Inching towards mediocrity.


Developing Arrested. (Now with 45% more illusions!)

Well.

“Arrested Development” was an amazing show. For those who haven’t seen it (and for shame to all of you!), it revolved around the wealthy Bluth family and their legal woes revolving around patriarch George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor). The show was famous for it’s inside jokes, subtle references, and irreverent humour – all stemming from a ridiculous cast of characters who were (barely) held in check by the stoic, but terminally put upon middle son, Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman.)

The show had easily one of the greatest core ensembles I’ve ever witnessed on a television show; from the beautiful but spoiled sister (Portia DiRossi) to her clueless actor/analrapist husband (David Cross), the cast gelled with perfect chemistry.

But the real beauty of “Arrested Development” wasn’t just the Bluth family. It was also the unforgettable rogue’s gallery of supporting characters surrounding them that added to the shows treasure trove of “wtf?” moments. The Bluths were a bizarre family to be sure, but it was somehow comforting to know that they were the rule, not the exception – their world, in Orange County, California, was brimming with a host of other lunatics, some of which were far more outrageous than any single member of the Bluth family tree.

So, here now are my picks highlighting these outlandish citizens of the O.C. (don’t call it that.) Fifteen characters, who’s sole purpose it would seem, was to simply make the Bluths look normal by comparison.

stan sitwell

Fifteen: Stan Sitwell. (Ed Begley Jr.)

Funny in his own right, Stan Sitwell is the hairless CEO of Sitwell Enterprises, a rival housing company to the Bluths. But it’s the pun in his name,combined with the pun in the name of Lucille Austero’s own company Standpoor that showcases the small joke details

these writers will go to any lengths to reach. Sitwell/Standpoor? Throwaway? Maybe. Corny? More than likely.

Solid gold? ABSOLUTELY. And that weird little name dropping business is actually one of the more obvious gags on the show, so that’s saying something too.

Fourteen: Wayne Jarvis. (John Michael Higgins.)

wayne jarvis

John Michael Higgins, a veteran of improv including many Christopher Guest movies, is always pretty damn solid. No exception here, playing first the Bluth’s defense attorney, and then their prosecutor with straight-faced gusto. What else can you say about a man once called “the worst audience participant

Cirque du Soleil ever had?” He may not have found their buffoonery amusing, but we find his to be just fine indeed.

Thirteen: J. Walter Weatherman. (Steve Ryan.)

I think it’s safe to say that the only person on the planet who’s more deranged than a father who would use a one-armed j. walter weathermanman to teach his children grotesque lessons about minute infractions, is a one-armed man who would happily oblige him. Whether it’s yelling, forgetting to leave a note, or even teaching people lessons, you can always depend on J. Walter Weatherman and his prosthetic arm to be there, ready to have it gruesomely ripped off to prove some insane point – always followed by his gruff summary of whatever ridiculous lesson was supposedly being taught.

 

dr fishman

 Twelve: Dr. Fishman. (Ian Roberts.)

Also known as “Dr. Wordsmith”, this terribly literal doctor seems to always be working whatever shift at the hospital it is that requires him to deal directly

with the Bluths in any time of need. His schtick is to say something to the concerned family that seems perfectly straightforward, and couldn’t possibly be misinterpreted in any way, and then seem confused when the family doesn’t react the way he would assume they would.

For example: When Buster was attacked by a loose seal, and he proclaimed the youngest Bluth to be “all right.” Confused at the family’s immediate relief, he then revealed that he was going to be “all right” because the seal had bitten off his left hand. It’s a recurring gag that somehow never gets old, and always leaves the family screaming at him, and demanding a different physician, while he calmly states that this is how he pictured them reacting to the bad news.

