As NetFlix was no doubt hoping, I recently started rewatching all the existing episodes of “Arrested Development,” and I have found myself amazed by it all over again. The writing on the show is dazzlingly funny, dense and smart, and it still confuses me why people didn’t pick up on what they were doing in a bigger way.
One of the things that really holds the show together is the work done by Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth. If you weren’t a fan of the show, the premise is simple. The Bluth Family, headed by George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor), is a rich family who built their fortunes on bad behavior, and as the show begins, the Feds close in on George, forcing Michael to take over the business and somehow keep his family, full of truly terrible people, intact. Bateman’s work in most shows would be the straight guy role, but he scores just as many giant laughs as any of the more colorful characters around him.
I am amazed that there was ever a period of time where Bateman wasn’t working nonstop. I remember as a kid watching him on “Silver Spoons” and recognizing right away that he had a great sense of how to time a joke and how to slam-dunk a punchline. Maybe it’s a good thing he didn’t just roll right into stardom as a kid, because by the time his career really kicked back in, he was older and presumably much more grounded.
That’s certainly how he’s come off every time I’ve interviewed him. He seems like a totally normal guy who enjoys the job but who doesn’t have an inflated sense of privilege. If anything, his timing has become even more sublime over time, and I find that it is frequently the quiet asides from Bateman that flatten me in the show. Just watching him react to the various things that come out of the mouth of Tobias Funke (the marvelously squirm-worthy David Cross) is worth a revisit of the series.
I’ve seen one episode of the new series so far, and I can report that it feels like no time at all passed. The show’s voice is intact, and everyone seems to have stepped right back into their characters. And when you see Bateman’s reaction to the ostrich… well, let’s just say it’s great to have the Bluths back.
“Arrested Development” will premiere on May 26th exclusively on NetFlix, all 15 new episodes at the same time, and since that’s my birthday, I’m going to pretend that they intentionally chose that date to give me a gift. In the meantime, if you’re itching for that date to arrive, you can check out “The Arrested Development Documentary,” which is available via VOD right now.