As Arrested Development leaps into its first season, hard-working Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) is on the brink of starting a new life in Arizona with son George Michael (Michael Cera) when he is dragged kicking and screaming back to California, there to take charge of his family's business when his light-fingered father, George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), is jailed for fraud and the company's assets frozen. Though he had fondly assumed he'd seen the last of his vituperrious mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), and his lazy, self-indulgent siblings, he was forced to hunker down and teach them how to behave (and spend!) more responsibly. As Michael's airheaded would-be-activist twin sister, Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), her sexually confused ex-doctor hubby, Tobias (David Cross), and their out-of-control daughter, Maeby (Alia Shawkat), move in with Michael, older brother Gob (Will Arnett), a spectacularly unsuccessful and untalented magician, must face the prospect of actually getting a real job, while the "baby" of the family, Michael's feckless kid brother, Buster (Tony Hale), remains sequestered in his mommy's Balboa Bay condo. Michael's well-ordered world doesn't take very long to unravel; by the second episode, his darling son George Michael has set fire to the Bluths' frozen-banana stand in Newport Beach, and has developed a borderline-incestuous crush on cousin Maeby. A few weeks later, Lucille Bluth's neurotic social rival Lucille Austero (Liza Minnelli) has entered into an affair with the much, much, much younger Buster, an act that will eventually move Buster's mom to spitefully adopt a Korean orphan named Annyong (Justin Lee). Meanwhile, Michael finds it next to impossible to break up the doomed romance between brother Gob and his girlfriend, Marta (Patricia Velasquez), and to fire such millstones around the Bluths' necks as hopelessly inept family lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler) and blackmailing company secretary Kitty Sanchez (Judy Greer).
Among the supporting actors entering into the lunacy are Rocky co-star Carl Weathers, who makes the first of several self-deprecating appearances as himself in the episode wherein George Michael is forced to hire a public relations service to gain entrance to a private school; Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton as the warden in the prison where George Sr. is wasting away, so to speak; Seinfeld veteran Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the sight-challenged attorney Maggie Lizer, who plays up to Michael while trying to dig up more damaging dirt on his family's business practices; and series regular David Cross' longtime Mr. Show cohort Bob Odenkirk as a marriage counselor who tries to patch up the differences between Lindsay and Tobias (chief among them the fact that the "never-nude" Tobias will not undress in front of his spouse); and Amy Poehler, real-life wife of regular Will Arnett, as the "where the hell did she come from?" new wife of the gormless Gob. The season finale finds George Sr. staging a heart attack for the purpose of busting out jail, Maeby finally tumbling to George Michael's unspoken love for her, an unintentionally gay-themed book written years ago by Tobias embarrassingly hitting the best-seller charts, and the rivalry between Buster and Annyong coming to a head -- and threatening to bust both of their heads. Although season one of Arrested Development posted lukewarm ratings, the series earned a renewal from the Fox network largely on the strength of its five surprise Emmy Award wins (Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing, and Outstanding Writing). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, (more)