Original airdate April 4, 2004
Written by Mitchell Hurwitz & Richard Rosenstock
Directed by Lee Shallat-Chemel
Production Code #1AJD18
“The Bluth Company accountant, Ira Gilligan, finds discrepancies in the books, just as Michael offers to throw a belated bachelor party for his recently-wed brother. Gob declines, hoping to pursue a divorce, until George Sr. convinces Gob to remain in the marriage and make him the best man instead, insisting Michael isn’t fun. While George Sr. plots a scheme around Gob’s bachelor party to silence Ira, Michael tries to prove that he does indeed know how to have fun, by taking George Michael on a fishing trip. Meanwhile, Tobias attempts to reunite the Fünke family band.”
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.
Two episodes earlier, in Altar Egos, Gob met a woman whose name is a mystery to him (and to us), and married her during a series of escalating dares. After remaining mostly dormant for Justice is Blind, it’s finally time for this storyline to take center stage in the form of a bachelor party, just as Tobias takes center stage in a more literal sense – though more on that later. At the same time, Best Man for the Gob establishes a new storyline, as attention is called to some missing funds by the Bluth Company’s accountant, who likes to be called by his first name Ira, but is known to everyone except Michael (including the narrator) by his surname, Gilligan. As he says, “If they ask me to testify, I’m not going to lie.” While the show initially presents this and Gob’s bachelor as separate plot points, they soon become so heavily intertwined that, together, they both make up the A plot. Beyond this, the episode really only has one subplot: That aforementioned Tobias storyline (and basically all things concerning the Fünkes, with George Michael also playing a notable role in the proceedings, essentially serving as a bridge between the A and B plots). The show typically juggles more stories than this, but Best Man for the Gob makes effective use of the extra time afforded by the lack of a C plot, packing in plenty of comedic moments while maintaining a laser focus on the narrative. Though this means a reduction in screentime for the characters who are less essential to the story, the end result is a briskly-paced and tightly plotted installment. To that end, Best Man for the Gob hits the ground running, taking advantage of the fact that there is already some narrative foundation laid down.
While Justice is Blind provided a brief recap of Gob’s sudden marriage by repeating the pair’s photo montage from Altar Egos, Best Man for the Gob relegates it to Michael simply acknowledging the marriage in a single sentence. On paper, this sounds like it might prevent Best Man for the Gob from really working as a stand-alone episode, but in truth, the specifics of how Gob came to be married are pretty much irrelevant here – one line is really all we need. The episode begins with a prime example of Arrested Development gradually building on a joke in a small space of time: There’s a problem with the air conditioning in the office, leaving the conference room ice cold and Michael’s office sweltering hot. As characters come in and out of the scene, they each complain about the temperature, ignoring Michael’s insistence that the other room is equally as bad. Conversations continue to unfold while we zip between the two sets (the stark contrast in lighting and ever-switching score both emphasizing the gag), with increasingly emphatic reactions coming from each new character who enters, culminating in the visual of a shirtless Tobias in Michael’s office. On paper, the temperature gag is very simple – but the show’s execution is masterful, deploying the cuts at an ever-increasing rate before pulling back and leaving the joke just long enough to slip our mind before Tobias appears. In truth, the joke’s primary function is decorative; to spruce up a scene that would otherwise be one big information dump, as the first three minutes of the episode feed us everything we need to know for the A and B plots.
In said opening scene, Michael offers to throw his older brother a belated bachelor party to celebrate his marriage, albeit not without his trademark snark (“You’ve been married two weeks now, it seems to be sticking, let’s pretend it’s a good thing”). Gob initially declines, saying he wants out of the marriage after speaking to George Sr. about it, and being told it was a stupid idea in the first place. These are sentiments that have already been expressed by Michael, of course, but while Gob can pretty much always be counted on to ignore Michael’s advice, the exact opposite is true when it comes to advice from George Sr. Indeed, Gob spends much of the episode blindly following his father’s increasingly unethical instructions, despite him actually being more overtly dismissive of his new marriage than Michael. George Sr. knows fully well that Gob’s craving for paternal validation is his Achilles’ heel, and he uses that against him here as he takes over the planning duties for Gob’s bachelor party, usurping Michael’s position as best man. But while Michael may not do everything George Sr. says, he’s no less immune to his influence. When Gob tells him of the change in plans, noting their dad is “a fun guy,” it’s clear that these words get to Michael. Not only does Michael spend the rest of the rest of the episode trying to prove that he is, but he repeatedly insists that his idea of fun is superior those attending the bachelor party, assuming the worst about it now that George Sr. is in charge.
