Original airdate December 7, 2003
Written by John Levenstein and Richard Rosenstock
Directed by Greg Mottola
Production Code #1AJD03
“Michael attempts to obtain documentation on the Bluth Company’s international accounts, but is obstructed by his father’s fiercely loyal assistant, Kitty. Equally cagey with this information is George Sr, who negotiates for a conjugal trailer visit after a horrfying incident leaves him shaken. George Michael also has a traumatic experience at the prison, as does Gob when he demands the warden legitimize his escape. Meanwhile, Maeby learns her parents are seeing a marriage counselor.”
NOTE: Deconstructing Arrested Development openly discusses spoilers when relevant (which can include episodes that come later in the series). Readers who have not seen the series in its entirety are advised to proceed at their own discretion.
Visiting Ours is a considerably dark episode of Arrested Development (at least by season 1’s standards); one that examines some of the ugliness at the core of the Bluth family. It’s also a rather integral episode of the series, introducing one of the most significant recurring characters, and providing multiple plot points that would prove important in the long run (not to mention several of Arrested Development’s most prominent running jokes originate here). And yet, it’s not often cited as a particular favorite among fans. If pressed, I’d likely cite Visiting Ours as one of the season 1’s weaker installments myself – which is by no means a sleight upon the episode, but rather, a testament to just how high the bar is for the series. It’s really only a lesser installment in the sense that some entries have to come in lower when ranking great things (and it should be said that the first season is Arrested Development’s most consistent by far, so “better” and “worse” are rather arbitrary concepts here).
Now that the dust has well and truly settled following the events of the Pilot, the Bluths are beginning to realize that their new arrangement could be far more long-term than most of them anticipated. For some, this means trying to find comfort in their new conditions (such as Lucille’s efforts to retain her status at the country club, or Lindsay and Tobias attempting couples’ therapy), while others – like Gob and George Michael – are merely looking to save face in wake of embarrassment. Michael, as always, remains the one member of the family keeping his eyes on the prize, as he tries to navigate the family though this bleak new chapter of their lives.
Unfortunately, Michael’s efforts to get the Bluth family – and company – back on track are hampered by George Sr’s “fiercely loyal” assistant (and, as we later learn, lover), Kitty. Ever the agent of chaos, Kitty would soon come to serve as an antagonist to Michael, and the Bluths in general. Michael may not have any qualms about exploiting Kitty’s obvious attraction to Gob, but the revelation that she’s been sleeping with George Sr. for 8 years still plays as something of a bombshell. Adultery is commonplace on television these days, but for a network comedy circa 2003, it was a different story. Coupled with the genuinely horrific prison baseball game, in which George Sr’s face is splattered with an innocent man’s blood (as a direct result of George Sr’s actions) – a joke later punctuated by the visual of a coroner’s van – Arrested Development makes it clear here that it won’t be pulling the same punches as its contemporaries.
Gob’s story here is ostensibly a sequel to the previous episode, Key Decisions. The warden is refusing to legitimize what Gob feels constitutes a successful illusion, and Gob seeks to change his mind (this wouldn’t be the only time this happened, either, as his storyline in season 2’s Spring Breakout – itself a follow-up to the events of a later season 1 episode, Missing Kitty – bears some strong similarities to this one). The prison “escape” is one of the funniest Gob subplots in the series, but the follow-up here just doesn’t produce the same laughs (save from perhaps his interactions with Kitty). Part of this may be that Gob’s violent fate in Key Decisions felt like comeuppance, whereas here, the warden is the one in the wrong – after all, this is a private citizen who’s merely written a strongly-worded letter. Admittedly, I believe this, coupled with the show veering dangerously close to “gross-out comedy” territory at some moments here, lead to this installment of Arrested Development feeling slightly “off” overall. It just doesn’t quite possess the same wit and subtlety that defined the series in its early days.
