1. Arrested Development, Season Two
As most of you (should) know, Buster loses his hand in a seal attack about two-thirds of the way through Season Two and winds up becoming a monster with a hook. This whole storyline encapsulates many of the reasons why this show, and especially this season, is so fucking brilliant. First, it exemplifies just how much repeated viewings are rewarded. Not only does every episode build on the one before it, but the early episodes actually build on the later ones. So when Buster sees his old shaped-like-a-hand chair in the third episode (when he thinks he’s escaped to Mexico but is really in Santa Ana!), it’s funny enough on its own when he says, “I never thought I’d miss a hand so much.” But watching that episode again, knowing of the monster he’ll become? Brilliantly hilarious. Similarly, the “Afternoon Delight” episode from whence this Guide’s title comes features an amusing plotline where Buster becomes fascinated with one of those claw game machines and winds up getting himself a cute stuffed seal. The payoff in that episode comes when Buster uses a big construction machine clawy-type thinger to kinda/sorta help GOB out. But the real payoff comes with the foresight of his seal accident. Words can’t really do the genius of this type of comedy justice — if you’ve seen the show, you just know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, you’ll just have to take my word for it. But the layers within each episode, and within so many of the jokes, is something you rarely see in any other comedy, because it’s just too damn hard to pull off. But these writers were smart enough to nail it.
And if you’re not sold on why Season Two is the best, just dig this laundry list of some of the other gems from the season:
—The double “Afternoon Delight” duetsI mean, how can you argue with me about this. Come on!
—Maebe’s storyline of becoming a movie studio executive
—Martin Short’s first stomach-able role since 1987’s Innerspace
—GOB being Steve Holt!’s dad
—George Michael’s sad Charlie Brown walk (complete with a background Snoopy)
—The single best funeral ever put on television, complete with Lindsay’s slut shirt, GOB’s awful magic and Buster’s stripper army getup
—The repeated police beatings of George and Oscar
—Everyone’s ludicrous chicken dances
—Franklin the puppet
…and, need I mention:
-- Seth Freilich