As it turns out, those assumptions are completely valid. While Michael may have only offered to throw Gob a bachelor party as a polite formality, George Sr’s motivations aren’t just entirely selfish – they’re downright reprehensible. His goal is to neutralize Ira, and he decides the best way to do this is by inviting Ira to the event and convincing him he’s killed a stripper so he’ll flee the country. It’s a harebrained scheme with all the makings of a caper, complete with a narcoleptic stripper, a giant cake, a room full of fake guests, and buckets of fake blood. George Sr. is worried that Michael will ruin the plan if he attends, though really, it’s his other sons he should be concerned about; Gob fumbles his way through the con, foolishly placing his trust in the Hot Cops, despite their proven inability to follow any instructions that don’t involve taking their clothes off (one of them even botches the plan’s key detail – getting Ira drunk – by making him the designated driver), while Buster is nothing less than an agent of chaos. As we learn, the youngest Bluth brother is affected very intensely by juice, and when he discovers the fake blood doubles as the drink’s basic recipe, it isn’t long before he’s bouncing off the walls, boasting an elated grin, sporting juice stains around his mouth. It’s a hilarious visual, and it makes for one of the episode’s (and, indeed, Buster’s) most memorable moments, so it isn’t hard to see why the writers would continue to explore this character trait over the years to come. Here, though, it’s played as a minor running gag, right up until Buster fulfills his role in the narrative and sends the entire plan off the rails: Buster winds up accidentally startling the sleeping stripper and getting himself knocked out instead.
Michael, meanwhile, having gone from Gob’s best man to barely even being invited to his bachelor party, has decided to make plans of his own instead, dragging George Michael into a fishing trip that neither father nor son really want to attend. Michael dismisses the bachelor party as “fleeting fun,” insisting that they are creating lasting fun instead, but both are visibly dreading the notion of catching and gutting a fish. As the pair attempt to fall asleep with the sun shining bright and guests audibly playing in the pool, George Michael chimes in with “I mean, this is really fun and everything…” and Michael has to remind him that tomorrow is the fun part. We never actually glimpse father and son fishing at any point (which, admittedly, feels like a missed opportunity for a fun “On the next”) – nor is it even confirmed the two actually follow through with their plans. But really, that’s the point; the show is no more invested in their trip than Michael and George Michael themselves. Even before they get to the hotel, Michael’s attempts to talk the trip up to his son sound more like he’s trying to talk himself out of it: “We get to stay at a hotel, get up at 4:00am, slap on the ol’ seasick patch, we’re gonna get out there on the choppy ocean…” For Michael, taking the high road (or rather, being seen as taking the high road) is worth getting up in the early hours of the morning to feign enjoyment at something he actually finds unpleasant.
George Michael eventually talks Michael into attending the bachelor party by zeroing in on a major pain point: Michael’s pride. For all George Michael’s naivety, he makes an astute observation about his father. Indeed, Michael’s proclivity to put himself on a pedestal above others may very well be his biggest flaw, and often winds up creating more problems for him. This time, however, he chooses to swallow his pride, which proves a problem for his family instead, as George Sr’s plan hinges on the assumption that Michael won’t show up (and, indeed, Michael’s arrival proves to be the final nail in the plan’s coffin). Even George Michael seems to have inherited some of the family pride too, evincing uncharacteristic hubris around his natural ability as a percussionist, and attributing it to his “finely tuned internal clock” (it’s particularly amusing seeing some the various reactions George Michael gets as he equates punctuality to rhythm). True to the character, however, George Michael’s interest in music takes the form of one of the dorkiest instruments imaginable: Woodblock. George Michael even tries to force his way into the Fünke family band, but alas, proves no match for Tobias and his (totally unearned) pride. While Michael’s egotistical tendencies are more of a disadvantage to himself than anyone else, Tobias’s can often prove harmful to anyone in his orbit. Tobias may have reunited the family band with sincere intentions of unifying the family as a unit again, but once he steps into the completely meaningless position of band leader, it isn’t long before he’s actively berating the other members, and the rest of the family leaves the band. He’s also particularly nasty towards George Michael when he attempts to join in a song during rehearsal – and refuses to change his tune even after George Michael does what he can to help save Tobias’s cringe-worthy “gig.”
Despite Tobias’s total lack of self-awareness, he knows he’s one of the lowest men on the Bluth totem pole, which may be precisely why he becomes so nasty when given a modicum of power (and why he often targets those few people meeker than himself, like George Michael). We typically see a more spineless incarnation of the character – though regardless of how assertive Tobias is at any given moment, his lack of regard for others is pretty much unwaivering. Tobias may not be a Bluth in name or blood, but when it comes to his principles, he fits right in with the worst of them. So it’s no surprise that, while he was actively employed as a therapist, Tobias also had a side gig shilling for drug companies, in the form of his family band. Flashbacks even depict a child-aged Maeby delivering the disclaimer, “Zanotab may cause dry mouth, hair loss, an overly alert feeling, and in some cases may diminish your sex drive,” punctuated by a cheery “Zanotab!” from the other Fünkes. Tobias has had consistently great material throughout the entire first season, and this storyline is no exception, generating plenty of funny jokes as it links Tobias’s present-day performing ambitions to his former career. But perhaps what’s most amusing of all about the B plot is just how low the stakes are. In their prime, the family band performed corporate jingles to crowds of people mostly whacked out on supplements at highly dubious pharmaceutical conventions. Here, the big act break cliffhanger is a representative from the convention telling Tobias “If you don’t perform, we don’t validate,” complete with a dramatic music sting and a slow-motion visual of Tobias absorbing the situation.
