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Post Mortem: My Favorite Episodes of "Arrested Development"

I am still mourning the loss of Arrested Development, sadly and unceremoniously killed by FOX... and by the departure of creator Mitch Hurwitz, which did in any chance of an eleventh hour rescue from deus ex machina cable net Showtime. But, though the pain is deep, I can't help reminiscing about the good times I shared with Arrested Development's irrepressible Bluth clan, times in which I was laughing so hard that many around me thought I was drunk.

To that end, here are my picks--in no particular order--for my favorite episodes of AD. While there are only five (well, sort of... six) episodes I selected to discuss, there are honestly at least a dozen episodes that could have qualified for my best of Arrested list. So without further ado...

"Pier Pressure"

Truly one of the classic episodes of Arrested Development that helped further define the show (one other being the truly superlative second episode "Top Banana"). "Pier Pressure" is otherwise known as the episode in which Buster tries to obtain medical marijuana to cure the awful vertigo suffered by his girlfriend Lucille 2 (Liza Minnelli), and pays George Michael to get it for him from Gob. But when Michael thinks George Michael is using drugs, he decides to teach him an elaborate lesson. Features the memorable phrase, "I was going to smoke the marijuana like a cigarette," the first appearance of both the Hot Cops (stripper friends of Gob who dress up like cops) and J. Walter Weatherman (Steve Ryan), George Bluth Sr.'s one-armed go-to man for lesson-teaching.

"My Mother the Car"

In this episode, also from the show's first season, Michael loses his short-term memory after he is involved a car accident with his mother Lucille, who frames him for the accident (she was trying to run over someone on a Segway whom she thought was Gob, who had failed to show up--again--at her second surprise party). In a noir-ish twist, Lucille keeps Michael drugged and secluded in her apartment so that he cannot remember what actually happened during the accident. Meanwhile, George Michael and Maeby try to sneak in to see an R-rated foreign film called "Les Cousins Dangereux," an erotic story about kissin' cousins. Gee, just like George Michael and Maeby! Features the first appearance of "Les Cousins Dangereux" and Lindsay's SLUT t-shirt (she wears it to visits her father in prison), gold krugerrands, and Lucille's appearance on World's Worst Drivers.

"Altar Egos"& "Justice is Blind"

The two-part Season One episode which could also function as a PSA about the perils of lying. Using the alias of Cherith Cutestory, Michael has a one-night stand with blind attorney Maggie Lizer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)... who isn't really blind and who is also the prosecutor in the Bluth case. Meanwhile, Maeby pretends to be her fake twin sister Surely Funke who is infected with a made-up disease while George Sr.'s admirer, Cindy Lightballoon (Jane Lynch), turns out to be an undercover agent who has actually fallen for him. Oh, and Gob gets married on a dare to an unknown woman (Gob's wife, heh) played by his real-life wife (Amy Poehler). It's an episode that features both Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Amy Poehler's first appearances, Maeby's alter ego, and a classic Lucille-ism ("It looks like you're tweaking her nipples through a chain-link fence.") Filled with deceit, several alter egos, and a slew of hilarious double-crosses, this is one of Arrested's finest moments.

"Good Grief"

An early Season Two episode and hands-down one of my favorites. With George Sr. on the run from the law, Lucille hires Ice, a bounty hunter/party planner to find her missing husband, who is actually much, much closer than they think (he's hiding in a Saddam-style spider hole on the property). Meanwhile, Michael tries to mend George Michael's relationship with his completely forgettable girlfriend Ann (Mae Whitman), Gob tries to pull off an elaborate illusion at his father's fake funeral, and Maeby--looking to emancipate herself--attempts to set Lindsay up with Ice. Features Buster in a tight stripper's army uniform, the return of Lindsay's SLUT t-shirt, an elaborate Charlie Brown reference (after being dumped by Ann, George Michael walks home with head slunk low as the theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas plays... and passes by a dog sleeping atop a red doghouse), and a classic Arrested Development quote from Michael ("The mere fact that you call making love "pop pop" tells me you're not ready").

