When one of the five major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the CW) cancels a low-rated but beloved show, fans usually rally in an attempt to save it. In recent years, some network castoffs have been saved by cable channels, such as when ABC's "Cougar Town" found a new home on TBS in 2012, just weeks after being canceled. However, when Fox's "Arrested Development" was canceled in 2006 after its third season, the cable networks were just barely getting into original programming and weren't interested in picking up a discarded series.
Though the series was never a winner in the ratings, it has a small but very loyal fan base that rallied in support of a proposed movie based on the dysfunctional Bluth family. Though co-creator Mitchell Hurwitz and cast members all wanted to do the film, the project never really took off. Fans had all but given up on the movie when Netflix, the streaming media giant, announced in the fall of 2011 that it would resurrect the show for a fourth season. Maybe it wasn't the movie they had been waiting for, but fans soon realized that ten half-hour episodes were even better than ninety minutes of movie.
Of course, after so many rumors that turned out to be untrue, people didn't believe that the show had actually been resurrected. Star Jason Bateman had to take to his Twitter account in order to confirm that Netflix was indeed going forward with a plan for ten new episodes with the entire original cast in tow. He promised they would film the episodes sometime around summer 2012 for an early 2013 release. Later, it was announced that the producers had so much good material to work with that the show order would be increased from ten to fourteen episodes. Fans rejoiced, and Netflix became more popular than ever. As the May 2013 date approached, some questioned why no announcement had been made about a fifth season or beyond.
In the meantime, Netflix released its first original programming series, "House of Cards," starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. The show was a huge hit, quickly becoming the most-viewed show on the service. A second season had already been filming before news broke of its success, which made some "Arrested Development" fans uncomfortable. Then, Netflix announced that all fourteen episodes would be released all at once in May, with no order for a fifth season at all.
Some fans questioned how "House of Cards" could get a second season while an established show like "Arrested Development" would only get a single season. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that the ability to bring back the series from the dead was a "fantastic one-off" that they couldn't repeat for several more seasons. Hastings also said that they saw the resurrection of the series as a "wildly successful tactic" that could not be sustained and wasn't a part of their strategy moving forward. Instead, Netflix intends to develop more original fare, such as the Ricky Gervais' series "Derek," another half-hour comedy that is already attracting interest.
Another reason why it may have been hard to get more seasons of "Arrested Development" off the ground is the limited availability of the cast. Since the show went off the air, Will Arnett has found a steady job on NBC's "Up All Night," while lead star Jason Bateman has become a bona fide movie star after successes like "Horrible Bosses" and "Identity Thief" with Melissa McCarthy. The two actors also have a production company together that has several projects in the works that will keep them busy for the foreseeable future. Michael Cera has also become a movie star, turning in acclaimed performances in indie darlings such as "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "Superbad."
However, all is not lost for fans of the show. Hastings did say that any other service or network may still be able to nail down a deal to reunite the Bluth family for additional episodes of "Arrested Development." In addition, there is still the long-rumored movie that was put on hold when Netflix announced it would produce season four of the show. After the fourteen episodes are released in May, there is a good chance the film will be put back into production, since the actors and producers have all expressed their desire to have the film made. Until then, ardent fans will have fourteen half-hour episodes to help heal their wounds as they hope that the movie, a season five or both, get made.