Do You Remember Jason Bateman in IT'S YOUR MOVE? - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Do You Remember Jason Bateman in IT'S YOUR MOVE?

Richard takes a look back at the Jason Bateman 1984 sitcom, It's Your Move. A Show that no one else here at Warped Factor central remembers, but he assures us was very good...

When Arrested Development started I kept telling my friends to watch it, "It's got Jason Bateman in, remember back when he was the kid in It's Your Move" I'd say. Nearly everybody looked at me blankly. It was then I realised I was the only person I knew who watched this brilliant show.

Long before he was Michael Bluth in Arrested Development, Jason Bateman was the star of a short lived US sitcom that instantly became my favourite show on television. One evening in 1985 I quite accidentally stumbled across the first episode of It's Your Move. It was on BBC1, I think it was on Mondays at around 7.30pm. I was hooked straight away.

Jason Bateman played Matthew Burton, a kid in his early teens who lived with his widowed Mom and older sister Julie. OK, that's a pretty standard sitcom set-up there, but what set It's Your Move apart from other shows of the time was the character of Matt Burton. Jason Bateman had (and still has) such fantastic comic timing, he literally stole every scene he was in. He was totally different to any other sitcom kid I'd seen, he wasn't just cute or wisecracking or even a smart-ass. No, Matt was smart, genuinely funny and had a characteristic I'd never seen in a kid on a show before, he was brilliantly manipulative.

Matthew Burton was such an amazing comic character, constantly outsmarting the adults on the show, but not in a 'precocious brat' way. He could be quite nasty (and if anyone else but Jason Bateman was portraying the character it probably wouldn't have worked so well), but it didn't matter to me because he was simply the smartest television teenager I'd ever seen. I wanted to be Matt, I was about the same age, I lived with one parent, it felt like this show had been made just for me!

Across the hall lived Norman Lamb, a music journalist who started dating Matthew's Mom, something Matt was not happy about and so he would spend each episode coming up with schemes to make Norman look stupid. It was this constant fight between the two that kept me glued to the screen, what would Matt come up with next?

Some clips exist on YouTube, take a look at this one below and you'll see just how manipulative Matt could be. In the scene Matthew's Mom has written Norman a love letter, which included instructions for a late night meeting in the park. Clearly Matt's not pleased about that so when Norman accuses him of writing the letter, Matt denies it but in such a way that it convinces Norman into believing that he did write that letter. If you get my drift? Jason Bateman is amazing, especially at around 5.10 when his Mom comes home!

The show also had some running jokes and would reference earlier episodes, that's quite common today but in the 80s most other sitcoms would press the reset button at the end of every show. At one time Matt made up a fake group for Norman to interview, in the hope that when it was revealed that they were fake Norman's journalistic career would come to an end. The plan backfires a bit and the group end up becoming extremely popular and start to get bookings! Matt eventually kills them off but in a later episode they received a posthumous induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

Only 18 episodes were ever made of It's Your Move. In many ways it was well ahead of it's time, nowadays we're used to having a central character who is actually quite a nasty piece of work yet we still like them and want to be them, but audiences in the mid 80s just weren't ready for that.

The main thing I take from It's Your Move is that it introduced me to Jason Bateman, who I continued to look out for in anything solely because I was so impressed with him on this show. In the late 80s, after the lunchtime outing of Neighbours finished I'd stay tuned for The Hogan Family, I even purchased a copy of Teen Wolf Too on VHS!

It would be close to 20 years until Jason Bateman finally got the credit he deserved, but without stumbling across It's Your Move that night I probably wouldn't have tuned into the first episode of Arrested Development when it was broadcast. I would've been late to that party and that would've been a shame.

Do you remember It's Your Move? or am I really alone?

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