The “Arrested Development” team showed the first footage from the show’s revival Wednesday (Jan. 9) at the TCA winter press tour. It was brilliant — and it’s probably not making the final cut.
Creator Mitch Hurwitz said he didn’t want to spoil anything that does take place in the show, so he played a deleted scene for a very eager roomful of reporters and critics. Lucille (Jessica Walter) is not allowed to smoke, but she’s doing so anyway and getting rid of the evidence by blowing the smoke into Buster’s (Tony Hale) mouth. He then re-exhales the smoke outside — over and over and over and over, until both actors break down laughing.
Based on that evidence, the show is still more than capable of being extremely funny. Hurwitz says, however, that fans can expect a much different structure in the 14 Netflix episodes, which will premiere in May.
“It is a very different form that emerged really organically. It really followed the function,” Hurwitz says. “… The family grew apart, and everybody else kind of grew up and got their own shows and had contracts elsewhere. The only way we could get everybody together for what we’ll call loosely an anthology or series was to kind of dedicate each episode to a different character’s point of view.
“That became a really fun, interesting, engaging creative challenge, because we started finding out the stories would intersect,” he adds. You may see a scene from one character’s perspective in one episode, “and later you’ll see a scene again from the other perspective [and] you’ll get all this new information. So it’s an evolution of the storytelling that was necessary.”
The “Rashomon”-like structure will likely be catnip to detail-obsessed “AD” fans. Hurwitz says at one point the writers considered doing a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style thing where viewers could jump from one episode to the next, but the technology wouldn’t support it.
Since that can’t happen yet, Hurwitz says he has a sequence in mind for how he would want the episodes to be seen. “There is absolutely an order that we have put together to create the maximum number of surprises,” he says. “But that’s just part of our storytelling. If you watch it in the order we prescribe, you’ll get to episode 4 and say ‘That’s why he did that in episode 1.'”
He’s also resigned to the fact that when “Arrested Development” does hit Netflix, all the details he’s worked to keep secret will flood the Internet when fans marathon the episodes the second they’re available.
“There are going to be surprises that will be ruined by spoilers, but that would have happened anyway,” Hurwitz says. “So it’s happening maybe on one day for hard-core fans, but the stuff just now exists. It just lives out there.
“Netflix is a very interesting company. These guys are really experimental, fresh thinkers. … What they’re looking at this time is, ‘Hey, “Arrested Development” people like to watch this [in] binge viewing.’ It’s not how we came up watching TV. It’s not how I looked forward to watching ‘The Sopranos.’ But you’ve got to follow the audience. You’ve got to stay fresh and keep challenging yourself. We’re just embracing it.”