The overall effect is a sort of hypertext array for the 15 episodes.
"Mitch made it a choose-your-own-adventure season, in that you can watch any episode out of order and it makes sense but, depending on which order you watch them, the series kind of tells a different story," says de Rossi (who plays spoiled materialist sister Lindsay).
Not that "Arrested Development" has ever chosen the simple or obvious path. From the start, it was dense, convoluted and layered, packed with sight gags, self-referential jokes, flashbacks, hand-held cinematography with run-on sequences (promoting improvisation to enhance Hurwitz's scripts) and, of course, its droll, documentarylike narration by Ron Howard, one of the show's executive producers.
On Fox, the show won six Emmys and a Peabody as well as critics' love while always fighting for its life in the ratings. But Hurwitz is philosophical about the obstacles his show has faced. They seem to have given him license to obliterate boundaries that otherwise would have hemmed him in.
"All of the limitations," he says brightly, "are great creative opportunities."
That applied to the new episodes' shooting pace, which Arnett describes as "run-and-gun and crazy."
"But it really worked to our advantage. It was 'OK, get over here, here we go,' and we were right back into it," says Arnett (who plays Lindsay's older brother, Gob, a preening, mediocre stage magician). "After working together on the series before, all of us just kind of knew what we're doing. There's an implicit trust there. I know that sounds corny, but it's true."
This is a mutual admiration society: The cast heaps praise on Hurwitz, who volleys it back at his actors. And they all join in celebrating "Arrested" viewers, but for whom the show would be long dead and forgotten.
"There are way, way more fans of 'The Big Bang Theory,'" notes David Cross (who plays Tobius Funke, a quack-psychiatrist-turned-actor-wannabe). "But they're not as passionate as 'Arrested Development' fans — because there's more to be passionate about."
"In either a conscious or unconscious way, our audience thinks — and rightly so — it's THEIR show," says Jeffrey Tambor (who plays jailbird-patriarch George Bluth Sr.).
"A lot of people have told me over the years that they would build friendships around the show," Ron Howard adds. "They would judge first dates on whether that person likes 'Arrested Development' or not. It was a means of evaluation."
Does that mean there might be children walking around today whose parents were united by "Arrested Development"?
"I think that's fair to assume," Howard says with a laugh.
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