BET Restarts The Game With a Sexy New 'Tude

This is the story of a little show that could. Call it blind luck or undying fan devotion, The Game lives on thanks to BET, returning Tuesday–nearly two years after the CW pulled the plug on the series.

So has the, um, mandatory hiatus been good to the footballers and their ladies? Here’s what we can spill:

All is well in the world of your favorite Gamers–just don’t expect the show to gloss over the fact that they were MIA for two whole seasons.

“We pick up two years later, where people are living different types of lives,” showrunner Salim Akil explains. “Derwin (Pooch Hall) is a completely different character, living this balling life, becoming this superstar. He’s part of the Boom Nike campaign. And Tasha (Wendy Raquel Robinson) is coming back stronger than ever. All the characters have changed like people would change in two years.”

Adds Akil’s wife and showrunning partner Mara Brock Akil, “What makes our show special, what makes it successful is that we treat the characters like real people. For us to start back after Melanie (Tia Mowry) and Derwin got married in the hospital wouldn’t be true to time.”

Sure, time has changed The Game gang onscreen, but off camera, the cast couldn’t be happier to return to work together.

“Nothing meant more to us than this,” Hosea Chanchez (Malik) gushes of BET reviving the once-canned series, a sentiment Mowry echoes. “We’re definitely a big, huge family. We’ve been through a lot together. So to be built back up together, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Simply put, Robinson says returning to The Game was “a no-brainer.”

Even Coby Bell (Jason), The Game star who found huge success on USA’s Burn Notice in the interim, can’t help but be thrilled to reunite with the cast.

“We all knew from the very beginning that we had a really special thing,” say Bell. “Just the vibe on the set and how well we all got along, the writers included. It was just a big lovefest.”

There are a few things fans of The Game may want to note before tuning into Tuesday’s fourth season premiere, the first being the extra dose of sexiness, a perk of jumping ship to the basic cable network. Also, look for tweaked sets and a slightly different look to the show as a whole, which now films in Atlanta and will be a “hybrid” multi-camera (think The Big Bang Theory) and single-camera (think The Office) series.

So what say you, Game fans? Are you excited about the series’ long-overdue return? Sound off in the comments.

Catch all new episodes of The Game starting Tuesday, January 11 at 10 pm on BET.