These comments certainly don’t apply to every aspect of the episode, however. After all, the scenes with Lindsay, Tobias and Dr. Gunty are about as “peak Arrested Development” as a Fünke marriage storyline gets. Portia de Rossi, David Cross and guest star Bob Odenkirk are all bringing their comedic A-game in those scenes, and it absolutely shows. It should also be noted that, despite being one of the show’s darker outings, Visiting Ours is by no means devoid of heart. George Michael and Maeby provide a look at all this madness through younger, more innocent eyes, and their bond is strengthened by the extent to which their discoveries shake them. The closing scene with Michael and his son is also genuinely moving, at least in a bittersweet way. And, while the show revels in its crass depictions of George Sr. and Lucille’s sex life, the fact that there is such genuine attraction between them makes their relationship both convincing and layered. It’s these small creative choices that do wonders to humanize what could have easily been an ensemble of purely unlikable and unrelatable characters.
The central theme of Visiting Ours is characters being confronted by their fears. Some incarnations of this are played for amusement, such as Lucille’s brush with “pool food,” or Gob being forced to watch his parents become intimate with each other. Others are more serious, like Maeby learning just how bad things have gotten between her parents, and Michael discovering why his parents are so unforthcoming about the international accounts. Not to mention the trauma George Michael and George Sr. each experience at Orange County Prison. So far, the show has largely been about the characters adapting to their new circumstances, but now, the reality of the situation is now setting in for everyone, and the Bluths (or, at least, the more clued-in members of the Bluth family) are beginning to realize just how dire things are.
The other theme of Visiting Ours is one the show explores frequently: Parents passing their flaws down to the next generation. The animalistic physical connection that George Sr. and Lucille share may not be present between Tobias and Lindsay, but the two marriages are comparable in their lack of stability. It’ll take more than just role-playing to fix either relationship. And Gob has inherited father’s his infidelity to the extent where the two have committed the act with the exact same person. But Michael can at least take some preventative action with his own son, following his newfound awareness of George Sr’s affair with Kitty: By ensuring George Michael doesn’t go through life harboring the same detrimental naivety towards his family.
KITTY: Your wife’s on line one.
NARRATOR: Michael’s wife had been dead for two years.
MICHAEL: My what?
NARRATOR: Kitty realized her mistake…
KITTY: I said “Your wife is on line one.”
NARRATOR: …But not immediately.
LUCILLE: Are you aware that we have been downgraded to being just pool members at the club now?
MICHAEL: Yeah, it’s a real shame what’s going on with this family. You’re stuck by the pool and dad’s getting picked last for softball.
Lucille’s reaction to the curly fries:
KITTY: Gob? I wish I would have known you were coming, I am a mess.
GOB: Don’t know if a call from me would’ve changed that.
KITTY: (laughs) Do you like my outfit?
GOB: Not as much as I like what’s underneath it.
GOB: No, I need your chair. Get up, I’ve got a letter to write.
Tobias made some… interesting choices with his headshots:
TOBIAS: Okay kids, mommy and daddy are going out for ice cream.
MAEBY: Can we come?
LINDSAY: …Sorry, it’s not for kids.
MAEBY: Come on, drive!
GEORGE MICHAEL: Well, what if they see us?
MAEBY: How are they going to see us?
GEORGE MICHAEL: Well, it says Bluth Company right on the side. Plus it’s a stairway. That’s gonna catch the eye.
“He’d been terrified of the very notion of prison since, as a young boy, he accidentally watched HBO’s Oz, mistaking it for the classic Judy Garland musical.”
NARRATOR: With Gob getting the information from Kitty, he would no longer have to visit prison and deal with his father.
MICHAEL: Hey buddy, I came home early. Wanna do something? Anything, anything at all.
GEORGE MICHAEL: I want to visit pop-pop in prison.
“Wait a second… wait, wait, wait. Take off your glasses.”
“Oh… wait, wait. Let down your hair.”
