Netflix — at long last — formally announced at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena on Wednesday that its revival of the beloved comedy Arrested Development will premiere in May. (Last week, a specific drop date of May 4 made rounds, but was promptly shot down by Netflix reps.)
In addition to the original ensemble from the Fox series returning in largely character-centric episodes, guest stars on tap for the relaunch include Liza Minnelli (reprising her of Lucille Austero), Conan O’Brien, John Slattery (Mad Men), Chris Diamantopoulos (24), Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) and Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris).
Here are the highlights from Wednesday’s Arrested Development panel at TCA:
SHOCK AND AWWW | When asked if he ever thought they’d be back at TCA promoting Arrested Development, creator Mitch Hurwitz confessed with a laugh: “I just always kind of held out hope that this would all work out… We shouldn’t be here. I accept that premise.”
OWN BLUTH ADVENTURE | While Hurwitz & Co. were careful to reveal very (very!) little about the upcoming Arrested revival plot-wise, they were forthcoming with talk of the series new and its “very different” form. “The only way we could get everyone together for what we’ll call, loosely, an anthology series, was to dedicate each episode to a different character’s point of view,” the showrunner explained. “That became a fun, entertaining challenge, because we started finding out that the stories would intersect…. So, you’ll see a scene in one [episode], and then you’ll see a scene again from the other perspective [in another episode] where you’ll get all this new information.” Added Bateman: “Exclusive to the format that Netflix provides for us… you can watch a portion of Michael’s episode and then click over to Lucille’s episode,” and so on. The unique format means that the upcoming batch of episodes really just creates “this one giant, 700-minute Arrested Development,” Hurwitz joked.
* MOVIE MAGIC | If all goes as planned, Arrested still may be headed for the big screen. Netflix’s upcoming relaunch is “basically just the first act of what we hope to continue and complete in a movie, which would be Act 2 and Act 3,” Bateman explained. “These [new] are episodes set that up. One does not work without the other.” The actor also clarified that the episodes slated to hit the streaming site in May, while new, do not comprise a fourth season of the series, as has been reported. “It was mislabeled early on,” he said. “There is certainly a satisfying conclusion to these episodes, if for some unfortunate reason the movie does not happen. But [the episodes and the movie] are all meant to work within each other as a hybrid package of Arrested Development stuff.”
A ‘HOW TO’ GUIDE | All 14 of the fresh Arrested adventures will be released at once, but, said Hurwitz, “There is an order that we have put them together to create the maximum number of surprises. If you watch it in the order that we prescribe, you’ll get to, say, Episode 4 and realize that’s why [a character] did that in Episode 1.” Also of note: Each offering is slated to be just under 30 minutes long.
PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL | In addition to reprising his role as George Michael, Michael Cera has joined the Arrested writing team. “Michael is such a brilliant guy and such a great writer,” Hurwitz gushed. “I really did bring him in because he’s such an open guy and wants to learn this other craft… And then suddenly we were very dependent on Michael Cera being in the writers’ room. It became clear that [Arrested Development] was like his first language.”
MOMMY DEAREST | The one tease Jessica Walter would part with is that she has, as Lucille Bluth, has “finally gotten to play Joan Crawford with laughs.”
REUNITED… AND IT FEELS SO GOB | While each ep will be devoted to a single character, the Bluths will all be together again on-screen at one point or another. “Everybody intermingles throughout each individual person’s episode,” Bateman revealed. “There’s plenty of the regular cast that filters through there. But it is [a single character’s episode] that we all just guest-star in.”
What say you, Bluth lovers? Hit the comments with your snappy judgements!