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Arrested Development is Back! But Who Will Capitalize?

Open up the banana stand and put some gas in the stair-car (and watch out for hop-ons), America: Arrested Development is coming back! Creator Mitch Hurwitz announced yesterday at the cast’s panel at the New Yorker Festival that he was halfway through writing the long-rumored Arrested Development movie, and that the cast will shoot 10 television episodes beforehand. The Emmy-winning show, which was cancelled in 2006, followed the eclectic Bluth family, and starred Jason Bateman, Michael Cera and Will Arnett, among many others.

The new episodes will shoot the show next summer, and the episodes will be shown in early 2013. Hurwitz also said that each episode will likely focus on an individual character, and what they’ve been up to since we left them in 2006. That’ll help to alleviate the scheduling issues that are sure to arise, since many members of the cast have moved on to other high-profile projects.

Since the cult classic left the air, it’s gained an even greater following. Through reruns on IFC and other networks, its availability on both Hulu and Netflix, and strong DVD sales, AD may now have enough fans for new episodes and a movie to be profitable. But Fox, the network that aired original AD episodes, isn’t attached to this reboot. Hurwitz mentioned a few possible places for the new series to air. Whatever network airs the episodes will get a tidal wave of good will from AD’s rabid fans that have clamored for new episodes for years. So where will Arrested Development land? Here’s a breakdown of the two that Hurwitz mentioned, plus a few suggestions:

Showtime: The pay-cable network considered resurrecting the show in early 2006, but the deal fell through and AD was cancelled. Bringing it back once and for all would surely bring a new group of subscribers to Showtime that didn’t pay for the channel before.
Netflix: This, like Showtime, was a possible landing spot, according to Hurwitz. More than any other company, getting the rights to new episodes of Arrested Development could be a huge coup for Netflix. Netflix has struggled through a terrible 2011, in which they’ve been raked over the coals for their price hikes, for losing their streaming deal with Starz, for their awkward apology and renaming of their mail-away DVD service as Qwikster, and for oddly flaunting their integration with Facebook, only to pull the rug under most of their subscribers by saying that it won’t be available in the US. Saturday Night Live even spoofed CEO Reid Hastings this past weekend, in a deleted sketch. If Netflix got this Arrested Development deal, they’d reverse some of that negativity and finally get some exclusive, in-demand content. Fans would once again have to declare Netflix the king of online streaming media.
Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video: On the other side of Netflix’s problems is its competition. Both of these sites have been biting at the heels of Netflix for a few years now, and landing an exclusive deal with Arrested Development could be the big knockout blow that either company needs to take control of the streaming market. Hulu, which might soon be bought by a bigger company, just reached 1 million subscribers, so they’ll have money to throw at some brand beautification like this. Amazon has been willing to put themselves out there for good publicity, so this would fit that mold. If either site got this deal, their public awareness would skyrocket.
NBC: It might not make the most sense for NBC to pick up these episodes, since the Peacock’s problem the last few years has been their lack of broad hit shows, not a dearth in small, critically acclaimed comedies. But can you imagine this Thursday night lineup? Talk about a dream team:

8:00 Community
8:30 Arrested Development (of all of NBC’s shows, AD probably has the closest comic sensibilities to Community)
9:00 The Office
9:30 Parks and Recreation
10:00 30 Rock

What a lineup. I mean, come on!
A new site:  In reality, AD’s fans are strong enough that they’ll go anywhere for new episodes. So why doesn’t Hurwitz and company just start their own site and put the episodes there? They shouldn’t have a problem charging for advertising, and they could easily profit. Hurwitz and the amazing cast and writers put together this incredible show, so they should get to reap the rewards. Wherever Arrested Development lands, though, this is a great day for all comedy fans. A beloved show without enough fans to last on network TV is finally getting its due. And above all else, we’re gonna get more Franklin the Puppet jokes. It’s about time.

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