Summer DVD Club: Arrested Development, Episodes 4-6

In this second batch of Season 1 episodes, we have an Arrested Development with a fully formed voice. The “Save the Wetlands” storyline really showcases Portia de Rossi’s talents: She’s amazing as she pontificates on, then quickly abandons, her groundless ideals. Lucille, too, is in full force, flaunting her privileged snobbery—she can’t eat pool food, she says, and she’s willing to put up $10,000 to show off being bought at auction.

It’s nothing new for a sitcom to get a lot of mileage out of a character’s bigotry; it’s good for a laugh when somebody is obliviously awful, and doubles as a quick way to establish character. Lucille’s mistreatment of Latinos is on full display in these episodes. At the Latino TV awards, she asks everyone around her for a vodka tonic. She speaks to her housekeeper, Lupe, as if Lupe is a savage animal. And we now know that she once maced a “carjacker” who was really just trying to sell her flowers.

The prison’s ice cream sandwiches keep popping up, too. George Sr. has already mentioned “having a love affair” with his. Since then, Gob has tried to distract the guards by unplugging the machine, forcing them to eat the ice cream before it melts. And when Michael left George Michael with his grandfather for a dangerous few seconds, it was to get more ice cream sandwiches. I don’t think this has any deeper meaning, but it illustrates how dedicated this show is to stringing out its self-references.

I like that the show was able to pull off a rare reunion between David Cross and his Mr. Show brother Bob Odenkirk; it feels like they don't get to work together that often.

We’re starting to see a lot more hypocrisy from Michael, and I like how the show subtly points it out. Michael’s on Marta’s doorstep, trying to get with her, when she gets the call that Gob’s been shivved: He’s “been stabbed in the back.” Michael refuses to accept he’s doing anything wrong: Standing in a doorway again, this time at the entrance to Gob’s hospital room, he sanctimoniously tells Marta, “You gotta put family first.”

The last episode of this trio, "Charity Drive," is an episode where the plot is so freaking tight, it’s as clever as any of its gags. First, Lucille 1 wants to beat Lucille 2 at the auction, so she donates two tickets to The Producers, then instructs an easily flustered Buster to bid on her. But Lucille 2 is holding out for a “grand romantic gesture” from Buster, so she waits until the last second to see whether he’ll accept her offer to see The Producers with her. Since he’s afraid to be seen by Lucille 2, Buster won’t leave for the auction until after she does, meaning they’re both nearly late—at which point Buster rushes inside, hears “Lucille” called, and quickly bids his $10k before he realizes it’s not his mother on the block. This convinces Lucille 2 that Buster was planning to make a grand romantic gesture all along.

Not to mention the other plot! It turns out all the Bluth kids have been undermining Michael by using their dad’s car, each of them defacing it their own way: Gob burned it with a bad magic trick, Lindsay spilled red nail polish all over the dash, and Buster left a hammer and an excavated skull in it. All this, of course, gets Michael arrested as an apparent serial killer.

More observations to take note of, for the sake of future jokes:

... I forgot to mention this one last week: When Michael told George Sr. that actually, spouses can both be convicted of the same crime, he says “I have the worst lawyers.”

... George Sr.’s hastily-formed plan for getting out of prison: stealing hair from George Michael.

... What may have seemed a throwaway joke, but isn't: Tobias was missing in one episode because he was “at an acting workshop with Carl Weathers.”

... In prison, after realizing he can’t easily poop out the key he swallowed, Gob says “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

... One last thing: I mentioned earlier that I think Arrested Development is the pinnacle of a lot of its actors’ careers, but I forgot about Judy Greer. Though she (like Jessica Walter) is damn good in Archer, I’m still giving the nod to Kitty here.

And a couple questions for you guys:

... Who was the funniest in Episodes 4-6? I’d give Buster the award for the first three episodes, but I think this week belongs to Lindsay.

... Anybody else notice how many people casually died in these episodes? The newspaper story about Tobias parking the staircar on the tarmac said the incident led to several decapitations. George Sr. accidentally got that batter shot during the jailyard softball game. And another prisoner was shot as he tried to escape on the staircar while George Michael waited for his dad.

... And to those of you watching for the first time: How well is Michael making his case as the only Bluth who's trying to save the family? Is he selling you on that, or is he as bad as everybody else?


Ed. note: You can stay up-to-date on DVD Club news and find a listing of all related discussion stories in the TV.com Summer DVD Club Archives.


Follow TV.com writer Kevin Collier on Twitter: @KevinCollier

Comments (11)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I would say either Buster or Gob. I can never tell which one I love more. I don't think Michael is the only one trying to help, I think he is the only one who actually helping. The rest are kind of ruining everything he does by trying to help.
Reply
Flag
The new addition of Judy Greer MADE this next set of episodes. Also, I agree Lindsay really did start to shine for me, especially considering the only other show I've watched Portia D'Rossi in before was Ally MacBeal.
Reply
Flag
Judy Greer was awesome in this !! Blond, Hair up, glasses on, OR Hair down, glasses off , OR ANY combination. HOT. I really just do NOT like her look / persona in "that other show on TV that shall not be named" (Red head , bangs, b*itchy) Judy is amazing when she is allowed to do her thing, crazy / funny / witty / flirty ..... ** love it **
Reply
Flag
Gob was always the funniest character. Will Arnett is a fantastic comedy actor as he also shows in 30 Rock.
Reply
Flag
I've seen this show too many times. I think that Maebe wins these episodes for comedy. Her character is so understated I love it. She gets more screen-time later in the show, but even here she is making her comedic mark. As for people dying, I consider that to be just part of the classically insensitive comedic nature of the show, when it comes to everything from the concept of simple honesty to marital fidelity to breaking the 4th wall through the 230th wall. I think Michael does make his case adequately. It may be hard to justify at times, but the truth really is that, while he may be hypocritical at times, he actually does have the positive goal of family well-being and stability, while the others (generally excluding the kids) are at least 75% of the time focused solely on personal well being rather than making an attempt at familial bonding.
Reply
Flag
I'd go with Gob
Reply
Flag
I'm viewing this series for the first time (loving it by the way) and Michael definitely seems like the sanest Bluth. My favorite characters so far have to be Tobias and Gob.
Reply
Flag
Oh god! Michael kidnaping faux lupe!. That was SO FUNNY.
Reply
Flag
I'm rewatching AD. I'm going to watch right now episode 6, but in every episode so far you can see George Sr. The prison guards, other inmates or even Michael eating ice cream sandwitches.
Michael tells George Michael something like "It's like a country club...All the guy does is eat ice cream and play softball all day"
And he watched episode 4 to 6, like the title says.

This show is awesome. I watched several times and it just keep me laughing everytime I watch. I can name several lines and scenes that cracked me up...and I only watched 5 episodes so far. Only few comedies can do the same for me.

Who's the funnier so far? IDK...probably GOB or Buster...but I love Michael's lines. Like "Don't be afraid to ride her. Ride her hard"

"Daddy's horny Michael" lol, I love this one by George Sr.
Reply
Flag
I am sorry, i am afraid i shot my wad on what was supposed to be a dry run ;)
I just saw on wikipedia the order of the first episodes is different to the order on tv.com here. I just rewatched it, I am amazed I never picked up on the icecream before.
Reply
Flag
What episodes did you watch? Because charitydrive is episode 5, not episode 6. And I don't really remember anything about any icecream in this early episodes. They only episode with icecream, that springs to my mind must be a little later, i guess it was something with anyong and buster sitting in the prison waiting room, and buster eating icecream. So what is this mysterious episode you watched?
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook