By Joseph Gibson
Counting the seven funniest moments in the history of the recently resurrected sitcom Arrested Development would be a little like trying to isolate the seven coldest pieces of ice in the freezer, or the bluest blue man in the Blue Man Group. But that won’t stop me from trying, with this scientifically compiled and collated compendium of the most hilarious moments of the series’ legendary first three seasons.
One of the central running gags of Arrested Development is Michael Bluth’s perpetual inability to communicate with his son George Michael, despite his absolute devotion to him. Perhaps the first example of this can be found in this exchange, when father and son have a misunderstanding about what the most important thing in life is.
Of all the sitcoms in television history to utilize the celebrity guest star, Arrested Development is probably the best at it. Oftentimes a celebrity will hop on to the show as if out of nowhere, like when a fleeting reference to an acting class taught by Carl Weathers leads to perhaps the show’s best celebrity guest appearance. It’s hard to pick the best of Weathers’ multiple cameos, but his introduction as a loophole-crazed spendthrift on an airport shuttle with Tobias Funke is definitely up there.
Another key part of Arrested Development’s charm is its blink-and-you’ll-miss-them throwaway gags, often ingeniously parodying certain aspects of TV and movies. My favorite is the short tribute to departed makeup artist Ramon Villalobos. Rest in peace, Ramon.
There are many possible ways to end the sentence “Buster gets his hand bitten off by a ____.” But “seal” is probably the funniest – don’t ask me why, I’m not a comedy scientist. And the fact that the phrase “loose seal” sounds just like “Lucile,” the name of Buster’s domineering mother and matriarch of the Bluth clan, is just one of those Arrested Development grace notes that seems like a gift from God.
Just so you know, it was really, really hard not to have this list just be 7 of Tobias’ best moments. But if I had to pick just one minimally context-necessary Tobias moment, it would be the time he in his alter-ego of “Mrs. Featherbottom” (basically a mixture of Mrs. Doubtfire and Mary Poppins) attempts to fly from a second floor staircase to the ground with nothing but an umbrella.
When you get right down to it, Arrested Development is essentially about family. That’s why so many of the show’s running gags involving all of the Bluths using similar phrases, having similar problems, or not knowing the Spanish word for “brother.” But my favorite is their bizarre inability to correctly imitate a chicken. It’s spread out among the show’s four seasons, but in this glorious moment three Bluths did three different chicken dances at once.
Narrator Ron Howard is one of the unsung heroes of Arrested Development, but he finally gets sung after all when the show’s plot has Carl Weathers directing an episode of the TV show Scandalmakers about the Bluths that features a mediocre narrator. Howard, a narrator who takes pride in his work, takes every opportunity to criticize the other guy’s subpar narration, and finally ends the episode on a triumphant note. That’s just good narration right there.