Much like a real bachelor party, the women are largely sidelined in Best Man for the Gob, with the most important woman to the proceedings arguably being a stripper whose name we never learn. Lucille gets a few good lines at the family gathering, though after this scene, her only role in the episode is to dump Buster off on Gob. Lindsay and Maeby similarly vanish from the B plot after the second act, though that storyline is more about Tobias (and, arguably, even George Michael) than it is about the Fünke family. During their limited screentime, mother and daughter both get very minor throwaway subplots that play more like running gags. Maeby, for example, wants to keep the family band together so her parents won’t try to spend more time with her individually (as they did during a previous separation back in Boston, before the events of the Pilot), which is illustrated to us via an amusing on-screen graph. It’s a prime example of Arrested Development utilizing its unique presentation and format to deliver the sort of joke that just couldn’t be done in other shows. Lindsay, meanwhile, finds herself at the end of her rope, and just as Tobias tries to recreate his happiest moments from the mid-90s, so too does she, by medicating herself on the very drugs the family band is shilling. It’s a ripe premise that’s left largely unexplored here, instead being played for a few tossed-off laughs (though the show revisits – and expands on – this idea next season, in Switch Hitter).
There’s one other woman who proves crucial to the narrative, and that is Gob’s wife. She’s actually the other major bridge between the A and B plots alongside George Michael, for as it turns out, she was one of those whacked-out fans of Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution in the 90s. After some initial flirting with Tobias at her welcome party, she eventually comes to his rescue alongside George Michael. At the end of the episode, she announces she’s leaving Gob for his brother – prompting Gob to punch Michael in the face – after which, she clarifies that she actually means Tobias. Gob’s wife returns in the next episode, for one final scene to send off the character (until her return in season 2), but the story arc of Gob’s marriage is largely concluded here with this scene, as is a much larger story arc: The Gob/Marta/Michael love triangle, which started all the way back in Key Decisions, before Beef Consommé eventually set Gob on a quest for revenge (fueling most of his actions in Shock and Aww). This episode makes clear in the opening scene that Gob is still harboring resentment; when Michael refuses Gob’s request to break up his relationship, he retorts with “Why not? You did with me and Marta. You had no problem with that, guy.” Michael even tries to honor said request, only to discover that Gob has already poisoned his new wife against him (“It’s a good thing you’re not staying married to this girl. You’ve got her hating me— at least your version of me, which is actually you”). But alas, this punch in the face seems to be the final thing that settles the score between the brothers, at least as far as Marta goes.
Moments before the punch, however, the brothers did manage to find genuine unity in each other (there are also parallels here with how Tobias has a family member come to his aid in a time of need, though he hilariously throws it back in their face instead). It’s a genuinely cathartic moment when Gob finally turns off George Sr’s tv monitor, at last muting the voice that’s been commanding him all along. It’s the episode’s central character arc, seeing Gob finally stand up to George Sr after he progressively asks more and more of his eldest son with each scene (at the end of act 1, he’s seized control of the bachelor party but Gob still believes it to be a legitimate event, and by the end of act 2, fake blood is being lugged around the hotel lobby). As Gob laments, “I’m a complete failure, I can’t even fake the death of a stripper,” Michael rightfully points out to him that this is not a bad thing. George Sr. may have had more accomplishments to his name when he was Gob’s age than Gob does now, but his empire was built on corruption, and he applies the same unprincipled methodology to his parenting, manipulating his children even from behind bars. As Michael observes, the problem lies with just who Gob has chosen as a role model – a conman who has spent Gob’s life actively undermining his confidence in himself. This wouldn’t be the last time Michael comforts Gob by simply pointing out they’re brothers, but it means a lot in the context of the wider Bluth family and the siblings’ upbringing; amidst all the dysfunction, they at least have each other – and Michael may very well be the only person in Gob’s life who actually has his back (sometimes, at least).
