iWINuFAIL's Best of Television: Arrested Development

Welcome back folks.  This is my third "best of TV" blog, and decided to take things in a funnier direction this time.  Arrested Development aired in the early 2000s and was, for a time, the funniest show on Television.  Unfortunately, poor ratings forced Fox to dump the phenominal show, and after only three seasons, it was over.


We had some good times...WTF?

Since then however, it has gained newfound recognition both in DVD sales and Netflix views.  If you haven't yet, go now and start watching this show.  You will thank me.

Part of what made AD better than your typical television comedy was it's reliance of self-reference, political humor, and intelligent (often hard to catch) jokes.  Ultimately, what made the show so great turned out to be it's downfall, as viewers who missed an episode would quickly get lost in the continuous story arcs, and many people were left floundering when they couldn't keep up with the show's wittiness.


Unfortunately, this is the majority of America

Some would say this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the show ended before it could become mediocre, but I feel it had plenty of life left, at least enough for another spectacular season.  Whatever the case, for better or for worse, it's gone now, so without further adieu, here is my rankings of AD's seasons:

3.  Season 2

To call this the 'worst' season of Arested Development doesn't sound right, so I'm just going to call it the 'slightly less hysterical than the other two' season.  Though it had some of the show's funniest scenes, the fact is Season 2 was paced considrably slower than the first, and when it picked up, some of the umor was lost to exposition.  It's hardly less funny than the other seasons, it just doesn't do as good of a job at balacing clever plot with humor.

That said, Season 2 of AD is still considerably funnier than most other TV comedies.  Buster's encounter with a 'loose seal', George Michael's star wars video, and an ill-fated escape to Mexico were just some of the hilarious events this season.

Rating: 9
Best Episode: "Hand to God"

2.  Season 1

Ever show needs to start somewhere, and AD wasted no time in bolting out of the gates.  Unlike Season 2, Season 1 and 3 had no real flaws, it was just a matter of which one played the stronger hand, with 3 winning by a nose.  

From the moment George Sr. is arrested for embezzlement, leaving his family and business to flounder, not a single episode goes by that didn't, at least once, have me holding my sides with laughter.  In particular Michael's short-term girlfriend, a blind lawyer named Maggie (played by Seinfeld star Julia Dreyfus), was a real standout.


Still got it.

Overall, what made season one so special that it made us genuinely care about this family, no matter how stupid, evil, or disturbing they may be.  Whether it's George Sr.'s conversion to Judaism, or GOB sinking the family yacht, AD's first season brought us into the lives of TV's best family, and held tight for three years.

Rating: 9.6
Best Episode: "Justice is Blind"

1.  Season 3

THIS is how you make good television.  AD's shortest season at only 13 episodes, is without a doubt the funniest ever made.  The first six epsiodes focus on a phenominal story arc featuring Michael's British love interest, and as one could expect, things quickly go awry.


"FOR BRITISH EYES ONLY!"

Knowing they were in their final season from the start, the writers made frequent hints (often brilliantly obvious) for other stations to pick up the show.  The best was a conversation between Michael and his father, discussing the "House Building Organization" (HBO) and how they may be able to help them out.

The end of the season-and the series-deatures an extensive romp through Iraq, culminatting in a hilarious, if a little convenient, conclusion. The final episode was so absolutely perfect, it's hard to imagine the writers could do so much with only 22 minutes.  The return of a long-lost 'son' was a superb culmination of all the events leading up to the scene.


This pretty much sums up the final few episodes.

Rating: 9.8
Best Episode: "Making a Stand"/"Development Arrested"

 

Gone but not forgotten, it's time to rank characters!  I've broken it down into two categories, 'Bluths' and 'non-Bluths'.

Top 5 Non-Bluths

5.  Carl Weathers

Tobias' acting teacher, real-life actor Carl Weathers.  Playing himself, Weathers recreates himself image as a mooching, washed up old man trying to get by however he can.  He was only on the show for a short time, but made the most of it.

Best Quote:  "Hey don't throw out that bone.  Throw that in a pot of water with a potato-you got yourself a stew!"

4.  Barry Zuckercorn

The Bluth family lawyer is, without a doubt, one of the worst attourneys ever.  Near zero real knowledge of the law, combined with lack of common sense, and general disinterest in the case before him, Barry is the perfect match for the Bluth family.

Best Quote:  "Sorry I'm late, just came from another trial.  Sexual harrasment, but I'm not worried, I have a great lawyer."

3.  J. Walter Weatherman

Just when you think you know what's going on, someone gets their arm chopped off.  George Sr. has been using Weatherman for years to teach his family various lessons.  The one-armed man uses his disability to stage terrifying situation in order to scare the Bluths into following their father's rules.

Best Quote:  "And that's why, you NEVER teach your father a lesson".

2.  Maggie Lizer

Michael's first sexual partner since his wife's death happens to be a beautiful, blind lawyer acting as prosectuter against George Sr.  Their relationship, built around Maggie's constant lies and deceit, is one of the show's best recurring elements.

Best Quote:  "Being pregnant is just a state of mind."

1.  Rita Leeds

On the off chance that you are reading this but haven't watched the show, I won't spoilt what makes Rita so great.  I will say that her relationship with Michael is without a doubt the best storyline of the entire show.

Best Quote:  "Sometimes, I like to feel like they teach me."

 

Top 5 Bluth-Family Characters

5.  Micheal Bluth

The prodigal son and heir-apparent to the Bluth company, Micheal is forced to take care of the family while his father is in jail.  Micheal's big heart often gets the better of him, as he tries his best to do right by his family, even when there is clearly no hope for them, and he is only hurting himself.

