Whoever might be employing me in the spring of 2013, know this: The moment Netflix debuts the return of Arrested Development, I’m calling in sick. Because on that glorious day, me and the hundreds and thousands of other devotees will be in our pajamas, in front of our laptops and iPads and Xboxes and Rokus, once again enjoying the antics of the Bluth family.
Arrested‘s rebirth, over four years in the works, has the potential to completely change the game in terms of the way we regard web content in the future. I mean, cult network sitcom gets a literal second life through the largess of a company that began life as a mail-order DVD service? If you time-traveled to 2006 (the year Fox originally canceled the show), and told this story, no one would believe you.
And yet, it’s happening: scripts have been written, producer/narrator Ron Howard’s Tweeting from the set, and David Cross, on a recent press blitz, said no shortage of interesting things about the series’ return, including this to Rolling Stone:
I think it’s going to be 13 episodes, not 10. There’s too much story. Some characters will have two-parters. Everybody sort of participates, sometimes in a bigger way and sometimes in a tiny little thread that goes through everybody else’s stories.
This is the sort of statement that would make a network executive’s head explode, due to the way traditional TV is budgeted and structured on a per-episode basis. But we’re on Netflix’s turf now. Unexplored territory.
Beyond Lilyhammer, which has been renewed for a second season, the industry hasn’t gotten much sense yet of how Netflix’s many high-profile in-the-works projects, such as Arrested, the Eli Roth series Hemlock Grove or the Kevin Spacey-starring House of Cards, will really work out — especially because the question of how to promote a VOD project is still a bit up in the air.
With theatrical releases, you get premiere dates, big galas. But Netflix is so stealthy about announcing what’s available and what isn’t that websites and email services have been created to update people.
Without doubt, I’ll know what day I’m calling in with the Arrested flu next spring — it’s impossible to imagine that not being heavily promoted by both the production and Netflix — but the Netflix experience in general has always boiled down to “Wait, THAT’S available now? Okay, cool.” Seeing how Netflix adapts to accommodate the original programming they’re launching, while still enabling the casual browsing of the user experience, is a fascinating challenge.
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