Gob (Will Arnett), Michael (Jason Bateman) and the rest of the Bluth clan resume their bickering in May thanks to Netflix.
PASADENA, CALIF. — Did Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz really think Fox’s cult-favorite comedy, canceled after three low-rated seasons, would ever come back?
“I certainly didn’t think of it in terms of TV,” he says, partly because “it would be impossible to get everyone together at the same time” to film it. But a few logistical somersaults — and a deep-pocketed benefactor in Netflix, the streaming service with 23 million subscribers — has improbably revived the dysfunctional-family sitcom, nearly seven years after Fox dumped it.
Netflix is responding to a new generation of fans who discovered the show online and lapped up 53 episodes with the oddball Bluths. In the process, it’s turning the traditional broadcast model of weekly episodic television on its head.
The service subsisted on a sometimes-moldy collection of movies until it began snapping up beloved TV shows as a way to keep customers watching. They’ve grown to represent 70% of viewing on the service.
Now Netflix is making shows of its own: Starting next month, it will unveil six series that viewers won’t find anywhere else, following a pattern set by pay-TV channels such as HBO and Showtime, who lured new subscribers with can’t-miss shows such as The Sopranos and Homeland. And it will offer them wherever it does business, in Europe, South America, Canada and Mexico.
A steady stream of streaming originals includes:
— House of Cards (Feb. 1), a darkly cynical political drama from producer David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) that stars Kevin Spacey as a scheming congressman who plots revenge when he’s outmaneuvered for a political post. “The swath of his sword is never-ending,” Spacey says. Fincher directed the first two episodes, and a second 13-episode season is planned by early 2014 as part of the estimated $100 million commitment.
— Hemlock Grove (April 19), a murder mystery set in a Pennsylvania steel town in which “killer creatures” are among the suspects. Produced by Eli Roth (Grindhouse), it’s based on a novel.
— Arrested Development (May), reviving the Emmy-winning series, after reruns were among Netflix’s biggest draws.
— Orange is the New Black (late spring), based on the comedic novel set in a women’s prison, from producer Jenji Kohan (Weeds). Jodie Foster is among its directors.
— Derek (summer), the latest series from writer-star Ricky Gervais, about lovable losers who work in a nursing home.
— Lilyhammer (fall), a second season of last year’s series starring Steve Van Zandt (The Sopranos) as an ex-mobster in the witness protection program who’s transplanted to Norway.
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