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Arrested Development

The reigning Emmy comedy champ debuts its second season with an episode that may well be its funniest. The Bluth family mayhem continues unabated into a black hole of misunderstood intentions, complete with one fabulous double-entendre line involving self-loathing, the Blue Man Group and depression. TV bar's for comedy has been raised again.

With:
Michael Bluth - Jason Bateman Lindsay - Portia de Rossi Gob - Will Arnett George Michael - Michael Cera Maeby - Alia Shawkat Buster - Tony Hale Tobias - David Cross George - Jeffrey Tambor Lucille - Jessica Walter

The reigning Emmy comedy champ debuts its second season with an episode that may well be its funniest. The Bluth family mayhem continues unabated into a black hole of misunderstood intentions, complete with one fabulous double-entendre line involving self-loathing, the Blue Man Group and depression. TV bar’s for comedy has been raised again.

Central character Michael (Jason Bateman), who has taken over the Bluth family empire while dad George (Jeffrey Tambor) is in jail, is attempting to abandon the family by heading to Phoenix with son George Michael (Michael Cera). Their escape plan is stymied after they learn George has escaped — using the airplane-boarding stairs that played a key part in the first season.

Secretly craving his family’s acknowledgement of his ability to bring cohesion to the Bluths, Michael tries to put on a brave face as he is seemingly hardly missed. In his absence, brother-in-law Tobias (David Cross) has offered to try an “open marriage” with wife Lindsay (Portia de Rossi); within minutes of their agreement, she believes she has a date.

There are as many subplots as a soap opera: Gob (Will Arnett) takes over the business, family members uncover George’s ties to Saddam Hussein and hints are dropped that George’s twin brother, Oscar (Tambor), may be more closely related to the kids than anyone knows.

Cross and de Rossi continue to brilliantly limn one of comedy’s more bizarre relationships. The two have come to personify desperation, while Jessica Walter, as matriarch Lucille, manifests denial.

Ron Howard’s voiceover narration hits a splendid blend of deadpan and chipper.

Lee Shallat Chemel’s direction is sharply in alignment with the zippy writing of Mitchell Hurwitz and Richard Rosenstock.

As if opening seg isn’t funny enough, coming attraction with Henry Winkler as the family attorney ends the show on a bonus high note.

Arrested Development

Series; Fox, Sun. Nov. 7; 8:30 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Imagine Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Executive producers, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, David Nevins, Mitchell Hurwitz; co-executive producer, Richard Rosenstock, Jim Vallely; producers, Brad Copeland, John Amodeo; director, Lee Shallat Chemel; writers, Hurwitz, Rosenstock.

Crew: Camera, Greg Harrington; editor, Robert Bramwell; music, David Schwartz; production design, Dawn Snyder; casting, Deborah Barylski, Allison Jones. 30 MIN.

With: Michael Bluth - Jason Bateman Lindsay - Portia de Rossi Gob - Will Arnett George Michael - Michael Cera Maeby - Alia Shawkat Buster - Tony Hale Tobias - David Cross George - Jeffrey Tambor Lucille - Jessica Walter

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