‘Arrested Development’ shuts down production in order to create more episodes

(FOX)

If you were worried that Canadians would be deprived of the upcoming season of 'Arrested Development,' fear not: Netflix Canada will carry it, the company announced this week.

However, that's only part of the series' big news. Much like the show's abrupt ending in 2006, "Arrested Development" has once again halted production. However, this time, it's kind of the opposite situation -- as opposed the number of episodes being reduced (like they were with the second and final seasons), filming has stopped on the current season so that more episodes can be made. Hurray!

Instead of the original ten episodes, which would each focus on a different member of the Bluth family, a whopping 15 episodes are now expected. An update that makes sense, according to David Cross (who plays Tobias Funke), who mentioned in August that there was too much story to fit into such a condensed order. Now, with production stopped, series creator Mitch Hurwitz will reportedly use the time to go over the story and map it accordingly. By January, the actors should be secured for the extension, and in spring of 2013, the first episode of "Arrested Development" Season 4 will be bestowed upon fans.

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What a difference six years can make huh? After the series was unceremoniously axed from the FOX network, it found its niche in DVD sales. From that, a cult following formed, and now, as opposed to finding its home on standard cable, "Arrested Development" will help legitimize streaming web content. With their new Netflix-only season, the sitcom will appeal to its fanbase: viewers who want to watch TV at their own convenience.

And while a Netflix premiere may be unique for a network-turned-cancelled show, a comeback is not. Prior to Seth McFarland's reign as pop culture prince (see: his "SNL" hosting gig, or recent appointment as Oscar host), "Family Guy" floundered for two seasons in 1999 and 2000 before being cancelled by FOX (this seems to be a theme for the network). However, DVD sales and the subsequent cult following proved a bankable fanbase, and "Family Guy" returned in 2005, and still a staple of FOX's Sunday night lineup.

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So, perhaps "Arrested Development's" Netflix premiere reflects not only the power of DVD sales, but also the demands of a generation who choose to watch TV their own way. Streaming services and PVRs allow viewers to watch shows whenever they want, so it makes sense to bring back a series that's been championed by that specific demographic. An extra five episodes edges closer to a standard full season, so while Season 4 is supposed to lay the brickwork for a feature film, it might be smart for showrunners to embrace the demand.

Regardless, at least we can all find comfort in the fact that "Arrested Development's" fourths season won't be carelessly cut short by a ratings-hungry network.