Despite certain characters only having brief moments to shine, Best Man for the Gob is prototypical Arrested Development in many ways. Many story beats/formulas here will be familiar to regular viewers by now; we’ve seen characters try to pull elaborate cons before (and, more specifically, George Sr. tasking Gob with his dirty work), and the character relationships we explore have already provided plenty of story fodder so far. The Michael/Gob/George Sr. dynamic in particular has propelled many a narrative this season, and this is the last episode to really highlight it before we move into the home stretch. The only signature element of Arrested Development that’s absent would be the misunderstandings, as the plot is driven almost entirely by the Bluths scheming, though one trademark is accounted for: Improbable coincidences. When the bachelor party, the fishing trip and the wellness convention places almost everyone at the same hotel, no one even remarks on the unlikeliness of it all. Rather than playing narrative convolution for laughs, however, this creative choice is more for practical purposes, placing everyone in close proximity so as to streamline the final act – another example of how this episode is lean by design. While it ties up some loose ends as the season shifts into its endgame, it also plays just fine without the broader context of what surrounds it. Best Man for the Gob is the kind of episode one could highlight in, say, a sit-com scriptwriting class; there’s little to fault with its structure (the second act runs a few minutes shorter than the other two, though everything feels like it’s exactly as long as it needs to be), and the story is told at a consistent pace from start to finish – as are the jokes. While it isn’t commonly singled out as a fan favorite, Best Man for the Gob is nonetheless one of season 1’s strongest installments, showcasing exactly what makes these characters so entertaining while telling a funny, well-crafted story that – like a motherboy on a juice binge – leaves you craving more.
GOB: You know what? Lie to her. Tell her that I’m… insensitive and unreliable.
MICHAEL: Maybe something about how you can never confront people and you need someone else to clean up your messes.
GOB: See, that’s great, and that’s just off the top of your head.
TOBIAS: I guess what I’m saying is… I wanna reunite the band.
MICHAEL: Oh no.
NARRATOR: “Oh no” was right.
TOBIAS: I thought maybe you could talk Lindsay into joining me up on stage.
MICHAEL: Yeah, why don’t you ask her?
TOBIAS: Oh, I would, but she doesn’t take me seriously.
George Sr. claims he’s never been told Ira doesn’t like to be called Gilligan:
GEORGE SR: Gilligan has promised me that all this money will be safe in I.R.A.s.
IRA GILLIGAN: It’s Ira, sir.
GEOGRE SR: Oh, I’m sorry, Gilligan. Will be safe in Iras.
(While I have no inside information to confirm as such, I’d say there’s a very good chance the character was given the first name “Ira” specifically for this joke)
“No sugar for you. You just get more awful.”
MICHAEL: He said it was the most fun your family’s ever had.
LINDSAY: Yeah, well, I was whacked on Zanotab the entire time.
MICHAEL: I thought Zanotab was supposed to make everything a little bit better?
LINDSAY: For 15 minutes, then it burns when you pee and your marriage goes to hell.
GEORGE MICHAEL: So, uh, y’know, if you want me on woodblock, I- I- I can keep perfect time. Some call me “The Human Metronome.” You notice how I’m always on time? I’m never late for things.
MAEBY: Yeah, but I think punctuality is slightly different from rhythm.
GEORGE MICHAEL: No it’s not! No, it’s the exact same thing. It’s knowing how long things take.
MAEBY: Look, I’m just doing this because if my parents split up, it’s a lot more work for me… I know. They split up once in Boston. When they get along, I get tons more alone time. When they don’t, guess who they start spending all their time with? Me.
“…We’ve been talking here for 28 seconds, just so you know.”
Tobias helps himself to an hors d’oeuvre:
NARRATOR: Michael, as per Gob’s request, tried to convince his wife that Gob was unreliable.
MICHAEL: So, Gob is late. But I guess that’s who you married. He’s probably out trying to do something very important.
GOB’S WIFE: Are you hitting on me? Gob said that would happen.
MICHAEL: You’re making dad your best man? That’s great. I guess being your brother and solving all your problems for you doesn’t qualify me as your best man.
GOB: Hey, if he wants to support me, I’m not going to tell him to go to hell. Do- don’t worry, you’re still…
MICHAEL: What, invited?
GOB: No, I was gonna say you’re still the guy I want solving my problems. But, yeah, let me talk to dad about that invite situation.
GOB: You know, I really think that you’re going to like this woman.
GEORGE SR: Well, she’s costing me enough, but she’s, oh, she’s a hell of a stripper.
GOB: No, I mean my wife.
GEORGE SR: Oh, well I… I doubt that very much.
“Okay, once more from the bridge… (singing) Because I have a brother and a mother and a lover and a wife and a daughter– WHAT IS THAT NOISE?!”
“We don’t need the woodblock.”
TOBIAS: (sees Lindsay swallow a pill as she leaves the room) What is that in your mouth? Is that a Euphorazine? Lindsay, spit it out. That’s not real happiness.
LINDSAY: Well, it’s better than what we’ve got now!
TOBIAS: (chasing after Lindsay) Lindsay, spit it out!
