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May 24th, 2013
06:44 PM ET

Cult show 'Arrested Development' returns

"Arrested Development" was a show that was truly ahead of its time, one that the network television audience had trouble computing a decade ago, back when many still waited a whole week for a new episode.

Now the show is back, in a new time, and a new place. At 3:01 a.m. ET on Sunday, "Arrested Development" returns exclusively on Netflix. Fans having premiere parties should grab their cornballers and settle in, because they can binge on all 15 episodes at once.

"This Netflix model of releasing shows just really changes the entire, kind of, business of how a show is promoted," said Meeta Agrawal of Entertainment Weekly. "Once it all comes out on Sunday, you're going to have to see, kind of, a fan-led promotion, it's going to have to be more grassroots, from the people who have been watching it."

A lot has changed in the seven years since FOX canceled the series, like TV itself.

"This is just like the beginning of what's to come," said Agrawal. "Pretty soon you're not going to, as a viewer, really notice is this coming from a channel or, you know, a Netflix."

YouTube was only a year old when the Bluth family was bounced in February of 2006. Blockbusters were not even boarded up, yet.

When season one debuted in 2003, the biggest family sitcom on the old-fashioned tube was "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Let's just say the matriarch of "Arrested Development," Lucille Bluth, is no Marie Barone.

The show was a critical hit, winning 6 Emmys and a Golden Globe. But network viewers at the time declared it too edgy, too cool for the room.

"Netflix was like a  perfect partner for "Arrested Development." For any show a little on the edge, creative, they were there in support of us, but they didn't feel like that heavy network presence," said actor Portia de Rossi, who plays Lindsay Bluth Fünke in the series.

Maybe it was ahead of its time, in terms of taste, and technology. When it went off the air, DVD sales picked up, DVR's filled up, and "Arrested Development" reruns became some of the most popular shows to stream online.

Which is why Netflix is gambling on the Bluths to win big. The company launched a guerrilla marketing campaign for the show. Famous "Bluth's Frozen Banana" stands popped up in Los Angeles and New York for the season four premiere. The Yankees even tweeted a photo of the banana stand from their stadium.

And the ensemble cast of the show is just as psyched as the fans.

"It's thrilling because the writing's been so brilliant, it's as if seven years never went by, which is nice when you're my age!" said Jessica Walter, who plays Lucille Bluth in the series.

"We all would have done it a long time ago, and we'll do it all more in the future if they'll have us," said actor Jason Batemen, who plays Michael Bluth in the series.

But in this edgier, new zeitgeist, can "Arreste Development" stand out like it did before, and can the cast reclaim the endearing despicable-ness of the first three seasons?

Netflix sure hopes so, or else stockholders may be stealing the series' famous catch phrase - "I've made a huge mistake."

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