Netflix held an Arrested Development panel today at the Television Critics Association tour, with Mitch Hurwitz and all of the cast but David Cross and Tony Hale present. Prior to the panel, Netflix confirmed that the new season will be 14 episodes and that they will debut all at once sometime in May (though no official date has been set). Here are some highlights from the Arrested Development panel (via Alan Sepinwall at Hitfix):
“Listen, [the new season] didn’t seem as impossible to me until we got into it, and I realized how impossible it was. I’m close to all these people, we’ve all remained close in different ways. I think I just always held out hope that this would work out — and it was a very naive hope… We shouldn’t be here.” - Mitch Hurwitz
Hurwitz said there was a point during the writing process that the writers realized Arrested Development fan fiction had beat them to a story.
“Everybody else kind of grew up and got other shows, and the only way we would get everybody for what we will loosely call an anthology… was to dedicate each episode to a character’s a point of view” - Mitch Hurwitz who added that it’s “almost a Choose Your Own Adventure sort of thing” that all together makes “one giant 700 minute Arrested Development.”
“It is not ‘season four,’ we should probably make that clear,” added Bateman. “Everybody sort of intermingles through each person’s individual episode, but it is a ‘Lindsay’ episode or a ‘Gob’ episode that we guest star in.” - Jason Bateman
Bateman called the episodes “basically just the first act that we hope to complete in a movie, which will be acts 2 and 3,” adding, “The episodes will set that up, and one will not work without the other. This will, however, provide a satisfying conclusion if for some unfortunate reason the movie doesn’t happen, but they are all meant to work within one another as a hybrid package of Arrested Development stuff.”
“This is the first act of what we would like to complete in a movie,” he said. “These are episodes that set that up. One does not work without the other.” - Hurwitz
Even though the episodes seem to take place simultaneously with each one following a different character during the same time period, Hurwitz says, “There is an order that we put these together to put in the maximum number of surprises.”
Michael Cera on writing for the show for the first time: “I had some wild ideas that didn’t make it.”
They’re still editing the episodes, and they will be varying lengths. Hurwitz says, “In general, we’re just going to try to make these under a half-hour. Try to take the cable TV comedy model.”
“It’s different from Arrested Development, and beyond anything I had hoped. I hope there’s a movie.” - Jessica Walter
“We couldn’t afford to do the show with what these people are worth now.” - Hurwitz
“We’ve still held back information about the plot to reward the fans for sticking with us. Being surprising was easy when nobody was watching. That’s not going to be the case this time.” - Hurwitz
“Everywhere I look, it’s the funniest person I’ve ever seen. It was surreal. There we all were, nine years later. Except for the two kiddies who grew up, we were all the same.” - Walter on reuniting with the cast for the first time.
“Thanks again for all your support, during the Fox years, until now, during the years we weren’t on. We’re very very happy to be back together for these episodes, and you guys are largely responsible for that.”
The gang closed out the panel by screening a cut scene from the new season, in which Lucille blows cigarette smoke into Buster’s mouth and he blows it onto the patio for her. The scene went over insanely well with the press. Can’t wait until an unspecified date in May!