by Nancy McDonald
Frozen bananas. Never nude. The Magicians’ Alliance. Pop pop in the attic. I’ve made a huge mistake. Her? Arrested Development was so much more than just a story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. The Bluth family included George (Jeffrey Tambor), Lucille (Jessica Walter), Gob (Will Arnett), Michael (Jason Bateman), Lindsay (Portia di Rossi), Buster (Tony Hale), Lindsay’s husband Tobias Funke (David Cross), George Michael (Michael Cera) and Maeby (Alia Shawkat). With a cast like that, how could a sitcom fail? When it first aired on Fox in 2003, it was applauded by almost every critic as a refreshing take on the stereotypical sitcom. Everything about this show was perfect from the writing to the directing and acting. Unfortunately, nobody was watching. It didn’t matter how many Emmys, Golden Globes, or Screen Actors Guild awards and nominations the show received. Nor did it matter that they managed to get some amazing guest stars like Zach Braff, Charlize Theron, Ben Stiller, Liza Minnelli, and many, many others. They even had the show’s executive producer, legendary actor/director Ron Howard, brilliantly narrate each episode. None of this could make viewers tune in. After three seasons, they were cancelled. Since then, Arrested Development has garnered a cult following thanks to the seasons being released on dvd. It’s so popular, in fact, talks of a movie have been circulating since the last episode aired. Until then, check out my top five episodes of Arrested Development.
1. “Ready, Aim, Marry Me!” – Season 2, Episode 10
The brilliant comedian Martin Short (Father of the Bride, Primetime with Jiminy Glick) guest stars as “Uncle Jack” in this episode. Desperate for some extra cash, Michael invites Uncle Jack over under the guise of just wanting to catch up. Uncle Jack, who used to be in top physical shape, is now withered and unable to walk. He’s hired a man to carry him around because he refuses to use a wheelchair. Uncle Jack is smitten by Lindsay and a plan is formed to use Lindsay as bait for a loan from Uncle Jack. Martin Short is hilarious as an old man who once had it all, but refuses to accept his deteriorating body.
Michael: “Think that makes the joke on Gob.”
2. “Good Grief” – Season 2, Episode 4
Upon hearing that George, Sr. has died in Mexico, the family holds a funeral for him. On the same day, George Michael is dumped by his girlfriend Bland, I mean, Ann. He’s completely crushed by the break-up and by the loss of his grandfather, until he goes for a walk near their home and finds George, Sr. hiding in the desert like Saddam Hussein had done. I’m not quite sure which part of this episode is the best. Gob’s failed magic trick at this father’s funeral? Buster showing up to the funeral in a stripper’s Army outfit? All of the references to Charlie Brown, hence the title of the episode? “Good Grief” is a perfect example of how dysfunctional, and hilarious, the Bluth family could be.
George Michael: “Oh my God, that’s Ann!”
George, Sr.: “Who?”
George Michael: “That’s the girl who ripped my heart out. The girl whose face will always be etched in my mind.”
George, Sr.: “Her?”
George Michael: “…She’s really funny.”
George, Sr. “Well, let’s hope so.”
3. “The Righteous Brothers” – Season 2, Episode 18
The best reason to watch this episode is for the appearance of Gob’s puppet, Franklin. Together they record an album, “Franklin Comes Alive!”, featuring the original song, “It Ain’t Easy Being White”, and a cover of “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.” It’s not the only reason to watch this episode, but it’s certainly the funniest.
Gob: “Why don’t you get Gob to do your dirty work for you? Shall I knock Dad out and chain him to a pipe somewhere, or should I risk another herpes outbreak with Kitty? Which is it this time, Michael?”
Michael: “Well, definitely neither of those two things.”
By this time, everybody who worked on Arrested Development knew that they were on a sinking ship and they admit it openly in this episode. Ron Howard even narrates at one point, “Tell your friends about this show.” The writers decided to poke fun at some of the techniques other failing shows have used when their viewership was waning. They used almost every trick in the book; at the beginning we’re told that somebody will die by the end of the episode, there’s a “live” ending, 3-D effects, and loads of cameos. Zach Braff, Andy Richter, Andy Dick, John Larroquette and Ben Stiller all appear in this one. Although very funny, it was not enough to make people watch.
Lindsay: “Check it out! I found that canned ham that we had forever and I put it in a pot of boiling water and guess what I’m calling it!”
Lindsay: “Hot ham water!”
5. “Bringing Up Buster” – Season 1, Episode 3
Buster, who’s a little slower and weaker than his siblings, is forced out of his mother’s apartment to go live with his siblings at the model home where they all live. This is one of the few episodes where all four Bluth siblings unite together in a scene in which they begin to make disparaging remarks towards their mother (who isn’t there, of course). Buster tops them all with a profanity-laced tirade that is filled with more bleeps than actual words. Also, there are two important introductions in this episode: the cornballer and Steve Holt!
Buster: Mom dropped me off to spend time with Michael.
Gob: Spend time with Michael or to serve her own menopausal needs?
Michael: She’s always got to wedge herself in the middle of us so that she can control everything.
Buster: (laughs) Yeah. Mom’s awesome.