While his parents and siblings might be the main focus of the story, it’s Buster Bluth that provides so many of the memorable moments in both the Arrested Development of the past and this new season, most especially in "Off the Hook."
In an episode that relied heavily on callbacks and tropes, we are reminded how much better the Bluths are when they are working together. At the same time. On the same screen.
It would be very easy to fall into a roofie circle when it comes to a character like Buster Bluth, repeating the same jokes ad naseum, because he doesn’t have much depth to him so it’s impressive that the writers were able to take this Motherboy and have 35 minutes revolve solely around him. I don’t know that is was a complete success because so much of what makes Buster, Buster, is his relationships. He is a motherboy after all.
"Off The Hook" picks up where so many other episodes have with the commandeering of the Queen Mary by Lucille 1. Because it’s Buster’s story we get to see him fall overboard and in the span of ten seconds put forth two of the best jokes of the entire episode.
While showing flashback footage of Buster floating in the ocean we can see the watermark “Show Stealer Pro -- Trial Version” only to have that change a couple seconds later to “trial version has expired - click here to purchase full version.” These are the kinds of things that have endeared Mitch Hurwitz’s show to so many as there’s a little bit of something for everyone. At the same time the watermark was making people laugh, one of my favorite wordplay moments was occurring because “his biggest fear wasn’t confronting a wet loose seal, it was losing one.”
How perfect is that?
I was a little surprised how little interaction there was between Lucille 1 and Buster but I didn’t miss it that much. It was probably due to the fact that the “Vince Vaughn movie, Psycho”-esque scene was so entertaining and creepy at the same time. By the time Lucille came home after two days away and spent a couple hours playing “guess my fur,” I was ready for her to leave again.
As much as the mamma’s boy trope is overplayed with Buster, I was so glad to see him find a new story to grasp onto. That of course was his big hand.
Even though he was wearing his seatbelt, Buster suffered a horrific drone pilot accident there in the strip mall and the Literal Doctor is able to give him a big hand. Blind Side Monster should not have been as funny as it was, for as long as it was. It’s a big hand and it can hurt people/animals. That on its own is amusing but not necessarily funny. Add in some good writing and Tony Hale and that joke becomes more than it is on paper.
Who would have ever thought that a man who has a juice addiction would end up threatening National Honor Society students with a hand he calls thunder that doesn't allow him to use a remote?
In the end, the most interesting part of the monstrosity ended up being the question of the hand's involvement in Lucille 2’s murder. Or is it murder? Did she fall? Is she really dead? How long can George Michael keep letting people believe he has a program called FakeBlock and why doesn’t Buster have a career as a male dancer since he’s amazing with a woodblock track.
While I really enjoyed this episode on its own, it made me wish they’d been able to get the cast together for a more traditional setup. As much as we love Buster, he really is a B-story kind of character. Much like absence makes the heart grow fonder, less Buster makes him that much more funny. This combined with the obvious editing issues with standins and what-not makes ‘Off The Hook’ my favorite and least favorite episode of them all.
It doesn’t seem like that’d be possible, but apparently it is.
What did you think of "Off The Hook?" Best and worst? Best? Worst? Sound off in the comments and come back tomorrow for the final installment of our 15 Days of Arrested Development series!