(After Lindsay and Tobias exit the scene, they can still be heard arguing in the background of Michael and George Michael’s subsequent exchange – with Lindsay yelling “It’s already down. Get your finger out of my throat, it’s down!”)
MICHAEL: I just booked us a little fishing trip.
GEORGE MICHAEL: Why, what did I do?
The Bluth boys contemplate having fun:
LUCILLE: Buster’s your brother and I’m not going to leave him home alone with all this J-U-I-C-E around.
BUSTER: I can spell, mom. You spelled “juice.”
LUCILLE: Oh, you’re so brilliant. Let’s see you find it.
LUCILLE: I’m going to Annyong’s soccer award ceremony, and-
LUCILLE: …And I don’t need the other soccer moms knowing how old my first batch of kids are.
GOB: Yeah, I think that they’re going to know that Annyong’s not your-
GOB: Would somebody please tell this insufferable child to… God!
“We have unlimited juice? (laughs) This party is going to be off the hook!”
MAEBY: (reading the side effects to Euphorazine) “Delayed irritability”? What do they mean by “delayed”?
LINDSAY: It means it comes later!!
“Look at us, we’re dressed like we’re in the ’60s. It’s the 21st century, we should be dressing like it’s the ’80s.”
GEORGE MICHAEL: The- the problem I’m having is, uh… I have a pretty finely tuned internal clock…
GEORGE MICHAEL: Which is- it’s actually why I’m such a good natural percussionist…
“…And, um… I’m just… worried that I’m not gonna be able to fall asleep for another two hours and 45 minutes.”
GEORGE MICHAEL: It’s just, I don’t know when I’m gonna get another chance like this. You know, to- to be there for family… I’d hate to miss it because I was too proud.
MICHAEL: Right. (has a moment of contemplation, then gets out of bed) …Wait a minute. “Too proud”? What does this have to do with “too proud”?
GEORGE MICHAEL: Actually that part was kind of just for you. I was just worried the whole thing wasn’t gonna land unless I included the pride part.
“Butch, guys. I want it butch.”
“Hey, what the hell happened to the blood?!”
“I love juice!”
“This next number is the only ballad that The Solution ever attempted, and I must say, I feel a bit like a Mary without a Peter and a Paul, but, uh, I suppose it’s worth a shot… (singing) There’s no ‘I’ in Teamocil, at least not where you’d think…”
George Michael finally gets to showcase his musical skills on stage:
GOB: Michael, I thought you weren’t coming? I thought he wasn’t coming…
MICHAEL: Well, I wasn’t going to, but he’s my brother and I’m here to support him. Like all these, uh… (scans the room) hot men, and Ira.
Gob attempts to execute the plan:
GOB: She’s died- She’s dead. It was Gilligan.
IRA GILLIGAN: What?!
GOB: Gilligan killed the skipper… stripper!
IRA GILLIGAN: I didn’t kill any stripper.
GOB: You’re drunk, you don’t remember…
GEORGE SR: You’re pulling the ripcord, are you nuts?!
GOB: Ira, take my honeymoon tickets. Get out of the country, save yourself!
IRA GILLIGAN: I’m not drunk, Bix made me the designated driver.
(George Sr’s line is a particular highlight here, and may very well be the biggest laugh of the episode for me)
NARRATOR: Just then, the stripper woke up and saw Buster with what appeared to be blood around his mouth and thought she killed him for groping her.
STRIPPER: Not again!
GOB’S WIFE: Gob, I want out. I’m in love with your brother…
GOB: What? (turns to Michael) You did it again, you son of a bitch!
MICHAEL: No, no, she…
“…In-law. Tobias. Sorry, I should have finished that thought.”
While this is not really a complaint about Best Man for the Gob as an episode itself, it unfortunately has the same issue as Storming the Castle, where the dvds leave in some of Fox’s on-screen additions from the broadcast version of this episode:
Unlike Storming the Castle, it’s just the “available in widescreen” banner and not the episode rating as well, but again, this appears to be exclusive to the region 1 version of the dvd.
There are a couple of continuity errors in the scene when everyone arrives at the hotel lobby – specifically in regards to the tv monitor Gob is wheeling around. The tv is positioned so that the screen is facing everyone, and remains as such right up to Buster’s line, “Even dad’s coming – via satellite.” In the very next shot, however, the tv screen is facing away from them instead:
After this, the tv is out of frame for several shots, before returning to its original orientation when Gob says the fake blood is actually juice.
The episode’s title serves is a play on the phrase “best man for the job.” It’s a mentality that several characters possess in this episode, ie. Tobias attempting to carry the family band solo, or Michael believing himself to be the superior best man to George Sr. (a storyline the title references directly in its more literal reading).
