Okay, kids. Mommy and Daddy are going out for ice cream. Sorry, it’s not for kids. However, you’ll be happy to know I’ve written a strongly worded letter lit by nothing but natural light.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 5: Visiting Ours
Written by John Levenstein & Richard Rosenstock
Directed by Greg Mottola
Original airdate December 7, 2003
Going through the series again for the first time in years, Visiting Ours is an episode I both was and wasn’t excited about. I was looking forward to it because it’s one of the episodes with a bit of a lower rewatch count for me, meaning I was more likely to have forgotten parts of it, but at the same time, it’s also not an episode I’m enormously fond of (it’s probably my least favourite of the first disc on the season 1 dvd). I remembered it being a little off-puttingly dark and making me laugh somewhat less than the show’s usual standard. While those statements aren’t entirely inaccurate, I was still very pleasantly surprised by just how damn funny this episode was, and indeed, just how many classic moments even a less memorable episode like this is; bits like “glasses on, hair up” and Tobias and Lindsay’s visit to a marriage counselor still undoubtedly stick in the mind of any ADdict. Arrested Development just isn’t capable of producing a bad episode, period.
Visiting Ours is indeed a darker installment of the show, particularly for season 1, and does a great job at exposing the ugliness at the core of the Bluth family, whose dynamic is shaken up in this episode by the introduction of George Sr’s “fiercely loyal” assistant Kitty (more on her in the episode notes). Michael has no qualms about exploiting her obvious attraction to Gob – and bribing Gob with office supplies in the process – but the revelation that George Sr. is cheating on Lucille with Kitty (and, by extension, Gob also cheats on Marta with her), is certainly a bit of a bombshell. Adultery may be the norm on most “gritty” prestige dramas these days, but it’s practically unheard of for a 20 minute network sit-com. Coupled with the genuinely horrifying prison baseball game in which AN INNOCENT MAN’S BLOOD IS SPLATTERED ON GEORGE SR’S FACE, and then punctuated later by the image of a coroner’s van at the prison, Arrested Development makes it abundantly clear here that it’s not going to pull the same punches as its contemporaries.
This isn’t to say the episode is devoid of heart. George Michael and Maeby provide a look at the madness through much younger eyes, and their bond is unified by the extent to which their discoveries shake them. And the show’s exploration of George Sr. and Lucille’s sex life is certainly a revelation as well – one thing I’ve always enjoyed about the show is Lucille and George Sr’s genuine attraction to one another. Infidelity aside, their sex life may be one of the few things on the show resembling a healthy relationship, and it’s little details like this that do wonders to humanise what could have easily been an ensemble of completely unlikable characters.
(“…You should see the looks I’m getting.”)
Ultimately, Visiting Ours is about the characters being confronted with their fears. George Sr. learns just how brutal prison can truly be, George Michael has an equally traumatic prison experience as a result, Maeby learns the true extent that her parents’ relationship is falling apart, Gob is forced to witness his parents having sex, and Michael learns that the family’s legal situation is far worse than he could’ve possibly imagined. In a surprisingly dark episode, it’s quite telling that the “heartwarming moment of family bonding” is Michael telling George Michael just how guilty his Pop-Pop is – which, in itself, is another unpleasant encounter with reality – Michael may not know the ins and outs of George Sr’s shady dealings yet, but learning of his father’s adultery is more than enough to permanently sully the way he sees him. We’re just five episodes in and already, every character is being shaken to their very core.
MY FAVOURITE JOKES/MOMENTS
* Jessica Walter is on fire during the scene with Lucille’s poolside phone call, but I think her reaction to the curly fries might be my favourite:
* KITTY: 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.
(I love how much of an asshole Gob is to Kitty)
* Gob grabbing everything he needs to write a letter:
* Tobias’s magnificent collection of headshots:
(If I recall correctly, that image in the bottom-right was my avatar back on The OP, the now-defunct Arrested Development site/forum I’ve mentioned a couple of times here)
* The show’s subversion of the “woman takes off her glasses, undoes her hair and reveals herself to be drop-dead sexy” trope is utterly hilarious, due in no small part to the high level of commitment on behalf of Judy Greer (who actually is very attractive usually!):
And, of course, the follow-up Gob runner is one of the show’s most quotable bits. “Glasses off. Glasses on. Hair up. Glasses off. Down, on. Have we done up, off?”
* 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?!
(I’d forgotten that exchange entirely, so I actually lost it laughing when I rewatched this episode a couple of days ago)
* 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!
* All of the Lindsay/Tobias/Dr. Gunty therapy sessions are fantastic, but this scene is easily the stand-out (apologies in advance for the subtitles, it was the only copy of this scene I could find on YouTube):
* “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 a 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.”
* 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?
