Whereas "Recurring Developments" simply connects jokes to episodes, NPR's tool shows the episodes where jokes occur, which episodes foreshadow those jokes, and which episodes merely feature those jokes in the background. It also shows where some of the recurring jokes have been combined. It's, yes, a little confusing, but according to NPR reporter/producer Adam Cole—who normally works at the science desk—showing how the show might connect "very disparate" jokes "shows the genius of Arrested Development."
So, for instance, in the second episode of the series the Bluth's "always leave a note" joke is foreshadowed when G.O.B. leaves a note that says "DEAD DOVE Do Not Eat!" That, of course, is related to the repeated gag that G.O.B. often messes up a magic trick.
Cole decided on his own that he was going to re-watch the series before the new episodes were released on May 26. As he did, over the course of "a pretty leisurely" six months, he took notes on the jokes and created a spreadsheet. He cross-referenced his notes with with Reddit boards and fan sites in order to complete his data set. When he presented the idea to the appropriate desks at his employer, they decided to run with it. NPR's Jeremy Bowers, Danny DeBelius, Christopher Groskopf and Alyson Hurt also worked on the graphic. As for whether they've missed anything in their extensive enterprise, Cole said: "It’s humor. It’s very subjective. There’s always room for improvement."
Of course, this has now been the second Arrested Development data visualization to be passed around in recent weeks, but that's not exactly surprising. "We sort of thought, Arrested Development is so popular someone else is going to have this idea," Cole said. (William Beutler of Recurring Developments echoed this in an email writing, "great minds think alike.") And while he said the team behind that graphic "did a great job," NPR's "ups the intricacy," he said, which means it's also "little more overwhelming."
In a way the two graphics work well together. You can use "Recurring Developments" to see which episodes jokes appear in, and then click over to the NPR tool to see how those jokes connect to other jokes.
There's room for all Arrested Development obsessives in the Internet landscape.