And now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together (and sometimes watch them play softball). It’s Sports On TV: the 15 greatest sports moments of Arrested Development.
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Episode: “Key Decisions” (season 1, episode 4)
What Happens: ‘Arrested Development’ episodes are almost impossible to explain in a five sentence blurb. There’s going to be a lot of “in an episode about blank, this one thing happened.” For example, in an episode about Michael Bluth taking his brother’s girlfriend to a Mexican television awards ceremony, his brother plays catch with their father in a prisonyard and gets shivved in the back by a white supremacist. And it is hilarious.
Key line: “WHITE POWER!” “I’m … white …”
This moment exemplifies three of the best things about ‘Arrested Development:’
1. Its ability to make the ridiculous contextual
2. Its ability to make something contextually-tragic into the funniest thing you’ve ever seen
3. Its ability to be the funniest and most layered show on television four episodes in
GOB Bluth wants to be loved by his father. His father is in prison, so GOB comes up with a publicity stunt wherein he’ll use a
magic trick illusion to put HIMSELF in prison, then break out. He swallows a key, but has trouble passing it with anybody watching. About a minute after checking himself into prison he does the old “coin behind the ear” trick to a guy named WHITE POWER BILL. That makes the rest of the yard laugh at the most threatening dude ever (with the amazing quote, “Hey, White Power Bill has dirty ears. Hey, guys. Dirty-ears Bill. Dirty-ears Bill”) … so when GOB is right on the cusp of playing a meaningful game of in-prison catch with his dad, he catches a knife to the back. Now he’s stuck in prison AND he’s stabbed. “I’m white!” is one of the best line-reads ever, and the moment when its inexcusable for you to not be in love with this show.
Oh, and the fourth best thing about ‘Arrested’ — the use of impossibly stupid music in the background of scenes. See this scene and its use of John Hiatt’s ‘Cry Love.’
Episode: “Visiting Hours” (season 1, episode 6)
What Happens: Michael Bluth wants to get his father, George Sr., out of prison. George Sr. is more concerned with his prison softball team’s league performance, which is increasingly threatened by so many professional baseball players going to prison. George stays in long enough to catch a 14-inning game that puts the fear of God in him when he pays off the ump to call a bad strike and watches said ump get beaten to death with a bat. “Oh… No batter, no. No batter. Shh…”
Key line: “I hate to be a buzz kill, but I’m trying to get you out of here.” “Yeah, well, I’m trying to get us out of last place, Michael. We’re playing Rahway next week. Word has it that they’re getting Jose Canseco.”
This scene puts ‘Arrested Development’ alongside ‘The Wire’ on the list of shows with prison baseball scenes in Sports On TV columns. What can I say? Game stay the game.
One of my career goals is to get a job over at VIBE and trick Jose Canseco into watching every episode of ‘Arrested Development’ with me, just to see what he says and furiously types when he finds out they ragged on him for being a prisoner. I want him to challenge Jeffrey Tambor to a celebrity boxing match, which seems to be Jose’s only way of dealing with stress. That would lead to Jeffrey Tambor knocking him out cold with one dynamite old man punch and the best day of my life.
Episode: “Switch Hitter” (season 2, episode 7)
What Happens: And, finally, the best of the ‘Arrested Development’ softball episodes. In “Switch Hitter,” the Bluth Company and rival Sitwell Housing are set to play softball, and George Sr. believes the hair-impaired Stan Sitwell is only being nice to the Bluths to get their batting order and recruit GOB (the best player on either side) to his team. GOB ends up working for Sitwell (with Michael’s ideas) and playing for Sitwell Housing (under Michael’s orders to throw the game), and all goes according to plan until GOB, desperate for anybody’s love, realizes Sitwell actually likes and appreciates him for who he is, and was never trying to make the Bluths look bad. An inspired GOB drills a ball into left-center and charges home to score the winning run, but runs into George Michael’s girlfriend Ann, aka THE WALL. The umpire (George Sr. in disguise, taking matters into his own hands) calls GOB out, but Michael, realizing that his father’s been trying to pull the strings all along, calls GOB safe. He wasn’t, but it counts, and the Bluths lose.
Key line: “One of this guy’s eyebrows just fell in the bowl of candy beans.” “I always carry a spare.” “Well I hope you also carry a spare bowl of candy beans!”
I love Ann Veal. The conversation about her softball prowess between George Michael and his father is great:
“Okay, looks like I’m gonna need that female backup player after all. Ann’s really good at softball, huh?”
“Yeah, she’s amazing. You know, she’s got this low center of gravity. You can’t knock her over.”
“Well, I could knock her over.”
“Dad, I’m telling you, you can’t. They call her ‘The Wall.’ You know?”