Eleven: Ann Paul Veal. (Mae Whitman.)

ann veal

Perhaps the only character on this list who’s so memorable for being so unmemorable, Ann Veal (sometimes affectionately referred to as Egg, Yam, Annhog, Annabell, Plant, Bland, Plain, etc.) was the girl who’s face will be forever etched in George Micheal’s mind. More hilarious for the family’s collective reaction to her than for her own merits, Ann was nevertheless the love of young George Micheal’s life, even if his family couldn’t understand why. From the hilarious nicknames bestowed on her by family members who either couldn’t, or were unwilling, to remember her actual name, to Micheal’s intense, if not somewhat curious, hatred towards her, Ann was responsible for some of the show’s best, and longest running, gags. Oh, and she later on dated Gob for some reason.

Her?

Ten: Franklin. (Franklin Delano Bluth.)

franklin bluth

In a characteristically misguided effort to “urbanize” his magic act, Gob briefly utilized a sassy, street-wise African American puppet named Franklin. Despite not being terribly adept at ventriloquism, and despite Franklin being borderline offensive, Gob nevertheless performs with the puppet at a nightclub in Torrance (where he receives a severe beating after the show) and even attempts to record an album with it, called Franklin Comes Alive. The album’s only two songs include the duet “It Ain’t Easy Being White” (a song that Gob was hoping would “break down racial barriers”) and a cover of Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” recorded especially for Michael.

Oh, and he also uses Franklin to (repeatedly) drug unsuspecting family members with ether.

Nine: Larry Mittleman. (Bob Einstein.)larry mittleman

Larry, portrayed by the always hilarious Super Dave Osbourne (Bob Einstein) is a professional surrogate. His purpose, you see, is to attend functions for incarcerated executives (such as George Sr.) using an earpiece and a camera to allow said executive to speak through him, and keep up to date with what’s happening. Funny concept in itself, but it’s Einstein’s deadpan, straight-faced delivery of George’s comments that make Larry such a winner. Always the professional, Larry never loses his cool and very rarely breaks character – though he has been known to misinterpret George Sr.’s words from time to time. It’s only when he has the undignified task of building a train set with Gob that he finally loses it.. Gob assumed he was spending quality time with his father; Buster, who had hijacked Larry, was happy to be spending time with his older brother. Gob’s angry comments after finding this out, promptly results in Larry punching Gob in the face.

Eight: Uncle Jack Dorso. (Martin Short.)

jack dorso

"TO THE NUTS!"

Despite only appearing in one episode, the Bluth’s “Uncle Jack” (he’s not their real uncle) remains one of the most original and bizarre creations of a character I’ve ever seen, on this show or otherwise. Brought in by Michael to use his massive wealth (he owns a series of gyms) to help the Bluths save their company, Jack is a 90 year old body builder who lost the use of his legs on his 70th birthday (while performing his annual feat of strength) and needs to be carried around by a muscular, half-deaf assistant named Dragon. And if you don’t find that premise even remotely funny, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

Seven: Kitty Sanchez. (Judy Greer.)kitty sancez

George Sr.’s long suffering, and permanently horny secretary is desperate to carry George’s child (for whatever reason) and uses sex as a weapon – despite not being terribly attractive, with or without her glasses, botched (and cheap) boob job and all. Her catchphrase, and another recurring joke on the series that occasionally gets transferred to other characters, is to shout “you can say good-bye to these!” right before she lifts up her shirt to reveal whatever crooked mess lurks beneath it. She has slept with both George Sr. and Gob (even though he doesn’t find her attractive, and she complains about him being “girly” afterward), and is convinced that Michael is obsessed with her “rack” – which may be true, but it’s clearly more out of medical curiosity than any sort of sexual attraction. Oh, and her AA sponsor may or may not be John Larroquette.

Six: Bob Loblaw. (Scott Baio.)

Bob LoblawThe Bluth’s third lawyer, after the quitting of their first, and the dismissal of their second, is the very professional Robert Loblaw. The name is funny enough, but there’s even a little bit of an in-joke in the casting. The Bluths previous attorney, Barry Zuckercorn, was played by Henry Winkler. So who better to replace the Fonz than Chachi? It’s like the “Happy Days” reunion no one ever asked for!

When Bob’s not representing the Bluths, or simultaneously representing Tobias in his divorce case with Lindsay, he can usually be found working on his blog – the Bob Loblaw Law Blog. There was a lot of setting up in the series to finally make it to that joke, and by god, it paid off.