This episode’s cast features Michael Hitchcock as Ira Gilligan. His long list of acting credits include Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Glee and MADtv – also serving as a writer/producer on these three shows – in addition to recurring roles on Trial & Error and United States of Tara. He regularly features in Christopher Guest’s acclaimed mockumentaries, making him the third cast member from said ensemble to star in Arrested Development (the others being John Michael Higgins as Wayne Jarvis, and Jane Lynch as Cindi Lightballoon). Lauren Bowles also stars as the other notable one-off character, the narcoleptic stripper. Her acting resume is similarly prolific, having starring roles in the short-lived series The Messenger and Watching Ellie, in addition to recurring roles on How to Get Away with Murder, Seinfeld, True Blood and Veep; however, it really can’t be overstated what extensive filmographies each of these one-time cast members have.
In addition to this, Amy Poehler makes her third appearance as Gob’s unnamed wife, though this time she is credited as “Wife of Gob,” after having received the credit “Gob’s wife” in Altar Egos and Justice is Blind. Recurring cast members Justin Lee (Annyong) and BW Gonzalez (Lupe) also show up, but Annyong only gets three lines – all of which are his name – while Lupe has no dialogue at all. Other credited cast members include Andrew Hill Newman as the drug rep who gives Tobias the updated list of Euphorazine side effects, Luciano Giancarlo as Bix the Hot Cop, Dan Horton as Marcus, another Hot Cop (previously seen in Pier Pressure, where he was credited simply as Hot Cop #1), while Danielle Cipolla makes her first appearance as a young Maeby – a role she would reprise in Not Without My Daughter and Switch Hitter. IMDB also lists an uncredited appearance from Jason Pierce as one of the other Hot Cops.
Early in the episode, Gob makes reference to Michael breaking up him and Marta – a callback to the events of Beef Consommé. It’s one of several allusions to this episode, as Gob then takes the preemptive measure of poisoning his wife against Michael before they meet. Later, Gob addresses Michael as “hermano” as the brothers share an earnest moment of unity, having seemingly committed the definition of the word to memory after learning in Beef Consommé that it was Spanish for “brother.” This is, until his wife announces that she’s leaving him and has fallen for his brother (-in-law), and Gob says “You did it again” as he punches Michael in the face.
The callbacks to Beef Consommé continue into the “On the next,” when Gob says to Buster, “On the plus side, you got punched in the face.” This is a reference to the episode’s running gag of Buster trying to get punched in the face for the first time (and ultimately failing cross it off his bucket list).
As the narrator explains, Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution was underwritten by the Natural Life Food Company, a division of ChemGrow, an Allyn-Crane Acquisition, and part of the Squimm Group. In the midst of these increasingly iffy-sounding medical organizations is “Allyn-Crane,” the surname of a fan who sent cookies to the writers. As a thank you, they included her name in the show and sent her back a copy of this episode’s script.
Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution is mentioned again in season 2’s Switch Hitter, where we see new flashback footage of the band, and learn why they originally stopped performing: The FDA shut them down.
Teamocil also returns in Switch Hitter, in quite a significant capacity, as Lindsay takes the supplement for the entire duration of the episode, suffering a slew of side effects as a result (though the show does not address Teamocil’s return to market after this episode established its discontinuation).
There are a few references to the 1960s sit-com Gilligan’s Island throughout this episode, all of which pertain to the character of Ira Gilligan. Early in the episode, during the Gilligan/George Sr. flashbacks, George Sr. yells “Gilligan!” in the same manner as the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. Similarly, in the episode’s final act, Gob accidentally says “Gilligan killed the Skipper” before correcting it to “stripper.” The joke finally pays off in the “On the next,” where “Gilligan fulfills his destiny” (as the narrator puts it). We then see he has not only absconded to an island with said stripper, but he is also dressed like Gilligan’s Island‘s titular character:
The Gilligan’s Island seed was first planted in Staff Infection, where figurines of Gilligan and the Skipper could be seen on Warden Gentles’ desk.
When the narrator says “And Michael tried to convince Lindsay to rejoin Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution,” his reading of the band name is synchronized with the visual of Michael uttering the same phrase. It would become a frequently-deployed editing trick as Arrested Development continued, with the narrator’s dialogue syncing up precisely with the lip movements of the on-screen characters at numerous points throughout the series (particularly during moments of recapping).
As mentioned earlier, this episode establishes one of Buster’s most distinct character traits: His strange relationship with juice. Buster is generally forbidden from drinking juice, which is like a drug to him – as we see here, the sugar high makes him completely lose self-control, often sending him on rampages he has no recollection of upon coming to. Lucille seems to reserve it specifically for special occasions, ie. demanding juice for Buster in season 2’s Hand to God following his horrific seal accident, or offering a child-aged Buster all the juice he can drink after almost drowning in Season 5’s Courting Disasters. Both instances lead to the typically gentle Buster physically attacking a family member.
