Let's just get this out of the way, for all you Bluth's Frozen Banana nuts out there: We have seen the first episode of the newly-reincarnated "Arrested Development," and it is fantastic.
Now we can't tell you anything about what happens in it, due to Netflix shrouding the show's return in a Matthew Weiner-esque veil of secrecy. But we can tell you it's an immensely satisfying (and hilarious) reunion with the madcap Bluth family, with guest stars and in-jokes galore. And you won't need to wait much longer to see for yourself; Netflix will release all 15 episodes of the new-look "Arrested Development" this Saturday night at midnight PT. (So plan to spend your Memorial Day weekend indoors. And laughing. Someone else can man the grill, right?)
Of course, any additional time we get to spend with the Bluths is an unexpected blessing. Fox unceremoniously canceled the cult comedy back in 2006, following a three-season run that enjoyed lots of acclaim — but not lots of viewers. Rumors swirled for years about a reunion movie, but as time went on, we eventually filed it under "Well, that would have been nice." Suddenly, Netflix swooped in to save the day, offering to revive "Arrested" on its streaming service to add to its impressive slate of original content. (With this and "House of Cards," look for Netflix to make a major splash come Emmy time.)
And if you think you're excited to see the Bluths back in action, that's nothing compared to how thrilled the cast was to set foot in Lucille's penthouse apartment again, as we learned when we spoke with the cast at a recent press junket. "It took us about thirty minutes to calm down," says Jessica Walter (Lucille) with a smile, recalling the day they shot their first big scene together. Portia de Rossi (Lindsay) says none of the actors had any hesitation about coming back to play characters they left behind seven years ago: "It just felt like a gift to go back and resurrect something we all really loved."
Watch the trailer for the new season of "Arrested Development" right here:
But the cast is quick to warn viewers: This is not the "Arrested Development" you're used to seeing. Due to the cast's busy schedules, all nine Bluths are only together on screen for two scenes total, with most of the episodes focusing on a single character. But that necessity forced creator Mitchell Hurwitz to invent a new way of making TV: a full season of interlocking episodes that show the same scenes from different angles and double back on each other, fitting together like the funniest jigsaw puzzle ever.
"It's going to be a revelation when you start realizing, 'There's a structure to this that I wasn't aware of when I started watching,'" predicts David Cross (Tobias). "There's going to be a sense of discovery to it that'll kind of redefine what TV can be." And Jason Bateman (Michael) thinks fans will appreciate the innovative structure and relish the chance to re-watch episodes multiple times to catch all the references. "They seem to be a group that likes things somewhat challenging."
De Rossi actually thinks the new format is a better way to watch the show: "It's channeling your focus onto one character per episode, so in a way, it's almost easier to digest than the original series. And we have a little more time to tell the story, as much time as we need." Indeed, some of the Netflix episodes run about ten minutes longer than a typical Fox episode. And more times with the Bluths is always a good thing, right?
Despite the aforementioned veil of secrecy, the cast did manage to drop a few hints about what to expect this time around. For instance, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that not everything has gone right for the Bluth family since we last saw them. "We're deeply banged-up," Bateman reveals. "The seven years off have not been kind to any of us." And Walter teasingly points out the ankle bracelet Lucille is wearing in the promotional posters: "What could that mean?" (Don't tell us someone's monitoring her alcohol intake.)
But the best news of all: This might not be the last we see of the Bluths. Bateman says the Netflix run is intended to be merely the first act of a larger three-act story, which would continue in a possible "Arrested Development" movie. Plans for that movie are still very much up in the air… but maybe we can help make that movie a reality if a whole bunch of us vote with our eyeballs and binge-watch the entire new season of "AD" this weekend. Let's show Netflix (and Fox) that there's always money in this particular banana stand, huh?
The new season of "Arrested Development" premieres Sunday, 5/26 on Netflix.
- Arts & Entertainment