News Column

Netflix Brings Back the Bluths for 'Arrested Development'

May 23, 2013

Frazier Moore

Portia de Rossi only believed it was happening when her agent got the good news from the producers. Michael Cera only believed it was happening when the cameras rolled.

It happened all right. After years of clamoring from fans and rumors firing them up while the cast hung on for a green light, "Arrested Development" has risen from the dead with 15 half-hours premiering en masse on Netflix at 2 a.m. Sunday.

"Arrested Development" is the cock-eyed comedy blessed with a king's ransom of talent and the twisted vision of its mastermind, Mitch Hurwitz, that aired on Fox for three seasons as a cult favorite, then was canceled for low ratings - and maybe because it befuddled everyone who wasn't hooked on its lunacy. (Those original three seasons are available for streaming on Netflix, too.)

"I think the show scored some 'cool points' for dying before its time," Cera says. "But there are still a lot more places for it to go."

Yes, "Arrested Development" died young with a beautiful, if funny- to-look-at, corpse. But its fans weren't ready to bury it. And said so.

"Clearly a lot of people DIDN'T like the show," Jason Bateman allows, "so I guess all we were hearing from were those who do - and that happens to be a brand of people who are not afraid of speaking their minds."

Now reanimated by public outcry, "Arrested" is going new places.

"Mitch and the cast didn't want to do something not as good as the old series," says Bateman, who plays Michael Bluth, the fractious family's would-be mediating presence. "We didn't want to do something lateral or just a retread."

"I think it's new at every opportunity," says Cera (who plays Michael Bluth's straight-arrow son), "while retaining the show's original heart."

The new Netflix season takes the form of what you might call an anthology as it updates viewers, character by character with each episode, on the Bluth family - that once-wealthy, now-broke and at- each-other's-throats clan squabbling in Newport Beach, Calif. The 15 episodes dwell on individual characters during the six-year span from when the series was canceled in 2006 up through 2012.

A wicked homage to the scandals of Enron and Tyco and a loopy foreshadowing of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, "Arrested" premiered in 2003 as a sendup of high-end vanities, greed and corruption as displayed within the Bluth family circle. From the start, it was dense, convoluted and layered, packed with sight gags, self- referential jokes, flashbacks, hand-held cinematography with run-on sequences (promoting improvisation to enhance Hurwitz's scripts) and, of course, its droll, documentarylike narration by Ron Howard, one of the show's executive producers.

Besides de Rossi, Cera and Bateman, the "Arrested" redux brings back Will Arnett, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter, who reconvened in a strategic yet catch- as-catch-can fashion.

And they all join in celebrating "Arrested" viewers, but for whom the show would be long dead and forgotten.

"There are way, way more fans of 'The Big Bang Theory,' " says Cross (who plays Tobias Funke, a quack-psychiatrist-turned-actor- wannabe). "But they're not as passionate as 'Arrested Development' fans - because there's more to be passionate about."

Originally published by FRAZIER MOORE Associated Press.

(c) 2013 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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