(Kitty would later become synonymous with the adjective “crazy,” but as far as this episode goes, “repulsive” appears to be the keyword)
* Gob’s attempts to make the trailer less bright are also incredibly amusing.
* A cameraman can be seen briefly in the shot when Lindsay gets up from the couch:
EPISODE NOTES & TRIVIA
* This was the first episode to be broadcast out of order – Charity Drive aired before it during its initial Fox run (though the season 1 DVD restores the episodes to production order). There aren’t any major continuity issues created by switching the two around, but given that Kitty appears in both episodes and receives a much more thorough introduction here, it makes far more sense to watch this one first.
* Buster does not appear in this episode (presumably still hiding from Lucille 2).
* This episode marks the first appearance of the brilliant Judy Greer as Kitty, which I dare say is her most deranged role this side of Cheryl/Carol/Cherlene on Archer (a role which she was offered because of her work on Arrested Development – as I’m sure most Archer fans are aware, there’s a lot of crossover between the show’s cast, and plenty of AD references on Archer accordingly). Kitty is also one of the few recurring side characters to have appeared in all four seasons of the show so far (though, like Barry Zuckerkorn, her role in season 3 is confined to a small cameo in the first episode).
* Bob Odenkirk guest stars here as Dr. Gunty. It’s a little bit of stunt casting, as him and David Cross had, of course, previously worked together on the cult HBO sketch comedy series “Mr. Show with Bob and David.” Odenkirk is now best known for the role of Saul Goodman (A.K.A. Jimmy McGill) in Breaking Bad, and its spin-off series Better Call Saul. It was, admittedly, quite strange seeing him in a drama for the first time, though I’ve since grown so accustomed to it, it’s become stranger for me to see him in comedies now! Plus, as I’m sure everyone is aware, Odenkirk is an excellent comedic performer, and he knocks it out of the park here.
* This would be the final appearance of warden James Buck (portrayed by Rocky McMurray). From Staff Infection onwards, the warden of Orange County Prison is Stefan Gentles (played by James Lipton), whose weird character traits fit in much better with the show’s universe, in my opinion. Warden Buck’s actions always seemed a little too mean spirited for my liking; intentionally putting Gob’s life at risk and then illegally detaining him on site, for seemingly no reason. Granted, Arrested Development has no lack of terrible people in its huge roster of characters, but most other characters seem to be motivated by greed or ignorance, whereas James Buck was just an asshole.
* George Sr’s investment in softball would later be explored in season 2’s Switch Hitter.
* Tobias’s cut-offs are finally acknowledged here, though they still wouldn’t be explainedfor another few episodes.
* 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 tv show Oz is also brought up.
* George Sr’s line “Daddy horny, Michael” would later be referenced again in season 3’s The Ocean Walker (“Rita corny, Michael”), and Michael’s follow-up of “He said some wonderful things” re-emerges in a similar joke in season 2’s The One Where Michael Leaves.
* Gob’s line “I *beeped* *NAME*” would become somewhat of a running gag, appearing again this season in Shock and Aww.
* This is 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.
* This is the first we learn of George Sr’s many counts of infidelity. It would later become somewhat of a running joke on the show.
* George Sr. utters the phrase “family first” here, perhaps 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).
* Dr. Gunty’s “I want to be an actor” revelation mirrors that of Tobias from the first episode, complete with the same physical mannerisms, and that excited inhaling noise – which is actually the exact recording of David Cross sampled from the pilot. This bit would later be replicated again with Lindsay (complete with the same audio once more) in Whistler’s Mother.
* George Sr’s infamous line “I may have committed some, uhh, light… treason” plants the seed for the big reveal in Let ‘Em Eat Cake. However, it also sets up another one of my favourite weird little running gags – the idea that “light/medium/heavy” is an officialclassification system for treason in the AD universe.
* The DVD contains 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 sets up the George Michael/Maeby plot this episode. 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.”)
THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
* 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.”
* 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.
* Dr. Gunty’s office is decorated with pictures of dogs (see the “minor nitpicks” section, along with some dog-related items on the bookcase:
But the REAL brilliance of this subtle background gag comes from the cover of this magazine Lindsay can be seen reading while Tobias and Dr. Gunty get far too into character… I hope this is big enough for everyone to make out all the headlines, as there’s some real gold here:
* Geore Sr’s demand to George Michael – “Give Pop-Pop your hair” – is played more like a bout of madness here, but is actually foreshadowing for George Sr’s escape plan at the end of the season.
THIS INSTALLMENT’S DISCUSSION QUESTION
Dr. Gunty is definitely a character I’d like to see again on the show, even if, admittedly, it might be difficult to work him in. Are there any one-off (or very, very minor characters) you wish had more appearances?