Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Welcome Back, Jason
When "Arrested Development" got people talking about Jason Bateman again, I couldn't help but think, "Where have you people been?" I tried explaining his underrated awesomeness to my sister, an "AD" fan who is too young to know he had a TV career in the '80s. Bateman was usually better than the shows he starred in, and for a while, he seemed thisclose to having a huge career. But maybe he was a bit ahead of his time, like "Square Pegs."
My husband gets Best Life magazine (Bateman's on the cover this month), and Joel Stein's profile perfectly describes the actor's long apparent, off-center charm: "I liked Bateman more than any other child star. Because Bateman always played a dick. Not a teen-villain dick, but the kind who you wanted to be: the smart, cocky, friendly dick. Kirk Cameron and Ricky Schroder could do snarky, and Scott Baio could do arrogant, but underneath was a desperation to be liked, to wink at the joke, to make sure viewers knew they really were good people. But Bateman never paused for laughter."
Sad as this is, I was especially psyched that Stein cited "It's Your Move," a short-lived '80s sitcom in which Bateman played a scheming smartass. (I watched a lot of TV growing up. OK?) The character oozed smarm, but Bateman made him funny and somehow likeable.That's good acting. Every other sitcom has a version of that kid now, but back in the day it was kinda edgy.
This is the kind of comeback I can get behind. It's not as flashy as Ricky Schroeder's on "NYPD Blue" or as out-of-the-blue as Jackie Earl Haley's in "Little Children," but it's just as satisfying.