Fox’s “Arrested Development” – not bad

Considering all the hype on this new Fox sitcom (9:30pm, Sundays), I checked it out that Sunday night. Hmm…

Basically, it’s about the Bluth family – the eccentric George Bluth, Sr., (played by Jeffrey Tambor, a great character actor) is arrested for some bad investments and accounting in his corporation. The SEC continues to investigate, so the family has to watch its (extremely expensive) spending. Middle son Michael (played by the 1980’s child actor, Jason Bateman) is the Good Sane Son, trying to reform the family and claim the control of the family corporation. However, the family is undermining all his efforts. He’s a widower and has a 13-year old son, George Michael, who tempted (in a near incestuous sense) by his cousin Maebe (pronounced “Maybe”?), a 13-year old siren (who doesn’t seem that attractive in personality; more like a praying mantis). Maebe’s mother (played by Portia deRossi, formerly of “Ally McBeal”) is Michael’s spoiled-brat sister, who’s married to an out-of-work “actor.” The oldest brother Gob (pronounced “Job” (the tested man from the Bible), is a magician, who’s jealous that Michael is trying to make things better (but Gob is a total incompetent about everything anyway). Mrs. Bluth, the matriarch of this clan, loves her wealth, and is not helping Michael (but he’s able to predict his mother, more or less). There’s another brother, who’s apparently quite immature and eccentric too (I don’t recall seeing him in the episode I had watched; but he’s in the commercials, acting rather screwy).

So, there are lots of interesting characters. I like Jason Bateman’s acting (he’s convincing as the responsible, exasperated one). But, maybe I’m not totally impartial – I liked him in NBC’s “The Hogan Family” (he helped carry the show even after Valerie Harper left it). He deserves to finally have a good series, after being in a bunch of cancelled stuff over the last several years. But, it’s weird to see him as the father of a teenager; he has a baby face himself and just exudes a youthful exuberance.

I don’t think the series is a laugh-out-loud kind of funny; of course, then again, there’s no laugh track to give cues to the audience about what’s supposed to be “funny” (for better or for worse; take your pick). But, the scenarios did make a smile on my face and got me reacting “Geez, Michael; get with the program – where do you think your father was hiding the money!” There’s hope that this series will work. On the plus side (it’s not a negative, anyway) – Ron Howard (whose production company is behind “Arrested Development”) is the narrator. Think about it – “Richie Cunningham” of the old “Happy Days” is back on tv (well, his voice anyway). (sorry, I tend to still think of him as Richie, not Opie – I never saw the whole Andy Griffith show (I’m of a generation that knows Andy Griffith as Matlock. Kind of like how I’d think of Henry Winkler as “Fonzie” and John Ritter as “Jack Tripper” and the Dukes of Hazard as the Dukes of Hazard…).

Okay, enough rambling. I’m otherwise still looking for better Sundays…

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