find few creative comparisons of Arrested Development to other shows. There are no blah blah-meets-blah blah kind of descriptions, because there has never been a show like it. Which leaves yours truly fretting, hoping that season 4 will live up to past memories and future visions of the Bluths.

Winning awards from AFI's TV Program of the Year to a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Mitchell Hurwitz' Arrested Development has garnered, thus far, twenty-five awards and thirty-eight nominations. The comedy series set in Newport Beach, California is simultaneously as random and tightly-knit as a ensemble production could be. Like Seinfeld or The Beatles, there really could be no magic without everybody. Plucking out any one character would be like knocking out a support beam; it might stand for a bit, but you want to get the heck out of there, in case of an earthquake.

It has been a very long seven years since the brilliant-but-booted story of an Orange County real estate dynasty living in genteel poverty was ripped from our hands. Now, it's come back to us and we'll take it the way we want it: on our devices, on our schedules and gorging ourselves on Tobias, Buster, Gob, Gangy and George Michael, making ourselves as fried and sick as we want to be on cornballs and Lindsay's hot ham water.

As for the future, beyond May 26th that is, S4 will also serve as a primer to the eventual, fan-driven, feature-length film. Along the Bluths' Balboa boardwalk, Netflix will not only be keeping a sharp eye on the bananas:dollars ratio, but watching carefully the dynamics of the fire-sale user-model they call binge-viewing.

"While Netflix doesn’t release viewership numbers, critical response indicate that the first direct-to-Netflix original series, House of Cards, was particularly popular with viewers inclined to watch a whole series in only a few sittings," writes Rachel Edidin of Wired magazine.

Like a line of gratis, birthday shots set up on a long bar, or an open bag of Gardetto's, if they put it in front of us, we will consume it. With deftly placed plants and payoffs throughout numbers of Arrested Development episodes, it's impossible to stop at just one. Netflix, as well as other distributors and broadcasters, will be studying the hungry hordes closely and, if the latter two are wise, adjusting formats and viewing models.

Heads up, HBO and Bravo; you might still try to force us into cable contracts and programming on your schedule, but that's all over. Sure, HBOGO is a great app; but one can't use it unless one adheres to the front-end, archaic, cable subscription model. Even the scraps CBS, NBC and Discovery begrudgingly throw at us under the Hulu fence, or even via their own websites, are becoming boring and passé: dictating on which devices we may watch, for how long we may watch and how many episodes we are worthy of receiving. (Psst, broadcasters, we're still watching your commercials; why do you care so vehemently when and where we watch them?) As George Bluth, Sr. reminded the dolls of his attic tea party with a strong, pointed finger, "I don't let 'em tell me what to do."

Now, get your Bluth frozen bananas, grab your Gangytinis and crank up "The Final Countdown": it's time you blue yourselves!


Executive Producers: Mitchell Hurwitz , Brian Grazer, Ron Howard , Jim Vallely and Troy Miller

Production Companies: Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox Television

Exclusive Distributor: Netflix


Arrested Development Central Cast:

Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth

Michael Cera as George Michael

Jeffrey Tambor as George Bluth Sr.

Jessica Walter  as Lucille Bluth

Will Arnett as George Oscar Bluth II, a.k.a. Gob

Tony Hale as Buster Bluth

Portia de Rossi  as Lindsay Fünke

David Cross  as Tobias Fünke

Alia Shawkat as Maeby Fünke

Last Updated on Friday, 21 June 2013 08:56

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