GOB: No, glasses on, hair back up. Let’s just get that hair right back up.
KITTY: Let me turn the lights off.
GOB: Yes, yes, please.
KITTY: How’s that? Is that better?
“Bravo. See, if I gave a performance that good, I’d have my own Alias-type show.”
“You know your mom. This isn’t her crowd, she’s very easily threatened. You remember the carjacker?”
GEORGE SR: I haven’t had sex in a month.
MICHAEL: …You know, you’ve been here two months.
GEORGE SR: It’s… hard to… gauge time.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I’ll bet.
MICHAEL: Hey mom, I went to go visit dad today. Quick question, how long does it take you to get out there?
LUCILLE: Oh, I’ve never been.
MICHAEL: Then why does he tell me that you’ve never been?!
MICHAEL: How can you ignore that man? You know, he’s having a hard time in there. He’s lonely.
LUCILLE: That’s what his children are for.
MICHAEL: Yeah? Well, you know, there are certain things that he can’t get from his children.
LUCILLE: If you’re going to say pride, Michael, you’re wrong. He is proud of his children.
MICHAEL:I wasn’t going to say pride, mom. Uh… listen. I… I… I think that… I think that you should… Oh, I can’t believe I’m going to say this. I think that you should visit him in an intimate… marital… trailer.
LUCILLE: Are you mad?
MICHAEL:You think I’m comfortable asking you to do this? I mean, he needs you, Mom.
LUCILLE: Did he say that? Did he say that he misses me? Does he need his wife’s embrace?
“He said some wonderful things.”
“Please, Tobias. When was the last time you looked at these?!”
GOB: Great news.
MICHAEL: Oh good, buddy, I could use it. I just came from convincing mom to have sex with dad.
GOB: What? God! What is wrong with you? That is disgusting!
MICHAEL: What’s wrong with you?
GOB: Oh, I’m sorry. It was just the thought of mom and dad together. I have a sense of propriety, all right?
MICHAEL: Fine. What’s your great news?
GOB: I *beep*ed Kitty.
MICHAEL: Oh, Gob! I just wanted you to get the information.
GOB: I got the information.
MICHAEL: You did, huh? About the international accounts?
GOB: …Oh, I see what you’re getting at. No, I didn’t get any information.
MICHAEL: That’s great. Good, good, good, Gob. Well, you just lost the touch lamp.
GOB: What? No, Mike! Come on!
MICHAEL: No. The deal’s off. Forget it. I’m going to use the touch lamp to set the mood in the conjugal trailer when dad’s nailing mom.
GOB: No! Don’t… Michael! You are filthy!
GEORGE MICHAEL: So you think they’ll get divorced?
MAEBY: I don’t care. I’m not saying I don’t care like kids who say they don’t care when they really do care, ’cause I really don’t care.
GEORGE MICHAEL: Right, I know. Who cares, right?
MAEBY: …I mean, I care.
GEORGE MICHAEL: How could you not?
“Sorry. Sometimes I just don’t know if it’s going to be a long hug or a short hug or, like, a middle or medium hug. It’s hard to tell sometimes, yeah. It was, it was good. That’s plenty for now. Okay. Hug’s gotta end sometime. Obviously.”
GEORGE SR: What the hell is your mother doing in here?
MICHAEL: What are you expecting?
GEORGE SR: Oh, I’ve done a bad thing. I’ve done a terrible thing.
MICHAEL: There’s someone else in that trailer— isn’t there?
GEORGE SR: I’ve done a repulsive thing.
MICHAEL: Wait, woah. It’s Kitty?!
GEORGE SR: This is easy. This is the easy one. No, I-I’ll go, I’ll go in there with Kitty. I’ll do, I’ll do my thing and then, then I’ll go and see your mother. This is a hard one.
MICHAEL: She’s your secretary!
GEORGE SR: See, you’re right. Family first.
“I’m delivering the strongly worded letter I wrote, lit by nothing but natural light.”
