Narrator: Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It's 'Arrested Development.'
And with that, the world was introduced to "Arrested Development," a network comedy that flopped in the ratings, enamored critics, was canceled by Fox in 2006 after three seasons, and became a cult classic that has been passed between friends with as much hopeful expectation as a dog-eared copy of Proust's "In Search of Lost Time."
A possible feature film version of the show set in and around Newport Beach has been a shimmering El Dorado in fans' minds for years; however, sporadic Tweets hinting at it began to fall upon increasingly jaded eyes.
But that hope was rekindled this week, with the announcement that the show's cast and crew will join together once again to produce about nine new episodes — one for each major cast member, filling viewers in on their activities since 2006 — to be followed by a long-delayed feature film.
"Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz announced the new material during a cast reunion last week at the annual "New Yorker" magazine festival. Tellingly, the reunion was the hottest ticket in town.
The original show concept was simple: a completely deadpan mockumentary show about a wealthy, dysfunctional Newport Beach family whose land development business goes up in flames.
Michael: They're going to keep Dad in jail until this whole thing gets sorted out.
[silence among the family]
Michael: Also, I've been told that the company's expense accounts have been frozen...
Michael: ...Interesting. I would have expected that after, "They're keeping Dad in jail."
Stars like Jason Bateman, Michael Cera and Portia de Rossi were brought in, along with guest stars like Liza Minnelli, and were instructed that amenities would be limited and egos would be forbidden.
"There was a cover letter that came with the script that said … pretty much, no diva-type behavior; we're gonna not really have fancy trailers," de Rossi recalled at the reunion. "I remember reading that and thinking, 'What am I getting myself into?'"
Networks and other interested parties, from Netflix and Hulu to Showtime and IFC, are all vying for the rights to the new miniseries; the original show is one of the most popular selections in the streaming providers' libraries. Fox reportedly isn't interested in bringing the show back, despite resurrecting the adult animated series "Futurama" after a similar five-year gap.
In celebration of the news, we share some of our favorite "A.D." moments — particularly those specific to the Newport Beach area.
Fans have spent years rewatching the series, indoctrinating new viewers with episodes about Cornballers, never-nudes, Segways, Mrs. Featherbottom, Annyong and a very famous frozen banana stand.
This stand is bananas
Michael: I burned it. Down to the ground.
George Sr.: There was money in that banana stand.
Michael: Well, it's all gone now.
George Sr.: There was $250,000 lining the inside walls of the banana stand.
[George Sr. strangles Michael]
George Sr.: [yells] There is money ... in ... the banana stand.
Prison guard: No touching.
George Sr.: [takes hands away] No touching.
Prison guard: No touching.
The show's concept for a family banana stand, run by its youngest members, was based in part on its real Balboa predecessor and in part on Hurwitz's own family business as a teenager, which he ran with his brother Michael.
Starting in 1976, the duo — who were too young to get "real" jobs — sold homemade chocolate chip cookies out of an abandoned taco stand in the Fun Zone, which they christened the Chipyard. (To this day, a Chipyard spinoff still operates in Boston; it was founded by the boys' father.)
Behind the Orange curtain
Locals reveled in the show's fast and furious inside jokes; although the show was shot in the South Bay, Balboa's famous frozen bananas became a familiar sight to viewers worldwide, and eerily familiar mini-mansion model homes gradually fell apart due to shoddy workmanship.
The Newport Beach area (and its stereotypical self-indulgences and unawareness of the world outside) was lampooned frequently on the show.
Tobias Fünke: Good news, everyone. I bought the Queen Mary.
GOB: Really? I was just thinking of getting a yacht.
Tobias Fünke: … Can you believe it? The only reason he's selling it is because, supposedly, it's in a bad neighborhood.
Executive producer Ron Howard narrated the show himself, also in a deadpan voice, issuing forth such zingers as:
Narrator: Buster had attempted to flee to Mexico, but instead, he wound up in Santa Ana, California, a town six miles inland from his own. The two cities were so close that they shared a newspaper. Unfortunately, due to the car fumes and high temperatures, Buster could not tell the difference.
Narrator: Each year, Oscar attempts the 400-mile walk from Newport Beach to Berkeley, Calif. In the 12 years that he's attempted this, he's never made it farther thanUC Irvine.
Pundits from the "Guardian" to the "New York Times" have agreed that today's "modern families" on television owe much to their matriarch, "Arrested Development."
And we all have taken a collective cue from the cast at their reunion, who closed their event by doing the Chicken Dance (well worth a gander on YouTube).
Steve Holt!Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun