Perhaps not since Tom Hanks shook off the stink of Bosom Buddies has a more-or-less dismissed actor been poised to make as stunning a comeback as Jason Bateman. This fall, Justine's kid brother returns in Fox's Arrested Development (premiering Nov. 2 at 9:30 pm/ET), which he describes as "The Royal Tenenbaums shot like Cops." Even more promising, the quirky docu-style family comedy comes to the tube from highfalutin movie producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

"I've always been very aware of my 'baggage,' per se," admits the child star of The Hogan Family. "But you know, you do the jobs that you're given to do." Indeed, that explains his regular roles on such failed sitcoms as George and Leo and the abominable small-screen Kiss Me, Guido adaptation Some of My Best Friends. "There are very few people that can be real picky and choosy.

"I hope to one day be in that position," he adds with the hard-won optimism of a Tinseltown survivor. "But you do your best with what you've got."

Lucky for Bateman, in Arrested Development he has a pretty decent showcase. (After his last sitcom, It's Not About Me, sat on a shelf for a year before finally being trashed without a single broadcast, he certainly knows the difference.) "It's real easy to be good in this show, because it's just real," he theorizes. "Sitcoms [by and large] are performance-based; this is much more acting-based. So you don't have to, y'know, be a circus monkey and spin things and solicit laughter all the time."