The Bluth family is making a comeback. That’s right — the wonder that is “Arrested Development” is back for a fourth season. Netflix landed exclusive rights to the new season, which will air sometime in 2013. The online streaming service beat out other major players like Hulu and Showtime for the rights, presumably aiming to redeem its reputation after that disastrous price-raising nonsense.
“Arrested Development” is actually the third series Netflix has purchased the rights to, furthering the company’s push to produce more content in addition to supplying it. The streaming service also bought both director David Fincher’s (“The Social Network”) revamp of the original British political drama “House of Cards” and a new series, “Orange Is The New Black,” from the creator of “Weeds.”
If the Netflix launch of such exclusive content is a success, then the company’s streaming service offers a whole new way of viewing TV. Though in the future the Internet might replace cable TV in its entirety, there’s also the chance that streaming services like Netflix could be used as an accompaniment to cable programming.
Many series have attempted to air successful webisodes, often coming away with little result. However, put these webisodes under the umbrella of the successful company like Netflix and they instantly become more credible. Instead of glorified advertisements, webisodes could become actual mini-episodes in their own right, able to be viewed alone on a subscription service, or in complement with the actual series airing on TV.
The new season of “Arrested Development” has been described as webisode-ish, in that each episode will follow one character, instead of the traditional format of following all the characters in interconnected storylines. Once the new season airs, Netflix will have an idea of how such a webisode-type format will be received. If it’s successful, the streaming service could continue producing original content, trying out mini-episodes or even releasing deleted scenes along with the episode, as a consumer would get with a DVD.
Additional series, besides “Arrested Development,” could jump on the Netflix bandwagon as well. Why not bring back other cancelled cult favorites — “Firefly,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Terriers” and countless more?
There is the potential problem as to how Netflix will finagle the financial side. It doesn’t seem logical that many fans of “Arrested Development” — or fans of any other series for that matter, die-hard as they may be — will actually buy a subscription to Netflix simply to watch the new episodes. The company may have to move to airing advertisements as well (a first), which could also be undesirable.
If Netflix manages to smooth things out financially, it may have a very profitable idea here, one that could change the way we view TV altogether. And why not? As it stands now, the system could do with a change. All in all, it’s easily summed — out with the old, in with the new.