Pierce: Jason Bateman cautious on 'Arrested Development' revival

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Pasadena, Calif. •

Jason Bateman went out of his way to dampen expectations about the upcoming "Arrested Development" revival.

It's big news for fans of the 2003-06 sitcom about the decidedly bizarre Bluth family, which never became a hit but built a devoted following that's positively salivating at the news that 14 new episodes will be released — all at once — on Netflix in May.

That's one more episode than Season 3 of "Arrested Development" when it aired on Fox. But don't you dare call this Season 4 or Bateman will quickly correct you. "In fact, it is not that," he said. "And we should probably make that clear."

So if it's not Season 4, what is it?

It is "simply just the first act of what we hope to continue and complete in a movie, which would be Act 2 and Act 3," Bateman said.

But what if there's no movie? Because no deal has been finalized to produce an "Arrested Development" movie?

Well, there is "certainly a satisfying conclusion to these episodes if, for some unfortunate reason, the movie does not happen," Bateman said. "But they are all meant to work within one another, sort of a hybrid package of 'Arrested Development' stuff."

The original cast is all returning for this revival, but between a limited budget and the stars' various schedules, this isn't exactly the original sitcom. Each of the 14 episodes will be told from one character's viewpoint; each will tell one story.

"If one was to be fair to these episodes, you cannot and should not compare them to what the series was where you had 22 minutes and you had all the characters in every single episode," Bateman said. "This is something that is completely different, on purpose creatively, per the format that Netflix affords us per the long term and larger long form of the whole story."

If that sounds vague, well, yes, it is. On purpose.

But in addition to trying very, very hard to keep spoilers from leaking out, Bateman and series creator/writer/executive producer Mitch Hurwitz don't want you to get your hopes too high. Because they fear sky-high expectations could never be met.

Because even though "Arrested Development" was never a hit, it is looked upon as a comedy classic. A fantastic little series that produced 53 episodes that were comedic gems. And, as much as they're excited to bring the show back, they're worried that they run the risk of tarnishing that legacy.

"I could vomit right this moment," Hurwitz said. "I literally I could vomit on cue. So yes."

After trying to put a lid on expectations, Hurwitz went completely in the other direction. He showed critics a supposed out-take featuring Jessica Walter (Lucille) and Tony Hale (Buster) that was laugh-out-loud funny. Hysterical, even.

I don't really think Hurwitz and Bateman have much to worry about. As long as fans don't let their expectations get completely out of hand.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.