GOB: Glasses off. Glasses on. Hair up. Glasses off. Down, on. Have we done up, off?
KITTY: Oh Gob, this is so wrong.
GOB: And bright. Wrong… and, and bright.
And, after Gob closes the curtains and turns off the light…
“I don’t want to go to prison, dad. I don’t think I can take it. I mean, I know I act tough, but I…”
“And I decided that… I want to become an actor, too.”
When Lindsay gets up and leaves the therapy session following the role-playing exercise, a cameraman briefly gets in shot on the right-hand side of the frame:
This is the first episode of the show to be broadcast out of order, with Charity Drive instead airing as the fifth episode, and Visiting Ours being broadcast the following week. The continuity errors created by the episodes being switched around are minor, but the show definitely makes more sense if Charity Drive is seen after this episode, as it was intended. Firstly, Gob’s subplot plays much better if this episode immediately follows Key Decisions rather than there being a gap between them (likewise for the Buster/Lucille story arc, which picks up a real flow from Charity Drive onwards). Kitty is also given a much more thorough introduction here, making it a far more logical first appearance for her than her unexplained presence in Charity Drive’s opening scene. In addition to this, Charity Drive sees Michael gaining access to the family car, while here, he is still commuting via staircar and bicycle.
This would be the first of several continuity errors created by Fox airing the episodes out of order. They are restored to the intended order on the season 1 dvd, though unfortunately, Netflix arranges season 1 by the erroneous broadcast order. Between this, and Netflix burying the original cut of season 4, I’d personally say that physical media is the ideal way to watch this series.
To make matters even more confusing, this episode’s production code indicates it was made before Key Decisions, which absolutely needs to be seen first, as Gob’s storyline here is a direct follow-up to the events of that episode (as theorized in the previous deconstruction, they were likely filmed out of order due for scheduling purposes, such as cast availability).
This is the first episode to be directed by someone other than the Russo brothers, and the first of three episodes directed by Greg Mottola (the other two being Charity Drive and Storming the Castle). Mottola seems to alternate between television and cinema having directed films like Adventureland, The Daytrippers and Keeping Up with the Joneses, while his other tv directing credits include The Comeback, The Dangerous Book for Boys, Dave, The Newsroom and Undeclared (he also receives an executive producer for The Dangerous Book for Boys and Dave, and had a co-executive producer credit for season 1 of The Newsroom), in addition to some other projects, such as the made-for-tv HBO movie Clear History. He would wind up directing multiple Arrested Development cast members again in his feature film work, with Michael Cera and Jason Bateman respectively playing major parts in Superbad and Paul.
The title “Visiting Ours” is a pun on the phrase “visiting hours,” but also serves as a reference to Lucille referring to George Sr. as a bear. “Ours” is French for “bear.”
George Sr. would later be called “Old Big Bear” (and variations thereof) by Gob and Buster in the season 1 finale, Let Them Eat Cake, eventually using the expression himself in season 4’s Flight of the Phoenix.
This episode marks the first appearance of the brilliant Judy Greer as Kitty. Kitty is one of the show’s most significant recurring characters, appearing in a total of 13 episodes across all five seasons (though, like Barry Zuckerkorn, her role in season 3 is confined to a small cameo in the first episode). Judy Greer has a very long and varied acting resume with lots of notable entries; her film work alone has dozens and dozens of credits to her name, and runs the gamut from low-key critical darlings like Adaptation and The Descendants to big budget blockbusters like Ant-Man and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (and this is without going into other things she’s dabbled in, like writing and directing). While mostly known for playing smaller parts, she has had starring roles in the tv shows Kidding, Love & Money, Married and Miss Guided, in addition to voice-over roles in Archer, Glenn Martin, DDS, Let’s Go Luna! and various StoryBots productions (her role in Archer is particularly noteworthy – not only was she cast as an unhinged secretary largely due to her work in Arrested Development, but she stars alongside Jessica Walter in the main cast playing a considerably Lucille Bluth-esque character; Archer has multiple other links/references the series, too, with Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross both voicing recurring characters).