“Oh, that’s great. But I could knock her over. I won’t, but I could!”
That’s pretty much every conversation I’ve had with an adult male in my life. Ann isn’t as good as George Michael says — she has the most realistic throwing arm I’ve ever seen on a person on TV — but she sure as hell can’t be knocked over. Must be all that inner beauty.
Also of note: GOB’s outfield Chicken Dance.
Episode: “Development Arrested” (season 3, episode 13)
What Happens: With the help of a black-and-white action still and an air horn, ‘Arrested Development’ forever linked the sexual act of “second base” — defined by Wikipedia as “touching or kissing the breasts, over or under the shirt, or other erogenous zones while clothed” — with the base-running style of Major League Baseball all-time hits leader Pete Rose.
Key line: “Although George Michael had only got to second base, he’d gone in head first, like Pete Rose.”
For the full experience,
The image makes a spectacular second appearance in a way I won’t spoil, assuming you are dumb and have still not watched ‘Arrested Development’ in 2013. After I live my dream of watching the show with Jose Canseco, I’m going to take in season 3 with Pete Rose, try to work him through the Mr. F storyline, and watch his brain explodes when he sees 1970s him associated with 16-year old Alia Shawkat’s boobs.
(Then we’d make a reality show about how totally normal that is.)
Episode: “Not Without My Daughter” (season 1, episode 21)
What Happens: Lucille Bluth wants to attend her adopted Korean son Annyong’s soccer game, but she doesn’t want to do it alone, for fear that the other soccer moms will think she, a woman in her 60s, is a single mother. Buster wants to pose as her husband, because Buster is f**king weird, but he can’t, because they already know he’s Lucille’s son. She tries to rope Michael into doing it, but ends up attending the game with her husband’s identical twin brother Oscar. Buster is infuriated by Oscar and taunted by the players for being fat, so, in an attempt to show that he’s A MAN, he charges onto the soccer field, destroys a bunch of kids and scores a powerful goal. On, uh, his adopted brother.
Key line: “Okay. Mother want someone to go to my soccer game with. She don’t want other soccer moms think that she is single mother. She old school.” “I liked it better when he just said Annyong.”
Buster’s horribleness at sports is revealed in some of my favorite George Sr. dialogue:
“Just wanted to check in and make sure you’re aware that your ban on organized sports in this family has been violated.”
“Ban on organized sports?”
“You know, how you wouldn’t let me sign up for anything when I was a kid.”
“Is that what you’ve been thinking all these years? No, no, look, you were… you were just a turd out there, you know? You couldn’t kick, and you couldn’t run, you know? You were just a turd.”
Episode: “Sad Sack” (season 2, episode 5)
What Happens: Buster has joined “Army,” but is having trouble getting motivated enough to complete the training obstacle course. He wants to be called names, but finds out that due to a series of lawsuits, Army can’t call you a homo anymore. Buster brings GOB (a guy who has never had a problem calling Buster names) along with him to boot camp for motivation, but GOB’s confidence is shattered thanks to a bad interview with “professional” prosecutor Wayne Jarvis. Jarvis has hacked into the Bluth’s computers and accessed photos of the Iraqi countryside, which (thanks to the Patriot Act) become public, inspiring Army to head off to war with every combat-ready soldier. GOB summons the courage (or whatever) to insult Buster, sending the boy powering over the obstacle course wall and off to Iraq. Eventually we find out that the photos of the Iraqi countryside were just photos of Tobias’ nutsack, because of course we do.
Key line: “It’s going to be a long time before Sgt. Wendell Baker calls someone ‘Private Homo’ again.”
Besides the obstacle course, there’s another great, partially-hidden sports moment in “Sad Sack” during a discussion of Ann Veal’s math skills: the one-shot introduction of SQUISHY, swim team star.
Whoever put together the yearbook at this school did a terrible job, assumedly just wandering up to people and saying GIVE ME A QUOTE, then writing down whatever the hell they said, like a cake decorator with no deductive reasoning. They’re probably the most unimportant people in the fictional world, but I’ve always wanted to know more about the people on the outskirts of the ‘Arrested Development’ yearbook gags. Wouldn’t you watch an episode about Sandy Uber?
This doesn’t technically count as a sports moment, but the tennis shot in Tobias Fünke’s collage of headshots is one of my favorite recurring ‘Arrested Development’ character images, right alongside that Glamourshot of George Michael resting his chin on his fist. Here’s the complete shot, for posterity:
I had a chance to meet David Cross at last year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, and one of my biggest regrets is that I’ll never be able to write a full-length movie starring him as Tobias about every single one of those images.
