Season Two of Arrested Development gleefully starts where Season One stopped – and finds even more juice in the narcissistic fruit that makes up the lifestyle of the Bluths.
Finding out the further quirks of each character, and what the actors can really do, turns Season Two into an absolute riot. There’s nothing quite as funny as David Cross falling over or suffering agonising pain, or Will Arnett’s stupidest man in the room thinking he’s outsmarted everyone else.
This season sees Michael (Jason Bateman) trying hard to stop his son George Michael (Michael Cera) from getting into a serious relationship with Ann (Mae Whitman) and making sure no one finds fugitive father George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) hiding in the attic of the company’s only model home.
Meanwhile, Tobias’s acting career (and marriage) fails hard enough to make him pull a Mrs. Doubtfire in his own inept way and GOB and Buster find that neighbour Lucille Austero (Liza Minelli), friend of their mother, also called Lucille (Jessica Walter), may be the love they need in their lives.
It’s all very incestuous, as everything is on Arrested Development, and the writers mine it for all the gold they can.
If ever the show were to eat itself with all the inside jokes, it would be in Maebe Fünke (Alia Shawkat), who finagles her way into the role of a studio executive, making decisions and greenlighting film projects based on schoolwork she has interns do for her. It walks a fine line between ridiculously meta and laugh-out-loud, but manages to fall on the latter side with great consistency.
Season Two continues the show’s trend for excellent plotting and insanely detailed cross-references; the entire season foreshadows a big moment in one of the character’s lives, the kind of detailed build up that, once you know it’s there, only a mad man could possibly write. Mitchell Hurwitz is that kind of man.
Buster Bluth (Veep’s Tony Hale) as the baby boy of the family has an astounding season of being oblivious about everything, from his uncle Oscar (Jeffrey Tambor in a wig) alluding to the potential that he’s not his… uncle to becoming an army man just to spite his mother – a decision that leads to the biggest rebellion of his life and karma biting him on his wrist. Hale’s baby boy approach is endearing and charming. In a show about narcissists, it’s nice to see someone who’s so out of it that he doesn’t even think about himself, let alone anyone else.
Ron Howard’s narration reaches an apex as well, with an entire episode devoted to highlighting another TV show’s poor narration, while, of course, pimping out Burger King as a great restaurant.(Promotional consideration gets you a lot of air-time in Arrested Development). Howard’s voice lends the show a playful authority without ever leading us by the hand to each plot – and boy, can he land a punchline.
The final note of this fantastic season is that it marks the introduction of one of sitcom’s greatest characters: Franklin Delano Bluth. GOB’s misguided hand-puppet, Franklin has a vicious black mouth on him, and is used with increasing hilarity by multiple Bluth family members as an accidental sounding board for their thoughts, mostly in a horribly racist way. Franklin is one of those golden characters that, even though made of material, is perfectly handled from conception all the way to the dramatic final scene.
Arrested Development’s second season is just a sublimely funny sitcom, every 22 minute show is a gem, full of belly laughs, subtle beats, puns and guest stars. This is the pinnacle of the US sitcom and with the cast and writers on top form, every episode is solid to golden. Must-watch TV indeed.