Best Quote:  "What's better than hanging out with family?  Aww fuck it's mom..."

4.  Tobias Funke

Okay technically he's only a Bluth by marriage, and really he has no relationship whatsoever to them, but in our hearts he will always be associated with those lovable idiots.  Tobias' sexuality and non-nudity are some of the best recurring jokes in the entire series.

Best Quote:  "I suppose my phrasing could be better.  I can be such a blow hard."

3.  George Bluth Sr.

The morally bankrupt, coniving, emotionally incapable father of the Bluth family and company.  George Sr. is not above using his twin brother to replace himself in prison (which he does several times), or putting his family in legal danger by running away.  When it appears he may have finally gained a sliver of humanity, it always turns out to be part of a greater scheme.

Best Quote:  "How else do I have to say it Michael?  There's always money, IN THE BANANA STAND!"

2.  Buster Bluth

I'm conflicted on whether Buster is retarded, or simply the result of his mother coddling him for 30 years.  Buster is hilarious in the first season, and only gets better once he loses his hand in n accident.  The relationship between he and his mother is hysterical, and borderline disturbing.

Best Quote:  "Give me the map, I took advanced cartography!  Hmmm...okay so the if the blue is land, we wanna go near these waves that say 'Sacramento'.

1.  George Oscar Bluth Jr.

I don't know what to say about GOB.  He's everything his father is, if his father was also an idiot. A failed magician, terrible businessman, and sex addict, GOB gets himself into more trouble on a weekly basis than you or I could in a lifetime.  Whether it's training a seal to eat meat (with disastrous results), or dating a fifteen year old devout Christain girl, GOB is, without a doubt, the funniest character on the show.

Best Quote:  "I've made a huge mistake."

 

HONORARY MENTION

Narrator-Ron Howard

One of the greatest parts of this entire show is the narrator, played by executive producer Ron Howard.  In addition to being the mediator between characters and audience, Howard often gives each scene an extra layer of hilarity, with well-timed comments, or startling insights that none of the characters know about.

Best Quote:  "I don't see it as a show.  Maybe a movie!"

 

Usually here I do the "top 5 moments" of a show, but because AD is so full of recurring jokes, I thought I'd list my top 5 of those instead.  Enjoy!

5.  STEVE HOLT!

Steve Holt is a 20-year old senior at the local High School, and though he is rarely seen, always is sure to make his presence known.  Whenever something goes his way, he raises his arms in triumpgh, declaring his name loud and clear.  At times, other characters have done the same, either in mocking or support.

4.  Never-Nude

In addition to his budding homosexuality, Tobias is cursed by a severe affliction, known as 'never-nude'.  In short, he can NEVER be naked, even in the shower, so always wears short cutoffs.  If this wasn't funny enough, he frequently misinteprets other people's actions as being due to them having the same 'disease'.

3.  "I've Made a Huge Mistake"

Oh GOB, you lovable dimwit.  As if it wasn't funny enough how frequently he puts himself in tough situations, the writers used this opportunity to craft a very simple, yet wholly effective catchphrase.  Though it is often used by other characters on the show, often together with GOB, the line has become synonomous with the inherent tendency to failure of the eldest Bluth child.

2.  'The Final Countdown'

GOB may be an awful magician, but he's got one hell of an intro!

1.  Chicken Dance

This joke began with a taunt that GOB would often d to Michael while calling him a 'chicken'.  This was slowly expanded upon until every character had their own variation:

Seriously, have these people ever seen a chicken?

Semblance's picture

A.D. definitely wasted no time running out of the gate. In fact, one of the best moments in the series occurs in the starting moments of the pilot.

John Tarr's picture

There are dozens of us! DOZENS! (speaking of Arrested Development fans, of course)

Excellent writeup as always. I read every line, even though I've watched all 3 seasons at least a dozen times. You're a terrible enabler; I'm going to watch them all again.

I went to an Arrested Development trivia night a month ago, and my team got 2nd overall. 1st place team won $500! We got a free beer...

Also, this guy was there:

Notice he only has 1 full arm. Why he didn't go as J. Walter Weatherman, I will never know.

Here are a few of the hardest questions I remember from that night

  • What was the name of Anyang's father's frozen banana stand?
  • What was the name of George Sr.'s hair growth medicine?
darthsoraxiii's picture

i couldn't agree with you more. AD is one of my favorite shows of all time and i am glad other people are aware of it. i can not tell you how many times i have talked about it only to have no one in the room understand what i'm talking about. it's a travesty that this isn't more popular. a fantastic write-up. 

also something i think mentioning as part of the recurring jokes is the depressed walk with the peanuts music. i nearly died every time. :)

saltstix's picture

I agree! One of the funniest shows that I have ever watched! I still quote it to this day

Mason_M's picture

I boughtall the seasons and still watch them every six months. I absolutely love this show and continue to quote it almost every day.

I'm sorry Michael, I can't hear you. I just got blown.

JoesShittyOs's picture

I loved the show and it was a good article and stuff, but... this is a gaming walkthrough site.    

Captain_Morgan's picture

Great show. I'll probably start re-watching the entire series again some time soon.

TheHallway's picture

This is in my top 5. I love this show. I love all the characters. I love all the side charcters. Just brilliant. The writting is amazing. I want to watch it all over again. 

"For Brittish Eyes Only"  

KodRaiN's picture

Best. Comedy. Show.  Ever. 

Ever. 

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