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Remote Life: Taking it one episode at a time

By Samantha Suchland

April 24, 2012 11:24 p.m.

After six years of Tobias Funke-style emotional investment, “Arrested Development” fans will be given a lump sum return. The 10 episodes of the new season will be dropped on Netflix.

No matter how much I love watching TV on my computer and having access to shows at the click of a Netflix queue, the new “Arrested Development” plan doesn’t sit right.

I’ve always loved discovering full television seasons on Netflix and burrowing into my couch cushions for a weekend marathon. But once I’m caught up I’m excited to watch with the rest of the world.

Am I being a stick in the mud? According to Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd, Netflix wants to differentiate itself from traditional TV outlets by dropping full seasons rather than releasing one episode at a time. It sounds like Netflix thinks this is something that TV viewers want, but is it?

When shows air on TV, one episode per week, the time in between is ritualized with water cooler-style recapping, plot analyzing, hunting down promos for next week’s episode and actively avoiding major spoilers.

Netflix’s new plan leaves me wondering if we’ve given up on the adage good things come to those who wait.

Yes, I am aware of the irony of lamenting the demise of delayed gratification when our generation equates a 30-second Hulu commercial to the time it takes a glacier to melt. However, there are moments when even I want to stop and savor what I’m watching. Waiting six years for a new episode of “Arrested Development” seems like a good reason to slow down and enjoy what we’re getting.

Are we all going to be on Netflix at midnight the day the season drops, fingers hovering above the play button? Will we be willing to wait after each episode to catch up and discuss the show’s progress? I can see it now, gorging ourselves on Bluth debauchery, discussing at the end and having nothing left until a reunion show 10 years down the line.

Maybe I’m officially old technology-wise and am lamenting an attack on what I consider the correct way to watch TV.

Like most “Arrested Development” fans, I actually first watched the show online. MSN.com had all three seasons, and I was instantly hooked. I sat down and watched them all by myself at the family computer, inhaling episode after episode.

In a way, this season drop on Netflix isn’t so different than most people’s existing relationship to “Arrested Development.” There isn’t any proof that people will want to wait around to see what happens. After all, that’s the reason the show went off the air in the first place.

While I can’t be certain of the power of “Arrested Development” spread across several weeks, I know that a season drop will be more bitter than sweet. I’m already mourning the moment the Bluth family goes back into hiding. There’s no reason to rush it.

Borrowing from the eloquent Gob Bluth, has Netflix made a huge mistake?

Will you be watching all 10 episodes of “Arrested Development” the day they come out? Email Suchland at [email protected]. “Remote Life” runs every Wednesday.

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Samantha Suchland
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