Now that we’ve gorged ourselves on new “Arrested Development” episodes we have to find some way to re-focus all that time and energy we spent anticipating the show’s return. Back when the show premiered was struggling for life in 2003, the Bluths (and Funkes) became the signature roles for most of the actors. For some, it was another feather in the cap. For some, it became the cap. As you’re prepping your vodka rocks and toast this morning, and want to fill out your queues with more good stuff from the Bluth clan, here are our picks for cast’s best roles B.C. “AD” and A.D. “AD.”
Will Arnett – A good magician never reveals his tricks. But Gob isn’t and he does. The show’s stint in the graveyard could keep him from turning tricks as Devon Banks on “30 Rock.” Prior to Gob, Arnett specialized (as still does) in voiceover work. His most notable credits are on “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City.” So let’s go with “Series 7,” a vicious parody of reality TV.
Jason Bateman – Duh, “Teen Wolf Too.” If nothing else, it’s buckets of fun to mock and less of a time commitment than 110 episodes of “Valerie.” During “Arrested”’s hiatus, Bateman has been all over the comedy landscape in roles small and large. But for his best work, well, that’s “Juno.” Even though the movie has become a punching bag for so many, one thing you can’t bash it for is the performances. Bateman’s father-to-be is a pretty difficult role, and helps anchor the film emotionally amidst all the smarmy comedy and exaggerated slang.
Michael Cera – Early pickings from baby Bluth are a little dicey. The “Michael Cera” persona hadn’t been established, so he was relegated to the more generic “Male Lead’s Son.” So we’ll just choose the best movie of the batch, which is the under-rated, but thoroughly good, “Frequency.” Once the show ended Cera became an easy target for mostly playing the same guy. But you can’t fault the guy too much. He hits the same notes over and over again and they’re mostly effective. Out of the mighty triumvirate of “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” “Superbad,” and “Scott Pilgrim vs The World,” we’ll go with “Nick & Norah” because Cera’s a more charming romantic lead when he’s not pining after his cousin.
David Cross – Cross is one of the two cast members to already have one classic TV comedy to their credit before “Arrested Development,” so picking anything other than “Mr. Show” would be an oversight as egregious as cancelling “AD” was in the first place. When his day’s blueing himself were done, Cross turned in another classic in the epic and groundbreaking “Alvin and the Chimpmunks” trilogy. That he was able to squeeze in a strong turn as Allen Ginsberg in “I’m Not There.” is a bonus for us.
Tony Hale – Before a loose seal claimed his hand and Lucille Two claimed his carnal carnation, Hale held things down as a working actor, bouncing from one guest role to the next. He was in an episode of “Dawson’s Creek,” hopefully he got to kiss Michelle Williams or high-five Joshua Jackson. Once Buster grew up, the pick for Hale is clearly Gary Walsh on “Veep.” But the more under the radar pick is another short-lived show, “Andy Parker, P.I.”
Portia de Rossi – Fellow BroJackson writer Josh Klein put it best and most succinctly: “Pre- ‘Ally McBeal’ Post- Ellen deGeneres’ lover. I’m drunk.” Another solid, but not as long-lasting role as neurotic boss Veronica Palmer in “Better Off Ted” makes for a respectable runner-up.
Alia Shawkat – Shawkat runs into the same problem as Michael Cera, playing run of the mill kids before making her mark as Maeby. Like Cera, we’ll just pick the best thing she was in, which in this case is David O. Russell’s “Three Kings.” As a studio exec Maeby hit it big peddling drivel to audiences. As an actress Shawkat continues to stand out in supporting roles. It’s a toss-up between “The Runaways” and “Whip It.” Let’s go with the roller derby fun of “Whip It” for now.
Jeffrey Tambor – The easiest and most obvious choice of this exercise is Tambor’s work as Hank on “The Larry Sanders Show.” There’s nothing to be said about it that hasn’t been said before. Later Tambor output is trickier to maneuver. Typecast as crabby patriarchs in everything from “The Hangover” to “The Hangover Part III,” it looked like he had a ball playing a fictional version of himself on “Entourage.” For more discerning audiences, the choice is “Win Win.”
Jessica Walter – Walter easily has the most impressive resume, with 145 credits to her name. The sheer volume is incredible. So of course it’s only fitting that we go with the truly bizarre “Dinosaurs” from the 90s. People that missed Lucille’s scathing condescension and general disdain for people found an extension of the character in Walter’s work on “Archer” as the titular characters mother. She’s everything Lucille is and more, only animated and R-rated.