The Arrested Development story is a TV nerd’s dream come true. A smart, quirky, new kind of comedy struggles to attract an audience. Despite being critically acclaimed, the series fails to draw in enough viewers (and playfully mocks its own demise) and gets canned after the third season. Like any movie or show that develops a cult following, the DVD series makes its rounds, being passed around groups of friends like a sacred text. Enter the Netflix era.
On-demand Internet streaming has made it possible to re-watch and share everything from obscure movies to TV shows cancelled before their time. After multiplying its audience via digital rental, rumors of an Arrested Development film or new season buzzed for years. Then Netflix made it a reality, rounding up the entire original main cast, several recurring characters and a slew of new guests (and, yes, there are still plans to make a subsequent movie).
If any beloved-but-cancelled show deserves a revival, it’s Arrested Development. The comedy revolves around the Bluth family — a neurotic, criminal, self-centered circus with one beacon of sanity at the helm: Michael (Jason Bateman). In addition to accessible wacky family hijinks, the excellent writing brings out more subtle comedy. The series is full of so many inside jokes and little nuances, you can watch it again and again and still discover new, hilarious bits — which is why the Netflix format is so perfect for this new release.
In this fourth and final season, debuting Sunday, more than seven years after the last season has aired, we’ll get to see what every Bluth has been up to — each character gets episodes devoted to his or her story. The season will be available in its entirety at 3 a.m. (or right at the stroke of midnight on Sunday, Pacific time.)
Prepare for the new season with IFC’s 24-hour Bluth-a-thon beginning at 6 a.m.
Saturday. Fire up the ol’ cornballer, assemble your frozen banana bar and just forget about a normal sleep schedule this weekend — Arrested Development is back.
WEDNESDAY MAY 22
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Season Finale, 9 p.m., NBC) – In this two-hour finale, a run-of-the-mill (by SVU standards) indecent exposure arrest takes a crazy turn when the detectives are unable to ID the fingerprint-less suspect. The suspect eludes the squad left and right until he corners Benson in a dangerous situation. And never fear: SVU has been renewed for a 15th season.
Modern Family (Season Finale, 9 p.m., ABC) – The gang joins Phil in Florida where he is mourning the death of his mother with his dad (Fred Willard). Gloria discovers she has an outstanding warrant in the state and Cameron gets his Golden Girls on with a group of women in a retirement community. A subsequent fifth season has been confirmed.
The Real World: Portland (10 p.m., MTV) – Bird’s boyfriend visits; Nia “overfeeds” Daisy the dog, and you know the bitch does it on purpose.
THURSDAY MAY 23
Showville (Series Premiere, 9 p.m., AMC) – AMC takes another stab at quirky reality shows (see Small Town Security) with this traveling talent show competition. Each week, actor/comedian Alec Mapa and choreographer Lisette Bustamante visit a different all-American town looking for local talent. After auditions and two days of training, one performer will be selected by the community and awarded $10,000.
Small Town Security (10 p.m., AMC) – Irwin tries to secretly sell Chief’s Mustang as she deals with her anger issues; Brian takes Crista on a stakeout.
Hannibal (10 p.m., NBC) – Last week, the human cello; next up: a totem pole of bodies. Oh, Hannibal, you so crazy!
FRIDAY MAY 24
Maron (10 p.m., IFC) – Learning about his ex-wife’s new baby encourages Marc to jump back in the dating pool. With a dominatrix.
SUNDAY MAY 26
Behind the Candelabra (9 p.m., HBO) – The epic Sunday night HBO lineup skips a week to make room for this diamond-encrusted film based on the memoir by Scott Thorson, Liberace’s former lover. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Michael Douglas stars as the piano man with Matt Damon playing the much-younger Thorson. The movie focuses on their unlikely relationship and its ultimate demise.
Mad Men (10 p.m., AMC) – Rodger has a recurring dream; Joan hits the beach. I’d like to promise some Christina Hendricks bikini action, but judging by recent episodes, it’s probably more dark and depressing than fun and sexy.
CONTACT JAC KERN: firstname.lastname@example.org or @jackern