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Way Back When: Jason Bateman

Jason Bateman
Charles Leonio, Getty Images

You know and love him as Michael Bluth on the (soon to be returning!) TV series ‘Arrested Development,’ and he makes us laugh in movies like ‘Horrible Bosses,’ but Jason Bateman has been around for a really long time. Iin today’s Way Back When, we investigate his early work.

‘Little House on the Prairie’

Jason Bateman’s first role was James Cooper Ingalls on the classic series ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ Bateman starred in 21 episodes of the 19th century pioneer family drama from 1981 to 1982. Judging by this clip below, life on the Prairie must have really sucked. Bateman’s character is accused of stealing money, he denies it, but then a dollar magically shows up in his pocket, so he gets a good ol’ fashioned spankin’:

‘Silver Spoons’

This may be Jason Bateman at his most adorable, playing Ricky’s best friend Derek Taylor on ‘Silver Spoons.’ Bateman played in 21 episodes of the series from 1982 to 1984, and you can see some of his familiar mannerisms even as a kid. Below are clips from the episode titled “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” in which Ricky is forced to pose as Derek’s date to a party after Derek saves his life. Too cute!

‘It’s Your Move’

From 1984 to 1985, Bateman starred in this short-lived TV sitcom called ‘It’s Your Move,’ alongside David Garrison of ‘Married… With Children.’ The show follows Matthew Burton (Bateman), a teenage scam artist who lives with his widowed mother and his older sister in a nice apartment. But when an author named Norman moves in next door and starts dating his mom, Matthew tries to pull his signature tricks to get the guy out of the picture, until he discovers that Norman is just as manipulative as he is. You can view the first part of the pilot below:

‘Teen Wolf Too’

Bateman starred in this 1987 sequel to ‘Teen Wolf,’ creatively titled ‘Teen Wolf Too,’ in which he plays Todd Howard, a teen who has some pretty bad luck until he starts turning into a wolf. It’s a retread of the first film, swapping out Michael J. Fox’s character with Bateman’s, but it’s still pretty fun to watch. You can see Bateman transform into a wolf during a dance with a pretty lady below:

‘Breaking the Rules’

In this 1992 film, Bateman stars with C. Thomas Howell and Jonathan Silverman as a trio of friends who leave school and hit the road when one of them shares a life-threatening secret. They’re soon joined by a waitress (Annie Potts), who changes everything. This was a bad year for Jason Bateman’s hair:

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