”It was Arrested Development”
Is this the greatest third season of any show on television? You can’t see me, but I’m unconvincingly shaking my head. These were some of the most genius-ish written episodes of television ever, taking into account the first two seasons. If you watch any almost any other good TV series’ third season before watching the first two, there is generally a latching-on point to hitch an attention span, and little is lost beyond the exact experiences that led the characters you see to the mindsets that they then hold. With Arrested Development’s third season, you’re missing out on at least eight minutes of backwards-compatible referential information of a twenty-two minute episode. Like reading the last three chapters or watching the last fifteen minutes of something, starting with these (then) final thirteen episodes is stupid. Viewer stupidity is what Mitch Hurwitz and the writers exploited with their masterfully-executed Mr. F mini-arc, though they might have called us all something more reta…"Hello, Michael." I only chose four episodes here since it was regrettably a shorter season and I was short on time, though I had initially intended to only do three. You can't blame a guy who meant to only cover two episodes. Come on!
For British Eyes Only
“I’m just in the middle of a stupid girl problem, that’s all.”
“I don’t even have a girl, much less a stupid one.”
“No, the problem is stupid. The girl isn’t stupid.”
“But if they ever had a child, it would be…”
This is an amazing way to begin an episode, with Michael and George Michael waking up next to each other in half of a log cabin, each talking about two completely different things, and neither latching onto the grander idea behind what was happening in each of their lives. Michael ends up becoming enamored with a girl whose mental capabilities were on a tangent, and George Michael is of course referring to his and Maeby’s situation. It also ends up letting us know in the long run that for all that Ron Howard as a narrator is aware of, he didn’t even know about Lindsay being adopted at that point. Unless their kid would have just been naturally stupid.
”My whole face is British.”
Comedy vet Dave Thomas and the charmingly adorable Charlize Theron play an uncle-niece combo for this five episode stint, constantly keeping both characters and audience members trying to figure out what's going on. And anyone who says they knew what was going on all along is mental - so maybe that person and Rita would get along. This show pokes fun at so many personality types, it's obvious that British folks would make the cut, with the capsule-sized insanity of Wee Britain and several James Bond visual and audio cues making that apparent. Michael's innate discomfort with talking to women he is attracted to dips back into "Is Michael a murderer?" waters, as his entry into Britishisms included comparing Rita to a prostitute and and himself to Jack the Ripper, all while unharmoniously tossing about British phrases out all willy nille. One of those phrases: As you like it. As Ron Howard puts it: “Had he been Jack the Ripper, he would have soothed himself in a most unsavory way. But instead, he just sat in his car and ate a whole thing of candy beans.”
George Sr. is now on house arrest - “More touching.” – and this leads to some amazing things later on, but for now gives us one of the first times we see George and Lucille together as a somewhat normal couple, rather than it being some kind of court-ordered thing. (Even though it is a court-ordered thing.) We can’t emphasize enough that no one is making fun of Andy Griffith, but the whole pay-for-play deal with the fictional lawyers held such potential, and to have L.A. Law’s Harry Hamlin be the actual paid for stand-in was kind of spectacular, as it’s a much more honed-in pop culture reference. As messed up as the Abu Ghraib picture was last season, the picture and simultaneous comment about Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein together made me look over my shoulder the first time I watched it. We’ll get into it later, but beyond relying on previous seasons to establish its jokes, Arrested Development was very much a product of the exact time in which it was created.
But fuck plot and story and all that. This is the episode where we got to see seven chicken impersonations. George Sr., Lindsay and Lucille doing it all at once is probably more memorable than whoever got re-elected last year. And then we get a brief G.O.B. chicken performance. Later, Michael repeatedly clucks to Lindsay on the phone (ending with a questionable “-uck” after he got into a wreck) and Tobias actually appeared as the chicken stand-in to G.O.B.’s chicken, and he gave a rousing “Bawk!” Few shows can possibly build up the amount of potential for chicken impersonations that this series does with ease.
Tobias’ hair plugs are worth about three paragraphs on their own, but we must rely just on picturing him screaming for hours. The same goes for all the implications made about what George Sr. and Lucille did with Buster’s prosthetic hand, which went through the “Pots and Pans” cycle, don’t worry. Free Bird. Free Chicken. It’s an impeccable twenty-two minutes of comedy.
Things That Make The Episode Memorable
When we first meet Rita, she’s trying to pile sugar packets into the ring at the top of a condiment holder. And it meant nothing on first viewing.
“And the soup of the day is bread.”
“You’re a regular Brad Garrett.” He’s just won the Emmy, beating out Jeffrey Tambor, to whom the joke is delivered.
Tobias calling himself “buy-curious” and saying he has a “TV opportunity” are two jokes that you just don’t want to have to explain to an elderly relative.
Rita’s hats are already superiorly over the top.
“You haven’t had a serious relationship since your wife. And…you guys weren’t even speaking towards the end. “
“Lot of that was the coma.”
“Yeah. I’ve heard your side of it.”
This show even uses arbitrary blurring – as in the digitally-altered shot of Buster’s hand appliance hole – for comedic effect. Jokes. Are. Everywhere. Dot com.
“Mr. Gay, he’s bleeding!”
Speaking of bleeding, how is Rita’s condition not already bleeding obvious?