Okay, maybe not the bottom right. But a Tobias tennis movie? Yes please. It couldn’t be any worse than Wimbledon.
Episode: “Public Relations” (season 1, episode 11)
What Happens: Michael Bluth is terrible at flirting, and even worse when he’s got to do it from a stationary bike. He challenges a “cute cutie pie” at the gym to a “race up the hill,” which mostly involves him laughing and involuntarily spitting out his gum. Turns out she’s a publicist, so Michael hires her to rehabilitate his family’s horrible public image. George Michael doesn’t WANT the family’s image rehabilitated, because it’ll help his chances at getting into a prestigious private school (and distancing himself from his cousin dangereux), so he says he doesn’t like her. This causes her to freak out, quit, and try to publicly bury the Bluths. All because of a little gym flirting.
Key line: “Okay, sure, she’s, uh, she’s cute. I suppose. I mean, now that you’re making me think about it. Uh, she’s cute. She’s a cutie. She’s a little cutie pie. But I never really noticed.”
Does Carl Weathers count as sports? He was Apollo Creed. That’s sports, right?
I’ve always been in awe of people who can flirt at the gym. My experience at the gym says that everything you do AT the gym makes you look terrible, takes away your breath and makes you, I don’t know, spit out your gum every time you open your mouth. Maybe that’s why I’m a blogger, and not the protagonist of a popular television show.
Sadly, this was not ‘Arrested Development’s’ only foray into the world of exercise …
Episode: “The One Where Michael Leaves” (season 2, episode 1)
What Happens: Lindsay Bluth has decided to have an open marriage with her husband Tobias, so she makes the smallest possible effort to stay in shape. Well, to keep PART of her in shape. Michael wanders into the room, calls her lazy, spends a few seconds staring at the lady on the television, puts two and two together … then has the only reaction you could have to finding your sister doing kegels on your living room couch.
Key line: “What are you doing?” “I’m exercising, Michael.” “I see you’ve found an exercise tape made for people as lazy as you are.” “I do have a love life.” “Okay, this is going off.”
A pelvic floor exercise, more commonly called a Kegel exercise, consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor, now sometimes colloquially referred to as the “Kegel muscles”. Several tools exist to help with these exercises, although various studies debate the relative effectiveness of different tools versus traditional exercises. Exercises are usually done to reduce urinary incontinence, reduce urinary incontinence after childbirth, and reduce premature ejaculatory occurrences in men, as well as to increase the size and intensity of erections.
Okay, this is going off.
With a last name like Keglin, what ELSE could she do? If I hadn’t already written about the time Gwyneth Paltrow pretended to “jazzercise” on ‘Glee,’ this would be the worst Sports On TV exercise moment.
Episode: “Fakin’ It” (season 3, episode 10)
What Happens: Michael discovers a hidden room on the blueprint of an Iraqi model home identical to his, so he investigates, and sure enough, his model home has the same secret room. Apparently he’s the last person in the family to know about it, because George Sr. used it to store the family’s records, George Michael and Maeby use it to work out the logistics of a fake (spoiler: not fake) wedding, and Tobias uses it for … well …
Key line: “All of our family records are up here. And for some reason this stack of bodybuilding magazines.”
Tobias says he has the bodybuilding magazines for advice on how to buff up to impress his wife and save his marriage, and nothing he’s said or done in the previous 3 seasons and 9 episodes should prevent us from believing it.
Funny enough, because ‘Arrested Development’ occasionally decides something is funny and runs with it whether it is or not, this is the second “secret magazines” joke of the season.
Episode: “The Ocean Walker” (season 3, episode 6)
What Happens: In a storyline that is far too complex to explain in a What Happens blurb, Michael ends up engaged to a beautiful, sort-of British, wacky-hat wearing retarded woman played by Charlize Theron. He doesn’t know she’s mentally handicapped, even after she’s filmed trying to eat a bunch of plastic fruit, so he’s gung ho about hooking up with her. Because seriously, she’s Charlize Theron dressed like a FRUiTS girl. Her caretaker/cousin Trevor (played by Dave Thomas) (the comedian, not the Wendy’s guy) disapproves of her having sexual relations with a grown man because she’s still very child-like, but she announces that she knows what sex is, having seen Trevor’s “secret magazine.”
Key line: “Do you have any idea what a “sleepover” is? Cause it’s not just sleep.” “I know what it is, Trevor, I’ve seen your secret magazine.”
Trevor’s excuse is that Bumpaddle is a cricket magazine, leading to the comparison shot above. I can’t decide if “A VISIT FROM THE SWAT TEAM” is funnier or less funny than “BOBBY HAS A HOBBY.” Old magazine headlines are the greatest.