Steve Holt

"STEVE HOLT!"

Five: Steve Holt! (Justin Grant Wade.)

Steve Holt, commonly referred to by himself as Steve Holt! is Gob’s illegitimate son, though we don’t find this out until the second season. (Michael alludes to it, however, by remarking that Steve is “basically a young Gob.” He is also George Micheal’s

main rival for his cousin Maebe’s affections – a confusing triangle to begin with, made only more confusing when we learn that Gob is Steve’s father, thus making Maebe Steve’s cousin as well. Over enthusiastic, and prone to yelling inane words of encouragement (“there’s no ‘i’ in ‘win’!”) Steve desperately seeks a father figure to bond with – and unfortunately ends up with Gob, who is also seeking a father figure to bond with.

Oh, and he loves magic.

Four: Gene Parmesan. (Martin Mull.)

gene parmesanAnother ridiculous character who sadly only appeared for one episode was Gene Parmesan, Private Detective. Despite “being the best” (he was, in fact, “far from the best”) Gene is nevertheless hired by Lucille to help track down her husband. One of Gene’s many quirks, is to approach Lucille with information, in disguise, dramatically revealing himself to Lucille’s screams of delight – even if she’d already correctly guessed his true identity. It isn’t blatantly stated, but this may be the only reason she continues to employ his services.

Three: Oscar Bluth. (Jeffrey Tambor.)

oscar bluthGeorge Sr.’s identical twin, hippie brother, Oscar has lived on handouts his entire life, thus leaving him stress-free – and with a full head of hair that Lucille finds irresistible, and George finds maddening. It is also revealed that he is Buster’s biological father – though everybody, including the audience, figures that out long before the youngest Bluth does, thanks to Oscars constant, and blatantly obvious, hints. Oscar also works really well as a decoy for George, continuously getting jumped by police who mistake him for his fugitive brother. Since Lucille is cheating on George with Oscar throughout the series, George feels that it’s simply his right to abuse his brother for his own needs. Possibly Oscar’s greatest achievement, however, was penning a song for David Cassidy called “All You Need Are Smiles” – an act that had Joan Baez call him “the shallowest man in the world.”

Two: Barry Zuckerkorn. (Henry Winkler.)

barry zuckercornBarry is the Bluths lawyer for much of the series, though it seems to be based more on loyalty than actualy skill or use. Common buzzwords used to describe Barry could be “inept”, “hopeless” and “creepy.” He seems to lack any real legal knowledge or talent, and has been known to approach cases without being “super prepared.” He is also fond of hanging out at rest stops, which, when mentioned on the show, is immediately followed by a shot of a very dark and sketchy rest stop facility. He appears to be fond of transvestites, and to some extent Michael Bluth, despite being outwardly homophobic. He is also known to microwave Ding Dongs with the wrapper still on them, although it is not clear how many times he has attempted this.

carl weathers

"You know, just two adults getting a stew on."

One: Carl Weathers. (Carl Weathers.)

Carl Weathers seems like a good sport. His appearance on the show not only spoofs struggling actors, but struggling actors such as Carl Weathers. His thriftiness is evident in his purposely getting bumped from flights – after he discovered that the airline pays passengers who were bumped $300 for the inconvenience. And Carl Weathers has no qualms about cashing in.

His main relationship on the show is with aspiring actor Tobias Funke. Tobias had attended a Carl Weathers fighting workshop some time ago, but Weathers had failed to show – he had been bumped from his flight and was collecting $300.

Weathers is also fond of stew; he has the ability (or the desperation) to combine any leftover food he discovers, and thus “get a stew goin'”. He’s also not opposed to attending dinner functions with strangers, as long as there is a cheap (or free) meal involved. Weather’s is hilarious in the role, assuming that he was in on the joke. And if he wasn’t, then it’s still pretty damn funny.

Albeit a little sad.

Well.

That about sums that up. Hopefully they can get this movie finally going at some point in the near future…the world needs the Bluths!

And more Carl Weathers!

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