"Motherboy XXX"

Another outrageous and hilarious Season Two episode. After Buster loses a hand in a freak accident involving a carnivorous seal set lose by Gob, Lucille kidnaps grandson George Michael for a mother-son dance, a tradition she has shared for decades with Buster. But when Michael and Buster discover what Lucille has done, they launch Operation: Hot Mother and set off to rescue George Michael from having to zip up Lucille in her Cher costume. Meanwhile, Tobias portrays George Sr. in a TV movie about the Bluths, directed by Tobias' former acting teacher Carl Weathers and Gob reunites with his estranged wife (played again by real-life wife Amy Poehler) who is now in the military and will go to any lengths--even seducing Gob--to avoid annulling their marriage. Features the return of Gob's Wife and Carl Weathers, the sight of Henry Winkler (as sleazy family lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn) literally jumping a shark, Dave Attell playing Tobias (and wearing Tobias' trademark cut-offs) in the fictionalized Scandalmakers version of the Bluth story, and Buster crashing through a skylight after trying to use his hook as part of a zipline... in an attempt to free a Sonny Bono-disguised George Michael. Honestly, you can't make this stuff up.

So, what are your favorite Arrested Development moments?

What's On Tonight

8 pm: The Amazing Race (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); One Tree Hill (WB); George Lopez/Freddie (ABC); The Loop/American Idol (FOX; 8:39-9:30 pm); America's Next Top Model (UPN)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); Heist (NBC); The Bedford Diaries (WB); Lost (ABC); American Idol (8:30-9:30)/Unan1mous (FOX); Veronica Mars (UPN)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Law & Order (NBC); The Evidence (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: The Amazing Race.

Still can't quite get used to the idea that Amazing Race is now Wednesdays at 8 pm. There's something that feels off about that. On tonight's episode ("Herculean Effort for Some Herculean Dudes"), teams each receive part of Da Vinci's famed "Vitruvian Man'' and must locate the rest in order to receive their clue. Oh and this week finds the gang in Greece, where they compete in Olympic-style games, including some mud-wrestling. I was going to make a comment about Jeremy and Eric after last week's photo op reveal, but no, I must resist the urge to do so.

9 pm: Lost.

Looks like this might be the last new episode of Lost before May sweeps (I know for certain it's not on next week, as ABC has slotted a two-hour Alias episode as it returns to the network). On tonight's episode ("S.O.S."), Jack and Kate rekindle their almost relationship, while husband and wife Bernard and Rose spar over Bernard's plan to create an S.O.S. signal. You tell him, Rose. And while you're at it, don't give him that Apollo chocolate bar you saved for him.

(Oh, and tonight's episode is another super-sized one, clocking in at about 64 minutes, so set your TiVo accordingly.)

10 pm: What Not to Wear on BBC America.

Those feisty fashion dames Trinny and Susannah are back on BBC America with a fresh batch of episodes of the original UK What Not to Wear (I loathe the US version). Makeover experts and authors Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine are notorious for their "cruel to be kind" approach to the transformation process, but in contrast to previous seasons, nowadays the women they makeover are no longer unsuspecting victims but rather women who compete for the opportunity. What Not to Wear is funny, often frustrating, and always eye-opening and has the distinction of being the only fashion show I can watch.

Plus, Trinny and Susannah just kick ass.

10 pm: Top Chef on Bravo.

On tonight's episode ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner") of the Bravo cooking competition, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's cooking guru Ted Allen challenges the contestants to create an inexpensive appetizer for a dinner party. Me, I am still trying to figure out why Stephen wore a suit and tie to sell street food in the Mission district last week.

Comments

Anonymous said…
All excellent picks! I would also have to add Season One's "Bringing Up Buster" in which Buster moves in with Michael after his mother kicks him out of the penthouse which leads to Michael and Buster spooning! Also in this episode, Tobias directs George Michael and Maeby's school play. David Cross shows off his physical comedy here...rolling onto the stage in the fetal position at one point and doing a face plant from his director's chair at another.

And an honorable mention from Season Two would be "Afternoon Delight" which features innapropriate family sing alongs, Lucille driving while high, and Gob in a giant banana suit. Does comedy get any better than this?
Anonymous said…
Awesome choices. I loved "Good Grief" and "Afternoon Delight" and have a certain relish for "Motherboy XXX."

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