Arrested Development’s Hidden Jokes: Episodes 1 and 2

Perhaps you binge-watched every single episode of Arrested Development’s new season the first weekend. Perhaps you’ve taken your time, ignored the spoilers, and listened to creator Mitch Hurwitz’s slow-and-steady advice. At Vulture, we chose to do it both ways: We posted immediate recaps right after opening weekend, then took a deep breath and started all over again more slowly, taking time to scour every episode to find the show’s many Easter eggs, callbacks, and hints to future episodes. Some were obvious, some more buried. Let’s begin with the first two episodes. How many of them did you catch?

Episode 1: “Flight of the Phoenix”

With a green beauty mask and one eye almost fully blinked, Kristen Wiig’s young Lucille ws not only an impression of Jessica Walter, but also fit with her evil rhyme because she looked like the Grinch.

Photo: Weber, Lindsey

George Michael’s dorm room “Leave a note!” is certainly reminiscent of the lessons his grandfather already imparted. DEAD DOVE. Do. Not. Eat.

Trisha Thoon, FOX 6’s most reliable correspondent (as played by Stacey Grenrock-Woods, former Daily Show correspondent and Esquire sex columnist), has previously reported on G.O.B.’s Aztec Tomb trick, Johnny Bark’s tree protest, and the suspicious “mini-mansions” being built in Iraq. She’s always on that Bluth beat.

Reporting from what appears to be “Wee Orange County” in “Actual Britain” (as opposed to the home of Rita Leeds, a.k.a. “Wee Britain” in actual Orange County), Beatrix Hebberly-Sneed is played by Actual British Person Amanda De Cadenet — a talk-show host whose ex-husband was in Duran Duran and whose current husband is in the Strokes. So. British.

George Michael’s dorm-room map has what appears to be three pins on it, noting his vast international travel. One has to be his home in Newport Beach, the two others appear to be: Mexico, from his season-two trip; and Spain, where we will later see he studied abroad and experimented with facial hair.

Stuck in 2003? So was Arrested Development, as that was the year it premiered.

Michael’s Peter Pan debut has him shouting “Loose seal!” a callback to the pun over the animal whose physical damage to Buster rivaled the emotional damage his mother Lucille did.

A Buster-like hook fell, and Michael got the hook.

Attitude is a real British magazine for gay men, and they used a real cover with a mix of real and tweaked headlines. “The Secret to Being Gay & Happy”? Real! “Magic Man Tony Wonder’s Biggest Secret”? No, at least not yet.

The Spanish for brother is actually hermano. And to think Michael already learned this lesson the hard way in season one with Marta. For a refresher course, he can always ask Buster.

The Korean Club is meeting at 7 p.m., you say? Will we need name tags? … Hello?

Poor Lucille Austero, stuck paying for Michael’s doomed building project and Buster’s juice box habit. $325 worth!

“Halted Development.”

“Discontinued Development.”

Perhaps one of the episode’s most wonderful Easter eggs is that once Michael hits Phoenix, he takes the moving platform along a mural that tells the tale of Arrested Development. There’s even an actual Egg, Ann Veal, on the steps of the church.

The mural was custom-painted by artists Mike Lockwood, Kirk Shinmoto, and Arthur Loftis. Check out the full version:

Episode 2: “Borderline Personalities”

The real profits in Oscar and George Sr.’s pseudo-spiritual sweat lodge retreat come from charging parched corporate executives exorbitant sums for a glass of lemonade. It’s not Oscar’s first time peddling that drink: In season one’s “Whistler’s Mother,” we learned that the only value of his lemon grove (on which the U.S. government has an easement) is the $1.50 per glass he can make selling lemonade to passing troops. 

Speaking of George Sr.’s twin brother, did you know that Oscar’s middle name is … George. Confusing.

A reference to the fact that both men are played by Jeffrey Tambor … and Arrested Development is pretty bad at green screening.

No need to explain this one.

Does this young Barry Zuckerkorn look familiar? That’s because he’s played by Henry Winkler’s son, Max Winkler.

Stan Sitwell lost his “human chest hair nipple tufts” when he fell overboard on the Queen Mary during “Flight of the Phoenix.” From season three:

Michael: Well, yeah, but Stan Sitwell’s always had a wild hair to buy this business.

Lucille: It’s the only hair he’s got. What? He’s an alpaca.

Michael: He has alopecia.  

Stan’s suspicious-looking blueprints:

Halliburton Teen, where “no one rides for free” and they’re selling a “denim skirt” that looks suspiciously like Tobias’s cutoffs. Ask about their fracking!

Lucille showing George Sr. a cell-phone picture of the blueprints he grabbed from Stan — a small reference back to Tobias’s accidental scrotum photo from season two’s “Sad Sack”?

The misting cart called “Mr. Mister” certainly referring to the eighties band, but also adding to the show’s collections of Misters, from “Mr. Manager” to “Mr. F”?

A flashback to George Sr.’s days in prison, where he made cash hawking Kabbalah-based wisdom with “Caged Wisdom” tapes and DVDs. “Good grief, he’s sent us one of his idiot videotapes!”

The website where George Sr. took his ordained minister test (, natch) has the question “What is Science?” with the answer options being: “An empirical study to determine the truth”; “A gob of spit in the eye of God”; “Even more of a religion than your thing”; and “All of the above.” Notice that George Sr. also has tabs open to figure out the answers.

To avoid saying “Google,” George Sr. tells Heartfire to “search something.”

She finds a Craigslist posting for “Large Mud Hut,” the categories being “orange county clist>for sale>magic>Christian/prehistoric/fairytale.”

Anchor John Beard, who plays himself and was actually the FOX news anchor in Orange County during Arrested Development’s original run. He was fired from KTTV-LA 2007 for wanting to do more serious journalism. Here, he’s hosting a tacky morning show called during Good News O.C. With John, Jackie, and Joan — which is certainly based on FOX’s own actual local morning show, Good Day L.A.

The news story on Lucille Austero adopting falsely freckled Mexican foster child “Perfecto” appears on the Orange County Ledger’s website.

First class in-flight magazine we12 is shown twice during the episode — the first time with George Sr.’s “Wealth Warrior” article (notice his mid-prayer stance, much like his son’s in-flight mag debut from the first episode, above).

The second time, we12 prints an apology for featuring the quack retreat, along with a cover story called “The Best of Altitude (what they’re reading behind you)” — referring to Michael’s feature story from the (other) in-flight magazine, Altitude.

Arrested Development Hidden Jokes: Episodes 1–2