If you’ve ever read any of my previous blatherings about television, you’d know that one of my favorite things is when a comedy has an emotional element that draws you in.
Whether it be through the actual storyline or through the growth and advancement of the character alone, if you make me emotionally invested, I will likely remain watching and tell everyone I know all about it. Such was the case with this episode of Arrested Development.
"Smashed" provided a great example of this as Tobias Funke becomes less of a caricature and more of a character. This is Tobias’ arrested development.
When we last saw Tobias he’d run into a bit of trouble with the law thanks to one John Beard and his show To Catch a Local Predator. Thanks to a brief prison stay he takes Lucille 2 up on her offer to be a therapist at her rehab clinic and right off the bat we see a change in Tobias. He is no longer an “analrapist” but has instead moved on to calling himself a “theralyst."
Wise move, Tobias, wise move.
Another change in Tobias comes about in his relationship with DeBrie Bardeaux. Maria Bamford does an exceptional job playing this washed up, two-strikes already can’t get a third, former “actress,” addict. She provides the perfect canvas upon which Tobias can paint his delusions of grandeur.
DeBrie only found a smidge more success in acting than Tobias yet he sees her as the perfect movie star. As the episode progresses and he realizes that keeping “The Fantastic Four: The Musical” going is the only way he’d be able to stay close to her, thanks to therapists being unable to have personal relationships with their patients, he builds her up even further despite her hesitations.
It’s no surprise that she ends up cracking under the pressure. She is not a well woman, and it's even less of a surprise that she stumbles upon Dr. Norman’s discarded illegal medical supplies. When Tobias finds DeBrie in a pile of debris he is finally faced with the results of his own actions and to his credit, he realizes it. The writers could have easily gone for the cheap laugh at that point but allowing a character to have those self-realizing moments is what makes viewers really fall in love with them.
Of course, mention of DeBrie leads us to the other secondary cast members that have done so much to build up this fourth season in which the main cast was pieced together like the Thanksgiving turkey Rosario eats on Will and Grace.
Tommy Tune is fantastic as the musical theatre loving director of his sister’s rehab clinic. I daresay there aren’t many that can be so threatening while wearing tap shoes. Even Andy Richter as his various quintuplet brothers brings an unexpected humor to the series.
He hasn’t shown up yet, but we’ve seen Martin Mull alluded to often already with the snack the Bluth’s enjoy of parmesan cheese and mustard - of course referring to Mull being both Gene Parmesan on Arrested Development and Colonel Mustard in the great Clue.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode. Even though there were a few times where it had that “okay I’m tired of seeing this scene yet again,” for the most part it felt like fresh material. I know I can’t be the only one who hopes to someday have the chance to purchase the soundtrack for “The Fantastic Four: The Musical.”
What about you, TV Fanatics? What did you think of "Smashed?" Was it a smashing success?