These aren’t the only times Buster becomes violent after overdosing on juice, either – the most significant occurrence being his juice-fueled rampage during Cinco de Cuatro, in season 4’s Off the Hook (the same episode contains multiple other references to Buster and juice, and gives us a glimpse at Buster experiencing a “juice hangover”), with juice ultimately proving a very important plot point in Buster’s story arc for the Netflix run. Buster’s love of juice is also seen/mentioned in Meat the Veals, Spring Breakout, Mr. F, Prison Break-In, Chain Migration and The Fallout.
George Michael’s attachment to woodblock also proves important to Arrested Development lore over time (and similarly, plays an unexpectedly significant role in his character arc across the fourth and fifth seasons). Season 4’s It Gets Better, in particular, further explores George Michael’s love of the woodblock and his ambitions as a percussionist (with him once again insisting that this is the product of his finely-tuned internal clock). The episode even provides an origin story for George Michael’s self-proclaimed abilities, in the form of Babytock!, a rhythmic developmental tool for infants rebranded from unsold Cornballers (see season 1’s Bringing Up Buster).
The Hot Cops return for the first time here, having been introduced in Pier Pressure (where it was established Gob used to work for the male stripping agency). This time, Gob hires them to pose as guests at the bachelor party – presumably due to his lack of real friends, which the show would delve deeper into next season with ¡Amigos!.
Best Man for the Gob has a total runtime of 21 minutes and 55 seconds, and is rated TV-PG-LV.
Gob continues to wear garish sweaters throughout this episode. It’s a continuation of a running gag that started early in the previous episode, Justice is Blind, when Gob stated, “The wife likes me in bright sweaters” (which was followed by a flashback where she got upset at Gob for not wearing the sweater she bought him).
In the opening scene, Michael observes that Gob has been married for two weeks now – a subtle nod to the fact that Gob got married two episodes earlier (and thus, would have aired two weeks prior, had Fox broadcast the episodes in the order intended).
Tobias can be seen sporting a woman’s coat during his short segment in the boardroom:
If you look closely, the same coat is seen earlier on a female employee at the Bluth Company in the opening moments of the episode, as she hands Michael files during his meeting with Ira.
The seeds for Gilligan’s ultimate betrayal are sewn early on in the episode: In the opening scene, Gob suggests Gilligan is untrustworthy (“Woah, woah, woah! You’re asking Gilligan not to lie?”). Shortly thereafter, George Sr. outright says Gilligan might have stolen the missing money. The subsequent flashbacks of Gilligan’s interactions with George Sr. demonstrate enough shoddy treatment from his employers to establish motivation to screw them over.
The twist also adds another layer of comedy to George Sr’s scheme, as the final step in his plan was to make people think Ira took the money. Not only did this wind up being the truth, but even if George Sr’s plan had been successful, the Bluths still would have screwed themselves out of the missing funds.
There are actually two hidden jokes in this shot:
Firstly, Lupe is wearing another Bluth hand-me-down, in a running joke dating back to In God We Trust. While this one is not holiday themed, the top clearly belonged to Buster, whose studies in cartography were highlighted during his introductory scene in the Pilot. In addition to this, there’s another visual gag with Buster, as he can be seen hiding in the dining room behind a pillar, just to the left of Lucille. You can always tell a Milford man.
Lucille’s exchange with Gob’s wife initially plays as Lucille forgetting about her daughter – much like Lindsay herself does with Maeby – but it’s actually our first major hint that Lindsay is adopted. We wouldn’t come to learn this until the season 3 finale (and the final episode of the show’s broadcast run on Fox), Development Arrested.
When Buster asks where Annyong got his juicebox, Lucille tells Buster “Those are for his soccer team.” Later in the episode, she sends Buster off to Gob’s bachelor party while she attends a soccer award ceremony. Annyong’s soccer team becomes a plot point two episodes down the line in Not Without My Daughter.
When George Michael says he and Maeby have been talking for 28 seconds, he isn’t too far off; the line is delivered exactly 29 seconds into their exchange.
Buster has his first utterance of the phrase “off the hook” here. In addition to becoming something of a catch phrase (not one deployed with particular frequency, though it is used as the title for the Buster-centered episode in season 4), it’s also one of the earliest hints the show planted about the eventual fate of Buster’s left hand; something that wouldn’t pay off until season 2’s Hand to God.
There’s a slew of easy-to-miss visual gags scattered throughout the wellness convention, the first being a brief glimpse of something called the “Magnet Suit” (which was actually intended to set up a joke in the deleted scenes):
The lower part of this stand is visible when Maeby and Lindsay leave the family band, with another sign for the Magnet Suit promising the following effects: “Soothes aching muscles, adjusts electromagnetic field, unifies neurotransmitter activity, increases circulation, improves posture, looks great.” Next to the stage during this same scene, another sign sports logos for Placebojolt, Erector, SwallowGold, Adrenoblast, Groupug, The Magnet Suit, Euphorazine, Bond, The Magnot Suit, and Dog Tease. Other events scheduled at the wellness convention include “Erector Seminar” and “Magnet or Magnot,” furthering the apparent competition between the Magnet Suit and the Magnot Suit.
