Pasadena, Calif. – They all know they shouldn’t be here.
That’s how the cast and creator of Arrested Development feel about appearing before the Television Critics Association nine years after the cult comedy was canceled by Fox. But after nearly a decade of talk about a movie sequel and possible revival, Arrested Development will finally release 14 new episodes on Netflix this May.
“It didn’t seem as impossible to me until we got into it and then I realized how impossible it was,” said creator/executive producer Mitch Hurwitz on the improbability of sitting on this stage again. “I think I always held out hope that this would happen and it was a very naive hope. We shouldn’t be here and I accept that.”
Since going off the air in 2003, Arrested has become more popular than it ever was in its TV run, with new viewers discovering the show on Netflix, among other places. The ensuing fan fiction has actually made it harder for Hurwitz and the rest of the writers to come up with unexpected storylines.
“One of the challenges of the show was trying to be surprising and that was easy to do when no one was watching,” he said. “Now we’ve started really guarding material. We hold back information about the plot because we want to reward fans for sticking with us.”
The 14 new episodes are each dedicated to a different character’s point of view – partly to serve as a bridge between the third season and a planned movie — and partly because Arrested is in second position for all of its cast members, who have grown into much bigger stars than during its original run. Viewers should not consider the new episodes to be a fourth season, however, cautioned star Jason Bateman.
“This is just the first act of what we hope to complete in a movie with a second and third act,” he said. “There is certainly a satisfying conclusion to these episodes if the movie unfortunately doesn’t happen, but they’re working in tandem. This is something that is completely different on purpose.”
As Netflix has done with its other original series, it will release all the episodes of Arrested at once, so fans can jump around if they want, though they are designed to be watched in order.
“There is an order that we have put together to create maximum number of surprises,” Hurwitz said. As for the potential for spoilers from fans who jam through all the episodes in one day he said, “There are going to be surprises that will be ruined by spoilers, but that would have happened anyway.”
While star Jessica Walter called being reunited after nine years “surreal,” Hurwitz does find the pressure to live up to the show’s legacy nerve-wracking — “I could vomit right now,” he quipped.
He did acknowledge that this time around, “It’s great for them to have something to live up to. We wanted to really remember that the spirit of this was to surprise fans with something they didn’t see coming.”