‘Arrested Development’ cast and creator talk new episodes at TCA
The cast of Arrested Development enjoyed another reunion today, this time in front of a room of critics and reporters at the TCA press tour in Pasadena. The Q&A session — which featured creator/executive producer Mitchell Hurwitz along with series stars Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat, and Jeffrey Tambor (David Cross and Tony Hale couldn’t make it) — was rather light on plot detail for the resurrected show, but there were revelations, laughs, and even a peek at a delightful deleted moment. Among the highlights:
• There are 14 new episodes, and they’re all coming your way at once in May.
• This “anthology,” as Hurwitz refers to it, will have a different structure than the previous version of the show. Each episode will be dedicated to a particular character’s point of view, with other characters weaving in and out of that episode. (Don’t expect lots of big group scenes.) So, over the course of these episodes, viewers will revisit a scene from a previous one but in a different context. “You’ll see a scene again, and from the other perspective, you’ll get all this new information,” said Hurwitz. “So it’s kind of an evolution of the storytelling that was necessary.” He discussed the challenge of working around shifting actor availability, as his thesps were in second position (meaning that their first obligation is to the other shows and movies to which they were already committed). “We couldn’t afford to do the show with what these people are worth now,” he added.
• These episodes should not be considered “season 4” of the show, according to Bateman. Think of them as “simply just the first act of what we hope to continue and complete in a movie, which would be Act 2 and 3,” he said. “And eventually a theme park,” quipped Arnett.
• (Yes, a film is still in the works. No, there isn’t a deal in place yet.)
• Asked if there were fears about tarnishing the show’s sterling legacy, Hurwitz cracked: “I could vomit right this moment.”
• Hurwitz and the cast tipped their hats to the passion of the fans (and support of the critics), noting that when the writers first started fleshing out ideas for the the movie, they had to toss out some good ideas because they’d already been covered in fan fiction. (New saying: Fan fiction did it!)
• Hurwitz’s goal with the new version of the show was to catch fans off-guard. “The spirit of this was to surprise fans with something that they didn’t see coming,” he said. “There was so much talk about the movie that we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to still do the movie but to give everybody this thing they didn’t see coming.” Even the initial 10-episode announcement was intentionally misleading, according to Hurwitz: “The idea was, ‘Let’s say there’s 10, and then the fans will be so happy when there’s even more.’”
• Cera has been pulling double duty by working as a writer on the show as well, noting that he had “some wild ideas that didn’t make it.” Hurwitz praised Cera, explaining that he wanted to help him learn a new craft, but “suddenly we were very dependent on Michael Cera being in the writers’ room. He completely understood this complex story, he added to it, he pitched new characters. It became clear that ‘Wow, this is like his first language.’”
• A tease from Walter: “I have finally gotten to play Joan Crawford with laughs,” she declared. She had high praise for the new incarnation of the show (“It’s different than the original Arrested Development and beyond anything I could have hoped”) and marveled at the reconstruction of Lucille’s penthouse “down to the nails and wall… Really surreal.”
• The cast had small dressing rooms, but one large trailer that would be used by the actor who was at the center of that particular week’s episode.
• Before the session began, Netflix showed a teaser trailer for its shows that included a few fleeting images of the new Arrested (including GOB on a cross). But at the very end of the panel, those in the room were treated to a deleted scene from the upcoming episodes. And based on the reaction in the room, it really should be undeleted. Under house arrest in her penthouse, Lucille (Walter) blows smoke into the mouth of mama’s boy Buster (Hale), who has to hustle out to the patio to release her puff of smoke. The process that is repeated multiple times, each time taking an increasing toll on poor Buster.
• After the session, Hurwitz revealed that even though it will no longer be subject to broadcast network restrictions, the show still will feature its trademark bleeps. Also, one of our main characters will wind up naked.