The company’s content chief, Ted Sarandos, made the announcement Wednesday, adding that all 14 episodes will roll out all at once in May. The news comes after reports began circulating that May 4 would be the debut date -- Sarandos didn’t confirm the actual date.
The quirky sitcom returns after a seven-year vacation. The show, about the SoCal-based Bluth family, originally aired on Fox from 2003 to 2006 before getting resurrected by Netflix.
The show’s stars -- including Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walter -- were joined by series creator Mitch Hurwitz for the show’s panel Wednesday at the Television Critics’ Assn. press tour.
Here’s what we learned:
--Each episode will focus on one character, with the others guest starring. And shooting those episodes became complicated as the story jumps around in time and order.
--They’re not trying to make this something it’s not. “We had to decide early on not to be precious about it.” Hurwitz said of bringing the show back. Later adding: “We have to remember that the spirit of this was to surprise fans with something they didn’t see coming.” Still, it will have a different feel. “This is something completely different on purpose, per the format Netflix affords us and the larger story we can do,” Bateman said. Arnett chimed in: “It’s its own thing.”
--Is Hurwitz worried he’ll tarnish the show’s legacy? “I could literally vomit at this moment, so yes.”
--Playing with emotions. Hurwitz said he “always” knew they’d do 14 episodes, but had initially announced they’d be doing 10 at first so fans would be happy when they heard they’d be getting more.
--Keeping order. Though all 14 episodes will be released at once, Hurwitz has devised a recommended order in which viewers should watch them: “It’s like an album. There is an order that we have put together to create the maximum number of surprises.”
--Writers block. Michael Cera, who plays the ever hip George Michael, joined the writers room and quickly became indispensable, Hurwitz said.
--Move over “Community”? “14 episodes and a movie!” might be the new social media movement. Bateman is hopeful an “Arrested Development” movie is the next thing that becomes a reality: “Mitch’s writing is so pleasantly dense; I don’t think it’s conducive to something that has commercials in it.” He even suggests having a movie on Netflix could be a possibility.
--Time management. For those plotting just how much time to set aside to binge-watch the 14 episodes, plan on each running about 30 minutes. Hurwitz said they’re still in post-production, and some episodes will vary in length, but they’re aiming to mimic the cable comedy model with episode timing.