“Arrested Development” to return – via Netflix

Oh happy day – frozen bananas for everyone!

If you ever thought about dropping Netflix due to their recent fiascos, you might want to take this into consideration – especially if you were an Arrested Development fan (like yours truly.)

The Emmy-award sitcom is returning with new episodes – via Netflix – in 2013. Arrested Development ran on Fox for three low-rated seasons from 2003-06, producing a total of 53 episodes.

Twentieth Television and producer Imagine Entertainment made the joint announcement on Friday, marking the first time an existing scripted series is being produced on an internet streaming service. The only other known entity who were in talks in acquiring Arrested Development was Showtime.

It is not immediately known how many episodes of Arrested Development would be produced (expect a small number per year.) It is also not yet known how many of the original cast would return – currently, Will Arnett is starring in NBC “comedy” Up All Night while Michael Cera has somewhat of a film career (if you count Scott Pilgrim.) Also unknown if plans for a feature film based on the series will go ahead as scheduled.

The acquisition of Arrested Development is part of a bigger plan as Netflix is beefing up its content slate with original programming plans (recently, Netflix announced it would produce 22 episodes of House of Cards, based on a BBC miniseries), and off-network repeats of hour-long dramas like Mad Men and CW’s serialized programming in syndication-like deals.

Bring back canceled series is nothing new – in the 1980’s, several programs that had short runs on network television (Fame, Too Close For Comfort, Charles In Charge, etc.) were revived for first-run syndication. In 2005, Family Guy returned to television after being canceled by Fox – twice, and was rescued by strong DVD sales and strong ratings for repeats on adult swim. Five years later, Futurama resumed production after a seven-year absence.

Arrested Development won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004 in its rookie season. The series is created by Mitchell Hurwitz  and he, Ron Howard (who does voice narration for the show) and Brian Glazer are executive producers.