In case you were wondering, she wasn’t lying about learning from Bumpaddle:
I truly understand Michael’s dilemma. Charlize Theron in dessert jammies with a giant paddle #cangetit.
Episode: “The Cabin Show” (season 3, episode 1)
What Happens: The Bluth family stock is doing well, so Michael decides to enjoy the success by taking his son George Michael on a camping and fishing trip. They plan a trip to the Family Cabin, a place where neither Michael nor his brother GOB have been. Michael never went because George Sr. always pulled the “something came up” card at the last minute. GOB never even knew about it. They get into an argument about whose story is sadder, make promises to take their real/hypothetical sons to the cabin to be better men than their fathe, and by the end of the episode everybody ends up in Reno, the cabin ends up on the back of a hijacked truck driven by George Sr., and George Michael ends up with a mess of girl problems and no goddamn fishing trip.
Key line: “Hey, maybe you could pop a tent outside with your cousin Maeby.” “Oh, I don’t know…” “I’m not really the outdoorsy type.” “Well, it’d be a good chance to rub off on her.”
One of ‘Arrested Development’s’ most honest, enduring themes is that fathers are awful people who lie to you and always let you down. They promise you things, get your hopes up, and just leave you sitting on your doorstep forlornly holding fishing equipment. It’s a lot like when Cory Matthews gets ditched by his grandma in that one episode of ‘Boy Meets World,’ or like when Will’s dad shows up on ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ and accidentally causes the saddest scene in sitcom history. I guess the benefit of watching ‘Arrested Development’ is that the actual saddest thing that ever happens is characters walking away to Snoopy music, and even the deep tragedy is a joke.
Another bonus sports-related yearbook gag: Stew Bass’s nickname is “Gomer,” he hopes to one day “fish” and his quote is “Huh?” God, I wish my aspirations were to one day fish.
Episode: “Beef Consommé” (season 1, episode 13)
What Happens: GOB is looking for “Hermano,” the man he suspects is having an affair with his girlfriend Marta, star of El Amor Prohibido. When he finds out hermano is Spanish for “brother,” he doesn’t think “oh, my brother’s the one hooking up with Marta,” he thinks the culprit is the actor who plays Tio, Marta’s character’s brother. He shows up on set and tries to knock Tio out, but one of Tio’s previous roles was in a Spanish-language film based on the life of boxing great Oscar de la Hoya. Sorry, GOB.
Key line: “¿Como?” “You’re going to be in a coma, all right.”
When GOB wakes up in the hospital, Michael admits that he’s hermano, and gets GOB’s blessing. Thankfully GOB didn’t try to punch HIM out, because one of Michael Bluth’s previous roles was as Teen Wolf Too, and that shit would’ve gotten messy. It’s also good that poor Tio got to play Oscar de la Hoya pre-2003, when Oscar was a great boxer, and not post-2007, when he was washed-up and mostly famous for posing in ladies underpants. That would’ve been an entirely different movie.
Episode: “Notapusy” (season 3, episode 4)
What Happens: Michael finds out that his girlfriend Rita (Charlize Theron, the retarded one) won a “silver medal in the Olympics,” and he’s embarrassed to be out of breath in front of her, having run to meet her at the train station. She calls him a pussy, in the British way, meaning sweet or gentle, like a pussycat. Michael, believing she meant pussy in the other way, tries to overcompensate and do “guy stuff” with George Michael, who is busy doing Not Guy Stuff with his girlfriend, and ends up throwing in on a triathlon with his brother’s bastard son STEVE HOLT~!
Key line: “Michael and Steve Holt finished their triathlon in first place. Of course, they were way older.”
Of course, nothing is as it seems: Pussy didn’t mean pussy, the father/son triathlon Michael and Steve Holt trained their asses off for was a race through kiddie pools for children and Rita’s Olympic silver medal was for this:
The triathlon training montage is great, though, and another example of spectacularly bad background music:
Episode: “Making A Stand” (season 3, episode 8)
What Happens: I’ll let the narrator explain …
Key line: “As children, George Sr. would often provoke the boys to fight one another … He believed it created a competitive spirit, which equipped them for the challenges of life … He also believed footage of the tussles would be a big hit in the burgeoning home video market. He soon franchised the concept with such titles as: Boyfights 2, A Boyfights Cookout, and Backseat Boyfights: The Trip to Uncle Jack’s 70th.”
There’s no way to do the sports of ‘Arrested Development’ justice without COMBAT SPORTS, especially the ones for profit. ESPECIALLY the ones for profit that end with Michael up in a tree.
“Yo quiero leche, yo quiero leche de madre!”
I am so excited to have this show back, even if it’s for a moment, and even if it isn’t the same.