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Arrested Development: Top Banana - VIDEO

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 13th 2008 10:02AM
AD: Top Banana

Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.

(S01E02) Many people will tell you that they got sucked into Arrested Development by its pilot. I wasn't. For some reason, I didn't watch the pilot when it first aired. But that's just fine, because the second episode, "Top Banana," was a perfect representation of everything AD ended up being. Throwaway jokes. Quick cut-aways and flashbacks. Subtle catchphrase generation. A "lesson of the week" couched in vicious barbs between members of the Bluth family. Oh, and two words that I'll never forget: "No touching!"

What made this episode great is that it somehow was able to quickly establish who the characters were without having to use all the exposition that the pilot needed to do. If you were coming to the show for the first time, like I did, it didn't take long to find out that George Sr. was in charge of the family and business, Michael is earnestly trying to run it the right way, GOB is a failed magician, Lindsay was over-privileged, Tobias is the world's worst actor, Lucille was a shrewish drunk, and George Michael is secretly attracted to his cousin Maeby. The only character we don't see is Buster, who, for some reason, isn't in on the fun in this episode.

What struck me when I rewatched the episode (thank you Hulu! The episode is below for you to enjoy as well) was the same things that hit me like a sock full of nickels the first time around. The first thing was the throwaway jokes like "No touching!" All George has to do is brush an ice cream sandwich on Michael's nose and he gets admonished for touching. Oh, and Michael's line to George Michael about being Maeby's boss at the banana stand made me howl the same way it did five years ago: "You stay on top of her, buddy. Do not be afraid to ride her... hard." The horrified / titillated reaction on Michael Cera's face -- one that fans of Superbad and Juno now know very well -- is priceless.

What I also loved was GOB's saga with the dead dove. He claims that it died during his act, but pet store surveillance video shows otherwise. GOB's plight reveals how the writers liked to layer callbacks upon callbacks, dropping funny lines without having to explain them to the audience like so many other sitcoms might. First he throws Michael's mail in the water (many times, since an envelope isn't exactly heavy), then, during the "next time on" sequence, he tosses the dead dove in the water ("Return from whence you came!" he bellows. Doves originated in the ocean?). When he subsequently drops the line "I've got a rabbit to buy," we all know what's coming next without having it explained to us. That's the beauty of AD, and what kept me coming back after that episode.

Other fun stuff:

  • Tobias' shower sobbing when Lindsay gets the acting job he was going for. Notice that in some of those quick scenes, Tobias is wearing denim shorts. I was surprised to see him being a "nevernude" there, since I don't think they had introduced that personality quirk of Tobias' as yet.
  • "There's always money in the banana stand." See, either Lindsay or GOB would have understood that line from George Sr. because, just like their dad, they're both inherently corrupt. It figures that Michael, the "good son," would take that line at face value.
  • Lindsay about her daughter: "That stand won't last a week with her there." Wow. I don't even think it lasted two days.
  • For some reason, I forgot that Patrice O'Neal played T-Bone, "the flamer." Tough Crowd was well underway by then, and that's the way most people were introduced to Patrice. Anyway, I loved how he readily admitted to burning down the storage unit when Michael asked him about it.
  • Lucille and Lindsay ever-so-politely trading insults over lunch. Linday is "fat," according to Lucille. And Lucille is drunk, according to Lindsay, as well as everyone else.
  • GOB on the Segway. That never stopped being funny.

Were there more slow spots than I remembered? Yep. But that's OK. What's remarkable about this episode is that, in retrospect, I'm shocked at how all the elements we loved about AD were on the show from the very beginning. It's rare to see a show look the same at the beginning as it eventually does at the end. I remember laughing my ass off at the end of this one and saying to myself, "Wow. That was really, really good!" And that's when I became hooked. And since AD was one of the best comedies I've seen in many years, I'll forever remember this episode for making me a fan.

What's your favorite line in Top Banana?
"There's always money in the banana stand."24 (13.1%)
"You stay on top of her, buddy. Do not be afraid to ride her... hard."78 (42.6%)
"No touching!"35 (19.1%)
"I've got a rabbit to buy."15 (8.2%)
"Return from whence you came!"31 (16.9%)

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"ACTOR PULL"...... "Oooohhh look at all these parts!!!"

I missed that somehow on the original airing, but I almost just spit out my milk watching it now!

June 13 2008 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


June 13 2008 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alvaro's comment

Maybe you'd like to try that a little... simpler?

I think he made the fire too real for them!

Best show ever, you could recap any episode of this show at random and everytime I'd be reminded just how great this show was.

Anyone know if there's any more movie news?

June 13 2008 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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