Arrested Development Returns in May! (to Netflix)

The Bluths are back, baby.

Don’t call it a fourth season, but onetime FOX show Arrested Development will return to TV screens in May courtesy of Netflix. That’s the word from the TCAs where members of the show’s cast and crew sat down for a panel discussion this afternoon.

They’ve been filming for a while, even launching a contest where superfans could win a walk-on role. The show, which co-star Michael Cera had a hand in writing, is now in post-production, and the commercial-free episodes should last about 30 minutes, though the lengths will vary.

What’s most interesting is the release strategy. Netflix will release all 14 episodes at once. No big deal, right? Actually, it’s a unique marriage of form and function that combines the distribution opprtunities of on-demand video streaming with the structure of a fractured narrative in a way that’s never been done quite like this. In shorthand: It’s perfect for binge-watching!

Originally, show creator Mitch Hurwitz wanted to do one episode about each character, but he found that the different stories kept intersecting. Per Alan Sepinwall, who live-blogged the panel for Hitfix: “You’ll see the same scene twice from multiple perspectives. “It was an evolution of the format that was necessary.” Bateman adds it’s exclusive to the format Netflix provides, so you can watch a portion of the Michael episode, then click over to Lucille’s episode.”

Bateman also says the Netflix series is “the first act of what we hope to continue and complete in a movie.” (Hence, the aversion to calling these 14 episodes “season four.”) Throw on a Liza Minnelli tune, break out the banana suits, and climb the steps of the Bluth Mobile.