Michael and George Michael’s sleeping arrangement at the hotel mirrors that of their first scene together in the Pilot.
The pair would would find themselves sleeping side-by-side again in season 3’s The Cabin Show and Development Arrested.
Gob casually says “I might be a father,” foreshadowing the eventual revelation that Steve Holt is his son (a fact that we – and Steve – learn in season 2’s The Immaculate Election, but Gob wouldn’t discover until the season 3 premiere, The Cabin Show).
Best Man for the Gob has the honor of being the last season 1 episode to contain deleted scenes! The first takes place during the episode’s second act. Michael calls Ira to further investigate the missing funds, while a repair man with a visible “Blendin” logo on his back appears to be fixing the air conditioner (as previously seen in Shock and Aww, Staff Infection and Altar Egos, Blendin is a fake business name used across a variety of different fronts by undercover feds):
MICHAEL: …Well, I’m getting the air conditioning unit fixed right now, Ira, so we can work tomorrow night, okay? (pauses) You got invited to the bachelor party? (pauses) Yes, of course I got invited, but I’ve got, uh, butter things to do. Gonna go out and have some real fun. (pauses) Alright, bye.
REPAIR MAN: (worried his cover has been blown) There’s your problem! (nervously chuckles)
MICHAEL: (paying no attention) Great. Thank you.
There’s a minor extension of the scene with Tobias performing solo on-stage. Set up with the narration “…And Tobias was struggling to keep the audience interested in his clapping and backup singing,” we see Tobias doing just that, finishing up a song for Adrenoblast (one of the products on the sign by the stage). As he sings the closing line of song – “…Blast!” – a man walks by the stage wearing the Magnet Suit (also seen earlier in the episode), and Tobias’s tambourine flies off the stage and sticks to it:
From there, a slightly different take can be seen of Tobias setting up the Teamocil ballad. In fact, we still get a brief glimpse of the man in the Magnet Suit hobbling off-screen when we cut to this line in the finished product:
It’s possible this scene was only trimmed for time, though it’s perhaps for best that the magnet gag was left on the cutting room floor. While it’s very funny on paper, the execution ultimately leaves a lot to be desired; the effect of the tambourine flying off the chair is far from convincing, and the staging/framing of the joke does it no favors. It’s certainly in Arrested Development’s wheelhouse to call back to an easy-to-miss visual gag from earlier in the episode, but doing so in such an overtly broad and cartoony form tends to illicit more of a “Huh?” than a “Hah!” Still, points for effort, at least – conceptually speaking, the joke is nothing if not audacious.
4 thoughts on “Season 1, Episode 19: Best Man for the Gob”
That off-key string pluck when Tobias and family say “Zantob!” is perfectly timed for comedy – much like George Michael later trying to bring in his woodblock skills, right before the cut away. Gob’s hasty backpedaling to try and thank George Sr., for the honeymoon tickets when he called on not having thanked dad for them is just great. Michael in bed trying to go to sleep to get up at 4 am while lights bleeds past the curtain and shines onto his face was great too, I wonder how hard they may have had to work to set that lighting up? I loved the way Michael quickly understood what was going on after everyone left the party and George Sr. played dumb with “Gob, you were trying to set up Ira? What were you thinking?!”
Your write-ups are always lasting fun to read!
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Another classic episode! The Gilligan’s Island references mostly went over my head during viewing, I still haven’t watched an episode of that series. The way the bachelor party falls apart though is a scene that always gets me to crack up. Also I didn’t immediately recognize Gilligan as part of Guest’s regular ensemble til a rewatch!
Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution should have made an appearance on the shows soundtrack!
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“You’re pulling the ripcord, are you nuts?!” still makes me laugh every damn time after all these rewatches.
I’ve only just started making my way through Christopher Guest’s work recently (I saw This is Spın̈al Tap a while ago, but nothing actually directed by Guest himself until last year). There were a lot of “Hey, it’s X!” moments for the first couple I watched, haha. I think Best in Show’s probably made me laugh the hardest out of all of them (granted, a lot of that was Fred Willard – R.I.P.), but they’ve all been enjoyable so far. I’m a little ashamed of how long it’s taken me!
Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution actually did make an appearance on the official soundtrack! Two thirds of the band, anyway – track 39 “Teamocil” features guest vocals from David Cross and Portia de Rossi.
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Best in Show is definitely my favorite! There’s a great oral history of the film on the Ringer that went up yesterday that features some blurbs from Willard about the film (he was interviewed for it shortly before his death). Worth a read, gives great insight into what working on that movie was like (spoiler, sounds pretty hilarious)
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