Creator Mitch Hurwitz spoke to USA Today this week about the new season of Arrested Development and revealed some more details about how the show will look when it debuts a new run of original episodes on Netflix this spring. Each of the 13 to 14 episodes (it seems like Netflix and the folks behind the show still haven't decided exactly how many episodes they're making) will focus on a single character, with Hurwitz revealing that Jason Bateman's Michael Bluth is the only character who appears in every single one of the new episodes. "The show will look very different," Hurwitz explains, calling the new season a "very, very complex puzzle [which] slowly reveals itself, as the moment you saw in one show will reappear in another show from a different character's perspective. If people watch it all at once, it will seem like a giant Arrested Development. It's really tailored for Netflix." He adds, "It would be impossible to get everyone together at the same time" to film it… Contractually, we couldn't use all the characters in every episode; they were not free to do as much television as they want."
The USA Today piece confirms that the show will debut in May (though no specific date is set yet). Last week, an alleged list of episode titles and a May 4th premiere date was leaked via a Fox press site, and the piece doesn't confirm these episode names (which list some characters as getting two episodes), but they seem accurate based on all this new info about the show. Mitch Hurwitz calls the new season the "first act to what we eventually want to do, which is a big movie," although a movie has not officially been greenlit and that happening likely depends upon the success of the impending season. Each episode will get you caught up with a specific character after 2006's then-series finale, taking them to present day. Hurwitz elaborates, "You don't see them all together until you see the movie. I can assure you that the characters are just as damaged, self-involved and self-righteous as ever."
It's a huge risk to change the format of the show creatively in such a big way going into the new season. Much of what fans loved about Arrested Development was the complicated interweaving plotlines featuring the entire ensemble – though the new episodes look to be plenty complicated and interweaving, just with only a few characters appearing in each episode at a time. Some of my favorite scenes from the original show were family meetings that featured the entire cast bouncing off each other, but it makes sense that it's impossible to wrangle all nine cast members, who are each busy with various movie and TV projects, together to all appear in the same episode. With only four months to go before the new season's debut in May, it'll be no time before we get to see how big an effect this major formatting tweak will have upon the quality and style of this beloved show.