The Bluth family of Orange County, CA, once again forces the media critics to come up with new variations on the word "dysfunction" as the cult-favorite sitcom Arrested Development launches its second season. For those who came in late, straight-arrow Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) is still trying to keep his family and the family business from disintegrating after his entrepreneur father is thrown in jail on a fraud charge. Well, anyway, he was in jail until he broke out with the help of lookalike convict Oscar (also Jeffrey Tambor) at the end of season one. Now that George Sr. is on the run, the authorities target poor Michael for prosecution in their efforts to bring Bluth Inc. to justice -- and thus Michael's older brother, Gob, an habitually unemployed (and woefully) inept magician, becomes head of the family, managing to convince the company's board of directors that he actually has some business sense! In other developments, Michael's kid brother, Buster (Tony Hale), takes a break from his indolence by romancing Lupe (B.W. Gonzalez), a girl he'd met at a charity drive, and by joining the U.S. Army -- conveniently losing a hand in a freak accident just before he is to be sent to Iraq.
Meanwhile, bumbling detective Gene Parmesan (Martin Mull) gets lost somewhere south of the border while searching for the elusive George Sr.; Oscar, the man who'd traded places with George Sr. to effect his escape, may also end up replacing George Sr. in bed with his the elder Bluth's wife, Lucille (Jessica Walter); and Michael's 14-year-old son, George Michael, takes a surrealistic journey into "Charlie Brown" territory when he's dumped by his girlfriend. Plus, Michael's doctor-cum-actor brother-in-law Tobias (David Cross) edges further out of the closet when he adopts the drag alter ego of "Mr. Featherbottom." Also, this is the season when we meet George Sr.'s hated business rival Stan Sitwell (Ed Begley Jr.), whose daughter Sally (Christine Taylor) was once (and may still be) Michael's childhood sweetheart. Other guest performers include Martin Short as the paraplegic, monumentally annoying Uncle Jack Dorso, an old family friend who offers to help the Bluths regain their stock majority in their own company -- at a price; and blind lawyer/congenital liar Maggie Lizer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who shows up pregnant, leading Michael to believe that he's going to be a father again; and Ben Stiller as Gob's magician mentor Tony Wonder, whose most famous illusion was being baked in a loaf of bread -- and who, like everyone else on the show, has an ulterior motive for lending the Bluths a helping hand. The last episode of the season finds George Sr. still on the lam; Tobias linking up with his father-in-law's blackmailing, self-deprecating former secretary Kitty (Patricia Velasquez); and George Michael entering into a relationship with the devoutly Christian Ann Veal (Mae Whitman), despite her total revulsion for his family and everything they stand for. As in season one, Arrested Development earned several Emmy nominations for its second season, winning the prize for Outstanding Writing. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi