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Power Rankings: Arrested Development Characters, Part 2

21 Jun

The gang, again

In our continued coverage of all things Arrested Development in the wake of the long-awaited new season, we’ve been ranking the characters.  Part 1 can be found here.  This is part 2, five through one.  Moving on.

5. Tobias – Though everyone gets their share, Tobias and Buster are the physical comedy 1 and 1A of Arrested Development.  Many of Tobias’s funniest moments revolve around bits that sound stupid or infantile when explained, and it’s vastly to David Cross’s credit that he makes them hilarious when viewed.  A top two character in my early viewing of the show, some of Tobias’s bits don’t stand up as well on repeated viewings, particularly the continued poor choices of language he uses and the constant Tobias-is-gay harping.  It’s funny for a while, but sometimes it seems as if Arrested Development doesn’t know when to pull back on a joke and go in another direction.  Still, he sits here because plenty of the bits do work, like his simple awkward getting up on the stage when he’s directing a high school play, and because the writing is so clever that even though you wish they would pull back, they still manage to make his inappropriate language frequently hilarious.  His performance as Mrs. Featherbottom is a highlight. It maximized Tobias’s awkward potential and played on his obliviousness without necessarily smacking you in the face with “Tobias is gay.”   The Arresetd Development line that comes up most often for me in day to day situations is the tail end of Tobias’s ” “No, it never does. I mean, these people somehow delude themselves into thinking it might, but… but it might work for us.”  But for funniest in the moment, it falls just behind the line below.

Best Line:  “You know, first of all, we are doing this for her, because neither one of us wants to get divorced. And second-of-ly, I know you’re the big marriage expert – oh, I’m sorry, I forgot, your wife is dead! ” – Season 2, Episode 3 “Amigos”

4. Lucille – Lucille bumped up into the top four for me after rewatching the first three seasons.  I had her ranked lower in my memory from years ago but after watching all of the episodes again I have absolutely no idea why that could be.  Her acidic put downs of her family members are consistently hilarious and her haughty sense of entitlement is clearly where Lindsay gets hers from, but Lucille’s is funnier.  She’s frequently in top form and gets to rip all of the characters apart. It’s easy enough to insult a Bluth, but no one gets the freedom to say things like Lucille does.  My favorite recurring Lucille bit may be her constant referral to her not caring for G.O.B.  The new episodes show off her personality perfectly when she has the attitude and ability to lead her little prison gang, but soon gets on the nerves of all of the other gang members so much with her constant sniping that they want her out desperately.  She’s far and away the meanest Bluth, which is some shows might be a detriment, but here gives her the freedom to speak her mind.  Her surprise at seeing Gene Parmesan provides a wonderful rare gleeful Lucille moment.   For her line, I’m actually going to cheat and use a snippet that has a Michael response in between, because most of her best quotes involve her responses to other people.

Best line:  Lucille: “I’ll be in the hospital bar.”

Michael: “Uh, you know there isn’t a hospital bar, Mother.”

Lucille: “Well, this is why people hate hospitals.” – Season 1, Episode 4 – “Key Decisions”

3. Michael – In the first three seasons, Michael acted largely as the straight man, but he was far more hilarious than comedic straight men often are.  The elements that turn him away from straight man in the fourth season to just another unsuccessful, troubled Bluth were present the whole time.  The self-absorption and inability to listen to what anyone else says or thinks may not have largely affected his position at the Bluth Company in the first couple seasons but is largely responsible for his downfall in season four.  His frequent retort “I’m leaving this family” turns into self-parody in an oft-repeated scene in the fourth season, as it turns out no one cares except Micheal.  He’s no longer keeping the family together.  This allows Michael even further to show off his comic chops.  I don’t blame him that he got stuck with the difficult job of anchoring the exposition-heavy first episode of the new season. Rather, I credit the fact that he was the most logical character to start off any story of Arrested Development with and make the most out of it.  His series of jokes at not being able to recognize George Michael’s girlfriend Ann is my favorite running bit.  Hilarious moments in the new season include his constant retelling of the four person elimination vote and his extremely extended lie about traffic to his son.

Best line: “Jessie… No, I was just saying your name as you walked away. I didn’t… I have no follow-up.” – Season 1, Episode 11 – Public Relations

2. George Michael – One of the only changes that occurred after viewing the fourth season was that I swapped Michael and George Michael.  They’re still incredibly close, but the first George Michael episode may have been my favorite of the season, and both of his episodes came towards the end which may have skewed my thought process.  I know awkward comedy doesn’t work for everyone, but George Michael’s awkwardness is incredible and consistently leads to laughs.  George Michael was the last character in the new season to realize that he couldn’t break out of being who he was.  We’re led to believe he’s become a successful internet start up founder but learn later that it’s the same George Michael who is only marginally more successful than the other Bluths. The lie about Faceblock grows and grows as George Michael, like his father, tries to continually lie his way out of it rather than tell the truth, putting himself in situations in which the truth is harder and harder to reveal.  His moments with his father are often strong, and their position next to each other on this list is no coincidence. There was surely something unsubtle about the pointing out by narrator Ron Howard of how long it took him to respond to people in the new season, but it was still funny, and his “solve for x” attempt to hit on Maeby was amazing.

Best Line: “Say what you want about America – thirteen bucks can still get you a hell of a lot of mice!” – Season 1, Episode 21 – “Not Without My Daughter”

GOB and Franklin

1. G.O.B. – George Michael and Michael are both high on this list largely because of their relatively subtle humor.  G.O.B. isn’t.  His lines are often over the top.  He’s much more nuts they either of them, and willing to go a lot farther in pursuit of anything (see: pretending to be in a gay relationship with his nephew).  Arnett is so good at this character that he’s portrayed it in other shows, but it’s best here.  He’s constantly insecure and wants to be both liked by Michael and be better than Michael at the same time.  He’s the most easily manipulated Bluth, and perhaps the most incompetent.  He gets many of the best lines, and he turns them into classics with his delivery.  Some of his stupid lines that really have absolutely no reason to be funny are still hilarious.  For example, I keep finding myself repeating or thinking of how he sings to Michael, in the new season, “It’s so easy to forget” when trying to give Michael a forget-me-now, and then calls him out as “Stupid forgetful Michael.”  Honestly, almost all of his bits are hilarious, including nearly everything associated with his magic career as well as his puppet Franklin.  His description of trying to pick up women at a pageant is phenomenal, when he explains that the “First place chick is hot, but has an attitude, doesn’t date magicians. Second place is someone weird usually, like a Chinese girl or a geologist. But third place, although a little bit plain, has super low self-esteem.”  I’m picking one line because I have to, but there’s so many others that spring to mind that are equally hilarious.  I could do a top 10 of G.O.B. without thinking too deeply before I could name two equally funny Lindsay quotes.

Best line:  “Michael if I make this comeback I’ll buy you one hundred George Michael’s you can teach to drive.” – Season 2, Episode 15 – “Sword of Destiny”