We are five days away from new episodes of Arrested Development airing on Netflix. After the show aired its last episode in 2006, there were flirtatious rumors rumbling around Hollywood about an Arrested Development film on the horizon. Annually I pissed myself when a cast member talked hopefully about a film version of the show. Yet, as the years passed, that rumor evolved into a delusional pipe dream for fans like me. While I waited for a tease to become an actuality, I ran through the series’ three seasons at a ferocious pace. On many nights I found myself laughing hysterically while unraveling the dense jokes show creator Mitchel Hurwitz delicately placed in each episode. From hysterical bits of foreshadowing layered in the background to punch lines that don’t appear until episodes later, Arrested Development is the kind of show that feels alive, even years after its death. Now that it’s resurrected from cancellation hell, I figured it’s more than relevant now to divulge my ten favorite Arrested Development episodes over the course of the next five days. Obviously I recommend all of the show’s 53 episodes, but these ten episodes are exemplary and timeless. So, LET THE GREAT EXPERIMENT BEGIN!
#10. Pilot: Original Air Date- November 3rd, 2003
Most pilots are experimental in nature. Existing within the pilot is the show’s core themes and characters, but often a show’s creator(s) alters many, many of the show’s traits between the first episode and episode two. Arrested Development doesn’t defy this notion by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s such a terrific primer for the dynamic relationships on display, as well as the varying themes it lampoons throughout much of its run. What are these themes? Oh, you know, typical network stuff like incest, materialism, and the power of illusions…or magic.
Sure, the episode is a little rough around the edges- Ron Howard’s narration is lacking the same enthusiasm found in the future episodes- but it terrifically establishes who our characters are, what makes them behave like self-important buffoons, and ultimately what redeems their shallow indulgences. In addition to that, it lays the foundation for the show’s narrative structure, which zips forward aggressively, assuming the audience is actively engaged. The only time the show caters to those who are willing to turn off their brain is through brisk narrations and end of the show segments, which may or may not always provide the audience with an introduction to the next episode.
Favorite Quote: Michael Bluth: Get rid of the Seaward. Lucille Bluth: I'll leave when I'm good and ready.
#9. Development Arrested: Original Air Date-February 10th, 2006
I think it’s only fitting that this list not only begins with the episode that started it all, but also the episode that was, up until now, the show’s defacto ending. Probably to no one’s surprise, the episode plays out like a carbon copy of the pilot, finding the Bluth’s completing the vicious, yet hilarious cycle they’ve created for themselves. Finally, in this final episode, the Bluth family is ready to rise from the depths of financial ruin and social disarray, but they tear apart their saccharine ending and deliver an honest, well deserved bookend to their indulgent journey.
As I look back on the episode, it truly galvanized my respect for Hurwitz. After all, he stayed true to the show’s spirit, and refused to undermine the characters and storylines he crafted over the course of 53 episodes. But up until now, there was always a somber undercurrent haunting the episode. More to the point, the episode always lead me to ponder what the show could’ve been if the third season had a full order of episodes instead of the 13 that Fox granted Hurwitz and his creative team. Regardless, Development Arrested is a fantastic way to end one of television’s most inspired, devious, and hilarious shows.
Favorite Quote: Tobias Fünke: I booked a wonderful spot for the party - the Queen Mary. Perhaps I should call the hot cops and tell them to come up with a more nautical theme. Hot sailors. Better yet... Hot sea... Michael: [quickly interrupting] I like hot sailors. Tobias Fünke: Me too.