Jason Bateman confident there's lots more 'Arrested Development' to come
This image released by Starpix shows actors Will Arnett, left, and Jason Bateman, from the revived series "Arrested Development," holding chocolate-covered frozen bananas at the Bluth's Original Frozen Banana stand in the Times Square section of New York on Thursday, May 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Starpix, Marion Curtis)
Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, May 20, 2013 9:15AM EDT
TORONTO -- It didn't take much convincing for the "Arrested Development" cast to get behind creator Mitch Hurwitz's unconventional plan to revive the beloved comedy.
The offbeat show chronicling the lives of the quirky Bluth family makes its much-anticipated comeback next week in typically atypical fashion.
As most fans know, "Arrested Development" -- which ran for three seasons on Fox before it was cancelled in 2006 -- isn't returning to network TV and can only be seen on Netflix, with all 15 new episodes available to stream starting May 26.
Hurwitz's pitch to the cast went something like this: The new episodes would be edited so they could be watched in any order. They'd all follow a similar timeline with each focused on a different character. For example, if George Michael walks into a scene as a secondary character on his father's episode, that same scene may be shown from his perspective in his own episode.
"It was incredibly ambitious and complex, what (Hurwitz) and his writers constructed and scheduled to shoot ... it's like a big, huge puzzle, it's really admirable," said star Jason Bateman in a recent interview.
"He's just got incredible taste and talent.... There's such a faith in him by us, he's just completely unsatisfied with anything that is not worthy of accolade."
But Hurwitz wasn't able to pull off his convoluted vision completely, as he revealed to fans on Twitter.
"Done! Just finished the final mix last night. In two weeks 'Arrested Development' will be yours to do with as you please," he tweeted last week.
"Except for one thing! You gotta watch them in order. Turns out I was not successful in creating a form where the setup follows the punch line."
But fans will no doubt be forgiving and Bateman said he was confident all along that the cast and crew could take risks with this crop of new episodes.
"I think, I hope, people will be really satisfied with the format of these episodes, that has that kind of complexity and is that ambitious and is that unique," Bateman said.
"I'm not sure there's an audience that is better suited for that kind of effort, really. (Hurwitz) is trying to do something that is not a retread, he just feels the specific -- albeit small -- audience that really appreciates what he does deserves something more than just a repackaged version of what they've already seen."
Bateman figures the new "Arrested Development" can pull in relatively strong audience numbers, now that it's no longer being held to the benchmarks of prime-time network TV.
"That number doesn't need to be more than a couple million people nowadays. Look at the biggest hits on cable television, the most respected shows are only seen by a million or two million people a week," he said.
Most fans will instinctively consider the group of new episodes the show's fourth season, but Bateman is quick to point out that's not really the case.
Although the series went off the air after three seasons, Hurwitz insisted that the new set of 15 episodes not be referred to as "season 4." Instead, the episodes serve as a prequel of sorts to a long-awaited "Arrested Development" movie, which now finally seems closer to reality.
Bateman said the cast took a pay cut to revive "Arrested Development" on Netflix and he thinks there's a willingness to craft another creative deal to get the movie done too.
"If Fox wanted us to bring the show back as a television series again everybody would be making a much different number on the show. But it's not that, it's a specific package of episodes that tee up Act 2 and Act 3, which will either live in a movie or another package. So we all just want to get back together again and do it in such a way that's financially tolerable for people who are willing to shoot it for us," he said.
"If you want to get it out there and the creatives are willing to roll up their sleeves and do it, it'll get done."