Most of you readers of the site will know by now that my love for Arrested Development knows no bounds. I have the curse of constantly comparing every new show to it, and realize that nothing will ever be as good.
When it was on the air, it was practically comedy perfection, and I’ve written previously on some of the show’s best recurring jokes, but now I want to do something a bit different.
I’ve compiled a list of jokes that are so stealthy and sneaky, many of them I still didn’t get after multiple viewings of each season. Some are homages to other projects, some are just clever lines foreshadowing events to come, but all are equally awesome. I have twelve of my favorites below, but know that there are many, many others I could have posted, and a few I’m sure I’ll finally discover upon my next viewing. The show really is that deep.
If you spotted some of them already, congrats, you’re smarter than me, but if you claim to have gotten all of them on your first time through, sorry, but I just don’t think I believe you. And also, I know I’m breaking the rule of “if you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny,” but I don’t think that applies in this case.
1. Jumping the Shark (ep. Motherboy XXX)
The first of two great Fonz jokes on the list, this one features Henry Winkler literally jumping over the shark that bit Buster’s seal’s fin off. This is a reference to Winkler’s role in Happy Days, where he famously waterskied over a shark in a moment that would eventually symbolize any show’s transition from good to past its prime.
2. D’oh! (ep. Sword of Destiny)
I didn’t even realize this was Dan Castellaneta playing Michael’s doctor, so therefore I didn’t get this line:
Once I got in there, the appendix wasn’t so inflamed. D’oh.
Castellaneta of course voices Homer Simpson, hence the very sutble “d’oh” dropped in the scene.
3. High School (ep. The Immaculate Election)
This is one you probably caught the second time through, but I still love it. When Gob sees Steve Holt for the first time, he refers to him as looking like “some chick I banged in high school.” Of course, Gob ends up being Steve Holt’s father which is revealed later.
4. The F-bomb (ep. Afternoon Delight)
It was the first F-bomb on network TV that actually got away with it. The only thing was, it was split in half due to some clever editing, as the “fu” and the “king” were place with scenes in between them. This video shows them mashed together.
5. Arm Off (ep. Out on a Limb)
There are a million arm and hand jokes to choose from here, but this one, right before Buster goes into the ocean to lose his limb, is the one I could represent the best with a still image. ARM OFF.
6. Snoopy (ep. Good Grief!)
I didn’t notice this one once in my first five viewings of this episode. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment, where a beagle lays on top of a red dog house as George Michael walks home hanging his head set to music from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. The episode is also called “Good Grief!”
7. Hermano (ep. Beef Consomme)
Another “don’t blink” joke, you literally have to pause the scene like I did to catch this. When Ron Howard, the narrator, is defining “hermano” using the Spanish dictionary, we get to see the (mustachioed) Bluth brothers pictured as the word, brunette Lindsay as “beautiful” and best of all Tobias as “hermaphrodite.”
8. Drug Dog (ep. Meet the Veals)
This is another one you might not get to a few times through. At the very end of Meet the Veals, a drug dog tackles Buster because of his hook. Why? Uncle Oscar had been smoking weed with it at the very beginning of the episode.
9. Mr. Roboto (ep. The Ocean Walker)
The scene of Buster sinking his hook in the dashboard of the stair-car is hilarious enough in it’s own right, but what you may have missed is the reference to this 1999 VW commercial, which featured Tony Hale doing the robot without a hook.
10. Give Me Your Hair (ep. Visiting Ours)
I have a hard time believing this was a set up to a joke this early, but I don’t see any other way to read it. George Sr. asks George Michael for his hair, referencing the season finale where he wears a wig and pretends to be his twin brother Oscar. Later Oscar is imprisoned after George Sr. again dons the wig and shaves his brother bald. George Michael later says, “Yeah, I still don’t really get the hair joke.”
11. Surely Funke (ep. Justice is Blind)
This is one I didn’t get until I saw it spelled out above, Maeby’s crippled alter ego is not only “Shirley” but it’s “Surely.” Get it?
12. Heyyyy! (ep. Altar Egos)
Another great reference to Winkler as the Fonz, he does his classic mirror pose near the end of Altar Egos. There are a few Opie references to Ron Howard as well, but those are too hard to take screenshots of. “Now she had gone too far, and she had best watch her mouth.”