Bob Odenkirk also guest stars here as Dr. Gunty. It’s a bit of stunt casting, as him and David Cross had previously worked together on the cult HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David., which the pair created/wrote/starred in. Prior to this, he had written for The Ben Stiller Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live and Tenacious D, and he has also collaborated creatively with comedy teams like The Birthday Boys, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Tim and Eric across a variety of projects (also starring in most of the aforementioned things). These days, Odenkirk is now best known for the role of Saul Goodman (A.K.A. Jimmy McGill) in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, though he also plays a main character in Undone, and has had recurring roles in Fargo, How I Met Your Mother and The Larry Sanders Show, among many other things.
This episode also marks the final appearance of warden James Buck, portrayed by Rocky McMurray (from Staff Infection onwards, Orange County Prison would be overseen by Warden Stefan Gentles, played by James Lipton). In addition to this, the episode credits Tom Kiesche and Ski Carr, respectively, as the umpire and batter during the prison softball game, with Christian Lavery also making an uncredited appearance as a young George Michael. He would reprise the role twice; later this season in Not Without My Daughter (where he actually does receive a credit), and again in season 3’s Notapusy (where he does not). IMDB also attributes an uncredited appearance as “street vendor” to Oscar Garza, though this appears to be a mistake (possibly due to the episodes airing out of order) – he actually appears in Charity Drive.
George Sr’s investment in softball would later be explored further in season 2’s Switch Hitter.
Early in this episode, Gob is trying to cram an oversize desk into a tiny office, kicking off a highly specific character trait. Whenever Gob is in “business mode,” he likes to take charge by rearranging furniture, in ways that would become increasingly nonsensical throughout the show’s run.
He would later be seen repeatedly taking a sledgehammer to the wall of the Bluth Company offices so he could play pool (season 2’s The One Where Michael Leaves), and moving the conference table into an office so small the door no longer opens (season 5’s An Old Start).
Michael would once again try to pimp Gob out to Kitty in season 5’s Emotional Baggage.
Tobias’s cut-offs are finally acknowledged here – this time being worn under a towel, after we first glimpsed Tobias wearing them in the shower in Top Banana. However, it is’t until a few episodes from now, in In God We Trust, when we actually learn why he’s wearing them.
House of Pies is a real Los Angeles food chain.
The Wizard of Oz, Alias and Friends are all referenced for the first time here; they would all be referenced again over the course of the series (The Wizard of Oz is also referenced in Missing Kitty, Burning Love and S.O.B.s – with an additional nod to Judy Garland in The Fallout – while Alias is referenced again in Mr. F and Exit Strategy, and the first three episodes of season 2 all have allusions to Friends in their titles).
This episode also makes reference to the HBO series Oz, known for its unrelenting depictions of violence in the maximum-security prison system; there are over 100 deaths in the show’s 56 episode run, hence George Michael’s traumatic experience watching it as a small child (George Michael’s age is stated to be 14 in the next episode, set in late 2003 as Christmas happens in two episodes’ time; Oz premiered in July 1997, which could potentially make him as young as seven or eight in the flashback).
Ice cream sandwiches are seen again at the prison, as Michael grabs a few for himself, George Michael and George Sr. during their visit. Tobias and Lindsay also tell Maeby and George Michael that they’re heading out for ice cream when attending their therapy session.
This episode marks the first instance of George Michael experiencing something significantly disturbing/alarming, which would go on to be one of the show’s less frequent running jokes.
In some ways, it’s really just expanding on a gag that got its legs in Bringing Up Buster. While not quite cause for concern, George Michael was undoubtedly confused when Tobias tried to pair him and Steve Holt up as lovers in the school play. Here, he bears witness to several distressing things during his visit to prison.
