Now the story of a great television show that got cancelled and the diehard viewers who had no choice but to keep yelling and screaming until Netflix brought it back for another season, seven years later. It’s the Arrested Development Season Four Recap-A-Thon, Episode 14: “Off the Hook,” our long-awaited look at what Buster’s been up to all these years.
An earlier joke, explained right away: when Lucille returned to the penthouse for her house arrest, she picked up a martini from the table—one of many sitting out waiting for her. This, we discover in Buster’s episode, was due to his inability to alter his “daily routine” of laying out clothes and “making mother’s breakfast.” (Hence the martinis.) And there’s some quite unfortunate business with Buster making a fake Lucille to talk to and give his attention to (“He knew it wasn’t real… at first”), and here’s what’s great about Arrested Development: they know that there’s a Psycho joke there, and instead of making the easy one, they dig a little deeper. “It looked a little like that Vince Vaughn movie, Psycho,” explains the narrator—voiced by Ron Howard, whose Imagine Entertainment produced that remake. There’s a few levels, is the point.
Frankly, this viewer wouldn’t have minded Buster getting the two-episode treatment, but writers Mitch Hurwitz and Jim Vallely pack a lot into his single show: Buster’s “juicing” binge with Lucille 2 (“It’s eight a.m. somewhere!”), his reenlistment in Army and subsequent stint as—of course—a drone pilot, and his time in the home of the Love family, who are pulling a reverse Blind Side. Buster and Mrs. Love fall for each other, and Buster is ecstatic. “She started out as my mother figure!” he tells Michael. “Not surprising,” Michael replies.
Throughout the episode, Tony Hale is unceasingly funny; he continues to find the character’s strangeness, his sadness, and his neediness, and hits all of those beats equally. And there is something utterly perfect about Hale’s reading of the line, “Your medications and ailments and WHATNOT!” Not sure what it was, but that one got me.
And my favorite season-long obscure visual gag gets a nice payoff, as the clips from previous years (previously branded with the “ShowStealer Pro Trial Version” watermark) end with a split-second freeze frame and message that the “Trial version has expired.” It’s such a weird joke, for about a half of one percent of the audience. God, I’ve missed this show. I’m really sad that there’s only one more. Maybe I could save it for tomorrow?
- Garcelle Beauvais as Mrs. Ophelia Love
- Zach Woods (from The Office) as Buster’s fellow drone pilot
- Diedrich Bader (from The Drew Carey Show) as “Gunner”
- “Well, that was a freebie!”
- Lupe, at long last
- Buster leaving with his possessions packed in a sheet (as in four episodes in earlier seasons)
- “Soon, he had run out of food… that he knew how to make.”
- “And keep your ball joke to yourself, Andrew Dice Clay!”
- Narrator: “Before you skip back too far and end up in the middle of the Maeby episode, trust me: no ‘2’ was spoken.”
- Buster, to Lucille 2: “I don’t mind if it’s old! Look who I’m dating!”
- “I hope this guy likes the music acts on Saturday Night Live, because he’s gonna be watching a lot of ‘em.”
- “I’m not a motherboy anymore. I’m a mother man!”
- “Of course, the week after I got it, the 6 came out. You can play a flute with that one. It comes with a flute!”