Saturday, November 28, 2009


With the spare time I've had of late on my own, I've been, as previously noted, spending far too much time in front of the TV. Fortunately, I've been in good company, as I've been rewatching the three seasons of Arrested Development, and finding it even richer, funnier, and more subversive on a second go 'round.

I've become, more than anything else, an enormous fan of Jessica Walter, whose brilliant portrayal of monster mother Lucille Bluth is the heart (a cold, controlling heart, but still) of the show's dysfunctional family circus. She plays Lucille as a carnival of couture, cocktails, and collagen; despite being about the dressiest part imaginable, it's one that requires a total lack of vanity, and Walter comes through.

I always enjoy seeing a longtime trouper get a break. Walter's career, which stretches back to the early sixties, has been mostly a matter of guest shots, disposable-girlfriend roles, and movies of the week: a working actress, but not a particularly prominent or even interesting one. It's as if the chance to play Lucille unleashed something in her, a lifetime's worth of observation of California dragon ladies and West Coast pretension that all came together at once.

She'd bloomed like this only once before, really, as the sweet-faced psychokiller in 1971's Play Misty for Me (she's seen here menacing co-star and fellow B-list survivor Donna Mills). It got her a Golden Globe nomination, but not all that much more.

Frankly, I think the shag 'do is more than enough motivation for serial-killing; thank goodness Arrested Development brought her a role with better taste in coiffures...


  1. though there's so much to love about "AD", i always yearned for more time with lucille. it's a brilliant role, brilliantly played. can't wait for the big screen feature.

  2. She's been married to actor Ron Leibman for over twenty years. They appeared together on Broadway in Neil Simon's (very uncharacteristic) "Rumors." Leibman won a Tony for his portrayal of Roy Cohn in the original Broadway production of "Angels in America."

  3. Fact: I have laughed so hard at AD, I actually peed in my pants a little bit. I think it was when Gob had his stripper friends pose as cops to scare George Michael straight.

    Another Fact: Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor are both veterans of failed Three's Company spin-offs. Tambor played Jeffrey P. Brookes III on The Ropers, Stanley and Helen's snobby new neighbor. Walter played Vicki's mother on Three's A Crowd.