PASADENA, Calif.—Get ready for the Bluth family reunion.
“We shouldn’t be here,” Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz said on Wednesday afternoon, flanked on stage by stars Will Arnett, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.
Arrested Development was perhaps the ultimate example of a show cancelled too soon, brutally ripped away from a legion of devoted fans while still in its infancy, just three short seasons after its premiere on Fox in November 2003. Against all odds, the cast has reunited to produce a slate of new episodes.
Hurwitz said that making the show’s 14 new episodes, which will premiere on Netflix in May, almost felt like writing fan fiction for the show — and in fact, he said, “There were some fan fiction things that would scoop us.”
And Bateman clarified: “It is not season 4.” But making the episodes for Netflix, allowed the the show’s creators to make them more complex, Bateman said, partly because they’ll be free from the distractions of commercials.
Though there is definitely an order to the episodes, in order to create the maximum number of surprises, the new episodes will be made available all at once, Hurwitz said. Still, fans don’t necessarily have to do watch it in that order. They can think of it like an album, Hurwitz said — “almost a choose-your-own-adventure kind of thing.”
Cera — who played George-Michael Bluth, the son of Bateman’s character Michael Bluth — was in the writers’ room for much of the season, coming in at first to help with the episode based from his character’s point of view, and he ended up just sticking around.
He wasn’t the only one who stopped by the writers’ room. Walter, who played family matriarch Lucille Bluth, said it was the first place she wanted to go when she landed back in L.A., because she wanted to congratulate them on the new episodes. “Name one writer!” an incredulous Arnett challenged.
“It’s different than the original Arrested Development and beyond anything I had hoped,” Walter continued, unruffled.
In a new twist, each episode is presented from the point of view of a different character, so each character gets to be “king” for one episode. That decision, said Horowitz, was motivated by the fact that they couldn’t afford to have all of the characters together in every episode.
The episodes are still in post-production, and the TCA panel ended with a clip from the new episodes, one of which Hurwitz said was an outtake. Here’s that scene: Lucille is sitting in the living room, smoking a cigarette. Every time she exhales, she blows the smoke directly into her son Buster’s (Tony Hale) mouth. He captures it and hurries to the french doors, and blows it outside. The cycle repeats four or five times, until Lucille can’t bear it any longer and bursts out laughing.
But, Hurwitz added, if the audience at TCA liked the clip enough, he’d add it into an episode. Or maybe it could make it into an Arrested Development movie — the possibilities of which have been rumored for years. Tantalizingly, at TCA, Hurwitz would not confirm the movie — but he didn’t deny it, either.