ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT And The Novel For Television

May 21st, 2013 | researchmaterial

Fraction kicked this interview with Mitch Hurwitz over to me last night, in which he discusses the series of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT he’s done at Netflix.  As with Netflix’ previous two original offerings, all fifteen episodes of the series will be released for streaming simultaneously.  Also, he knew he was getting all fifteen episodes up front.

And he gets into some interesting stuff about how that environment allowed him to structure the show in ways that were new for him:

Anyway, I started sketching it out, and I had this funny idea for Maeby. It doesn’t quite fit into the master family story, but it’s funny for Maeby, and I do have this funny bit for Tobias where he writes pop songs. He’s written a song called "I Kissed a Boy." I just had all these crazy notions, and suddenly I was overwhelmed by the task of squeezing all these unrelated stories into a movie that has a central plot.

Then I had this idea. "Well, what if there’s an anthology show?" I’ve been in TV for a long time, and one of the ideas that gets pitched a lot is the idea of an anthology show. Those really worked in the Fifties and Sixties with shows like The Twilight Zone, Route 66 and Alfred Hitchcock. It’s a different thing every week.

So I thought, "I might have an opportunity now because of what may or may not be an abiding interest in these characters. I could do an anthology series, like Maeby, episode 3 or George Michael, episode 5." I just loved this idea.

I was working on simultaneous storytelling – "This is what happens from 2006 to 2013." The characters are going to bump into each other. You gotta know that George Senior is going to run into Michael. You can’t just have George Senior doing his thing.

We ended up with an eight-hour movie of Arrested Development where the pieces do kind of come together. Not only was the show told out of sequence, it was shot out of sequence.

And, whether it’s occurred to him or not, he’s talking about big interleaved novelistic structure.  Which, it seems to me, is entirely perfect for a release system where one can (if one’s blowing off work for the day) watch the whole damn thing in a single sitting.