It’s a gag that would come to produce some mixed results. The more extreme instances (such as George Michael’s traumatic adventure in Hand to God) don’t quite sit right with me personally, though it’s pretty much instant gold whenever George Michael has an unsettling experience at the hands of Tobias or Lindsay.
This episode also marks the beginning of another runner, being the first time a prisoner tries to escape prison by running up the stair car. It would happen again in season 3’s Prison Break-In (in addition to being used to cross the US/Mexico border in ¡Amigos!).
George Sr’s line “Daddy horny, Michael” would later be referenced again in season 3’s The Ocean Walker (“Rita corny, Michael”) and season 5’s Self-Deportation (“Daddy not horny”). Michael’s follow-up of “He said some wonderful things” also re-emerges in a similar joke in season 2’s The One Where Michael Leaves.
Gob’s line “I *beep*ed (name)” would become somewhat of a running gag. He repeats it Shock and Aww (twice), The One Where They Build a House and Motherboy XXX, with the narrator also saying it about Gob in Queen for a Day.
George Sr. utters the phrase “family first” here, shedding some light on why it’s been drilled so thoroughly into Michael.
This is also the first time Gob is forced to watch his parents have sex. It would happen again in season 2’s Meat the Veals, and the scene with him being detained against the trailer is later mirrored in season 3’s Prison Break-In (as is the conversation he has here with Michael, when he expresses his disgust at the thought – which, itself, comes up in quite a few additional episodes).
Dr. Gunty’s revelation – “I want to be an actor” – revelation mirrors that of Tobias from the first episode, complete with the same physical mannerisms, and the same excited inhaling noise at the end; the sound editors have actually reused the original audio of David Cross from the Pilot. This bit would later be replicated again with Lindsay (complete with the same audio sample once more) in Whistler’s Mother.
George Sr’s infamous line at the end of this episode’s “On the next” plants the seed for the big reveal in Let Them Eat Cake. However, it also sets up another delightfully weird little runner; the idea that light/medium/heavy is an official classification system for treason in the AD universe.
It wouldn’t be until the back half of season 1 when Iraq was mentioned directly, but even before the quoted live above, the show had already planted seeds suggesting the Bluths have done shady dealings overseas. In Top Banana, George Sr. and Lucille were being very guarded about the Bluth Company’s flight records, eventually enlisting a flamer to commit arson – an act that knowingly prevented Michael from obtaining the documents he needed. Here, they are being similarly guarded about the company’s international accounts – this time with the assistance of Kitty.
Buster does not appear in this episode, presumably still hiding from Lucille 2 following their encounter at the Desi awards in the previous episode (you can always tell a Milford man).
Visiting Ours has a total runtime of 21 minutes and 40 seconds, and is rated TV-PG-DLV.
When George Michael and Maeby are watching tv, we can hear a commercial for Klimpy’s, the restaurant Lucille and Lindsay would later visit in Public Relations.
If you look closely at Dr. Gunty’s office, it becomes clear that the marriage counselor has an obsession with dogs…
… And it doesn’t seem to be a particularly healthy one.
George Sr’s demand to George Michael – “Give pop-pop your hair” – comes across as a bout of madness here, but is actually foreshadowing the escape plan George Sr. would execute at the end of the season.
There is a deleted scene from early in the episode, re-establishing Tobias and Lindsay’s marital issues while Michael tells them to get help, and also briefly setting up the George Michael/Maeby subplot. It’s a largely unnecessary scene so it’s easy to see why it was the first to go, though it does have one fantastic exchange:
MAEBY: Why would anyone want to go to a jail? Isn’t that, like, the scariest place on Earth?
GEORGE MICHAEL: Apparently you’ve never been to a carnival.
(This, of course, ties in with a line that did make the final cut: “Scary? No. No, it’s the opposite of scary. It’s like a carnival. Without the half person on the skateboard that grabbed your knee to steady himself.”)