Sure, some of our childhood favorites have fallen into obscurity over the years, but some licenses have been reborn, bigger – and better – than ever. Let’s take a look at who’s on top of the Property Ladder.
All I can say is that it’s about damn time. After more than six years, Arrested Development will finally return to entertain audiences with more antics of the dysfunctional Bluth family. It’s been a long and winding road since the series ended in 2006, but soon we’ll see a special “mini-season” on Netflix that will lead up to a much anticipated feature film. I’m a huge fan of the show, and all it took was one episode to hook me. It’s brilliant writing, hilarious characters and talented cast were some of the best ever seen on television. For the uninitiated, here’s a quick overview. Created by Mitch Hurwitz and running three seasons on Fox in 2003-2006, AD told the story of the wealthy Bluth family. When patriarch George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) goes to prison, it falls to level-headed Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) to run the company and keep the family together. This includes his mother Lucille (Jessica Walter), an alcohol-fueled manipulator, eldest son George Oscar “Gob” Bluth Jr. (Will Arnett), an incompetent magician, youngest brother Buster (Tony Hale), an inept scholar, Michael’s twin sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), a spoiled princess, her husband Tobias Fünke (David Cross), a disbarred psychiatrist and aspiring actor, their daughter Maeby (Alia Shawkat), a teenaged con artist, and Michael’s son George Michael (Michael Cera), a straight-laced student. The unofficial final member of the cast is the never seen Narrator, voiced by the series’ executive producer Ron Howard in an uncredited role, who seems to become more jaded and snarky as the series progresses.
Seriously, I can’t describe how great the show is. From the beginning the cast gels like almost no other I’ve ever seen, and any combination of characters is comedy gold. Over it’s three seasons it became a critical smash and gained a cultish fanbase. The series is littered with running gags, call-backs, call forwards, recurring characters and some of the most brilliant use of guest stars ever on television. Meta humor is another one of it’s trademarks, from casting (Justine Bateman as a prostitute who nearly sleeps with Michael), to dialogue. (“They were not making fun of Andy Griffith. This cannot be stressed enough.”) While it’s been announced that the new Netflix material will supposedly be comprised of nine episodes, one apiece for each family member and bridging the gap between the series finale and the film, the plot of the movie itself is still unknown. But there’s one rumor I’ve latched onto that I feverishly hope will prove true.
One of the last things seen on the show, and another example of it’s style of meta humor, was studio executive Maeby (that makes sense in context) pitching the Bluth’s story to her boss Ron Howard as a series. He disagrees, not seeing it as a series but “Maybe a movie.” And there it is. Just imagine how great it would be for the main plot of the movie to actually be the filming of an in-universe movie about the Bluths. This plays perfectly into the series strengths and allows tons of fun cameos, especially the casting of whom I’ll hereafter refer to as the Movie Bluths. (This part is purely subjective and consists of who I would personally cast if given the opportunity.) Ideally, Movie Michael would be played by Michael J. Fox, but real life would probably prevent that, so how about another child-actor turned leading man, and Bateman’s former Silver Spoons co-star, Rick Shroder? Movie George Michael would have to be Jesse Eisenberg. (When I first saw Zombieland and was unaware of his name, I referred to Eisenberg as “Not Michael Cera,” certain he got the part that seemed to be written for Cera.) Ron Perlman, patriarch on Sons of Anarchy and Tambor’s costar in the Hellboy films, would make an excellent Movie George, though I wouldn’t be averse to seeing another beleaguered TV father, Married… with Children‘s Al Bundy himself, Ed O’Neill, in the role. Christine Baranski would hold Movie Lucille’s martini glass effortlessly, and professional man-child Zach Galifianakis would fit nicely as Movie Buster. One of the current Disney tween stars, one with a sense of humor, could play Movie Maeby, much to the real Maeby’s disgust. For Movie Lindsay, I suggest de Rossi’s fellow Aussie Naomi Watts, after (in universe) Nicole Kidman turned the role down. Speaking of turning down roles, another gag would be that nobody wants to play Movie Tobias, leading to the aspiring actor to fill his jean shorts himself. For the movie’s narrator, I’d have either Howard’s fellow young sitcom star-turned-director Rob Reiner or child actor-turned-director Jodie Foster. What’s that? You’re mad I seem to have forgotten about Gob? Well, so is Gob, when he finds out the writer has written him out of the film completely, finding him unappealing and having given all his lines and beats to Movie Buster. This results in the side narrative (one of several, obviously) of Gob trying everything he can to have “himself” put back in the film. He’s vindicated when it’s agreed, but that quickly reverts to anger when they cast the openly gay Neil Patrick Harris (a magician, wink-wink) as Movie Gob, with Gob now paranoid about his masculinity. Although Harris would leave after a misunderstanding, with Tobias of course, the role of Movie Gob would then be filled by Gob’s nemesis Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller). Finally, I think it would be hysterical for the film to have a flashback where we finally see Michael’s wife and George Michael’s mother, the deceased Tracey, in an extremely short cameo with a huge star, along the lines of Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock, giving them nearly no lines and nothing to do.
Check back in the future, as when it gets close to the time of the movie’s release I’ve be tackling a TL;DR on the series as a whole. Until then, I’ll see you around the O.C. (“Don’t call it that.”)
Special shout-out to Eliza Biondi for the hours we’ve spent watching and discussing not only Arrested Development as a series but the plot and casting of the film itself.