'Arrested Development' reboot update

Thursday, 02 February 2012 12:00 AM Written by 

Arrested_DevelopmentA little bit of a preview of tomorrow's Tuned In column on Netflix debuting its first original scripted series by way of an update on the revival of "Arrested Development."

When it was first announced last fall that Netflix will revive the former Fox sitcom as a series (possibly as a run up to an "Arrested Development" movie), the details were sketchy. Would these be webisodes or full episodes? How many will be made?

Even in his blog post this week, producer Dean Lorey was light on details beyond news that work on the episodes has begun for a 2013 debut.

In chatting with Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, I was able to get answers to a few of my questions about the "AD" reboot.

Read more after the jump. ...

"Arrested Development" fans, Sarandos knows the anticipation is killing you.

"I grew up a TV nerd," he said. "Nothing was more exciting than the 'Gilligan's Island' reunion."

While we might quibble with the comparison in terms of the two properties' quality, I understand his point.

Sarandos said the "AD" episodes will be full 22-23 minute episodes; they will not be webisodes. And they will not carry commercials in keeping with the Netflix streaming formula. A final decision on the number of episodes has not been made but Sarandos said he expects it will be nine or 10.

"We'll figure that out as the storylines are developing," he said, constrasting the Netflix approach with a television network. "We have the flexibility to do what will fit the show. We don't have a fall season to meet. We can be much more flexible in making sure the show is great versus fitting into a cookie cutter format."

Sarandos said Netflix's revival of "Arrested Development" came about after he met executive producer/narrator Ron Howard at an NBA All-Star Game weekend party and the pair discussed how it's tough to revive a show when the cast is no longer under contract and working on assorted projects of their own. Sarandos said he wanted to find a way to bring back "AD" that was "respectful of everybody's outside schedule and doesn't require you to sign up for the next five years." That led to a second meeting with Howard's business partner, Brian Grazer, and a third meeting with "AD" creator Mitch Hurwitz and a fourth meeting with Fox television executives.

"It's interesting because even though it's been over five years since it went off the air, ['AD'] has built its audience through Netflix and sales and rentals of DVDs and syndication on IFC," Sarandos said. "So the actual viewing base is bigger today than when it was taken off the air. That's very unusual for a canceled show."

Sarandos ackowledged that after news of the "AD" pickup, fanboys "came out of the woodwork" asking Netflix to pick up an array of canceled series but "Arrested Development" is the only revived show in the works.

"It's difficult. Shows have complex sets that need to be rebuilt," Sarandos said, likely a reference to spaceship-set sci-fi programs. "This show is unique in that way. We can reassemble everybody in a pretty manageable way. For others, by the time the sets are destroyed and the casts move on, it's difficult to pull off, romantic a notion as it seems."

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