Like with TV shows on DVD, Netflix Watch Instantly gives us the opportunity to marathon through TV shows, watching one episode after another, with no wait-time between episodes, except for what we force ourselves to take for things like eating, sleeping and other life-responsibilities. Watching a TV show that way, rather than having to wait a week for each new episode, or months for the next season, likely affects how we perceive the show. Though there’s something to be said for suspense, I’ve actually found that, with certain shows, I’ve enjoyed a season more in a Netflix or DVD re-watch, than I did when I watched it on television and had to wait for each new episode.
The point of the above takes us to the potential game-changer that is Netflix’s original programming. When the subscription streaming video service premiered their new original show Lilyhammer, they didn’t do it one episode at a time. Every episode of the first season was available at once, allowing viewers to decide if they wanted to watch the whole season in one sitting, or space them out at their leisure. The same set-up will apparently be the case for Arrested Development, which is due to be revived and made available next year.
According to Vulture, series creator Mitch Hurwitz and some of the cast of A.D. made an onstage appearance together in Las Vegas recently for a Netflix-sponsored event, and it was confirmed by Netflix's Ted Sarandos that when Arrested Development does premiere on Netflix, all ten episodes of Season 4 will be posted on Netflix at once. Production on the show will begin this summer, and from the sound of it, Hurwitz will may be using Netflix’s all-at-once launch to the show’s advantage. Or, at the very least, he has that in mind as he’s looking to re-develop the show.
From what Vulture reports, the original plan for Season 4 was for each episode to be set up as a self-contained story focusing on a specific character, but that concept has evolved “into becoming more like the old show again.” This change reportedly comes from Hurwitz looking to take advantage of the fact that all ten episodes will be made available at once...
"There's going to be some mystery sprinkled throughout this [but] instead of watching one a week and try to get ahead of it, the hope is [fans] will watch them all together and then go back and look for clues and connections," Hurwitz explained. "We'd also like to use the technology to provide additional material, where you might be able to access another part of the story."
Netflix is already a game-changer for television and on-demand video, but this could take things to the next level. It sounds like Hurwitz is essentially saying that he’s adjusting the way he’s writing the series’ fourth season to benefit from Netflix’s somewhat alternative way of handling their original programming. You have to figure that writers are already doing this to some extent, conforming their story-telling to whatever format the network has set up for them. It’s how we get cliff-hangers timed perfectly for mid-season hiatuses or the finale, after all, or holiday-timed episodes. But shaping the season around the idea that viewers will be watching it all at once, or in clumps of multiple episodes, rather than on a week-to-week basis is new, excluding miniseries, I suppose. It’s going to be very interesting to see how noticeable this is when watching Season 4, and whether this proves to be a good thing for the much-anticipated series' return.
In the meantime, Vulture also reported that there’s a chance for even more Arrested Development on Netflix, as Hurwitz said they would “love this to be the first first of many visits.”