For IFC’s Arrested Development campaign on Nerve.com, I produced a week-long “guest-star bracket,” in which we asked readers to vote daily to determine the best of Arrested Development’s many guest stars. See the original here.
Is there a show so rewarding of repeated viewings as Arrested Development? With so many callback jokes, tiny details, and meta-references stuffed into every scene, you could literally blink and miss something. If you still haven’t purchased the DVD sets yet (and…are you in a coma, perhaps?), lucky for you that IFC is bringing the show back to your TV screen this fall, with back-to-back episodes Sundays at 10PM.
In honor of that commendable deed, we want to figure out – of all the many excellent guest stars in the series’ run, which one takes the cake? Do you prefer the borderline psychotics of Judy Greer as Kitty Sanchez, or are you more into the subtle homo-eroticism of Henry Winkler’s Barry Zuckercorn? We’ve paired up sixteen of the best for a fight to claim the top spot. Give us your votes – and make sure to come back tomorrow for the next round.
Liza Minnelli vs. Ed Begley, Jr.
As the vertigo-suffering Lucille Two, Liza Minnelli channeled her own craziness into the best friend and rival of the Bluth matriarch, Lucille. Not only did she attempt to buy the company (first to help her friend, then to screw her over), she managed to seduce two of the Bluth brothers.
Ed Begley, Jr. played another rival of the Bluths, the completely hairless Stan Sitwell, whose competition with the family was more business-based than personal. A do-gooder version of George Bluth, Sitwell was the perfect foil for the amoral protagonists.
Zach Braff vs. Judy Greer
Zach Braff appeared as an analog for sleazy Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, whose video series Girls With Low Self Esteem asked ladies to flash his cameras in public even while he was, secretly, a never-nude.
Greer’s absolutely unbalanced secretary/mistress Kitty Sanchez, on the other hand, flashed her girls at the drop of a hat and mastered the art of giving the perfect crazy eye. A constant thorn in the side of much of the Bluth family, Kitty helped teach us that while you can sleep with it, you can never promise crazy a baby.
Henry Winkler vs. Jane Lynch
A far cry from the Fonze, Winkler’s Barry Zuckercorn was the family lawyer who had probably at least heard of the bar exam, though it didn’t seem like her was every personally acquainted with it. An ambulance chaser with a flair for obvious repressed homosexuality, he was as hapless and inefficient enough to seem like an actual Bluth.
Lynch, on the other hand, applied her comic chops to the character of Cindi Lightballoon, a government agent pretending to be a devotee of George Bluth’s Caged Wisdom series of religious teachings, and suffered a trip to second base through a prison fence at George’s hand.
Charlize Theron vs. Scott Baio
Who was Rita, Charlize Theron’s mysterious, hilarious, and somehow inexplicable British bombshell? Was she actually a British spy, using cameras in her many ludicrous hats to spy on the Bluths for her handler, Mr. F? No, she was not: the woman Michael Bluth almost married was an heiress, but the “MRF” on bracelet wasn’t espionage code – it was short for “Mentally Retarded Female.”
Baio’s Bob Loblaw, on the other hand, was a straight-shooter with a tongue-twister name (try saying “Bob Loblaw lobs law bomb” three times fast) and, in one of the best meta-jokes of the series, was brought in to replace Barry Zuckercorn because he “skews younger.”
Carl Weathers vs. Martin Short
Carl Weathers certainly deserves praise for so willingly skewering himself for the sake of the show. Appearing as Carl Weathers, he portrayed himself as incomparably stingy, willing to take advantage of Tobias Funke’s misguided dreams of becoming an actor, and perpetually obsessed with saving scraps of food with which he could make stew.
As the wheelchair-bound Uncle Jack, Martin Short played his horn-dog character with gleeful creepiness, as the octogenarian tried to seduce Bluth daughter Lindsay in exchange for helping the company monetarily.
James Lipton vs. Mo Collins
It might seem hard to imagine the soft-spoken host of Inside the Actor’s Studio as a laid-back prison warden, but James Lipton pulled it off with a surprising air of menace and a love of writing screenplays. Despite his work getting rejected by everyone he sends it to, Warden Gentles does eventually get his Oz-like creation performed at an elementary school with the help of Lucille.
The unhinged secretary Starla, played by Mo Collins, is also devoted to a dream that isn’t likely to come true – trying to reignite a (possibly imagined) love affair with Quincy Jones, even at the risk of contracting rabies from his guard dogs.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus vs. Andy Richter
As Maggie Lizer (aka Maggie Lies-her-ass-off), Julia Louis-Dreyfus played a character who, for all her faults, may have been the perfect match for Michael Bluth. Sure, she lied for years about being blind (until the one say she was actually temporarily blind and Michael through a book at her face) and then pretended later to be pregnant (until she and Michael had a quick romp in a hospital and, you guessed it, she actually got pregnant), but Michael has his faults as well.
And while Andy Richter only appeared in two episodes, he played five different people – the five identical Richter brothers, including both his real-life persona and Rocky Richter, the intimidating stuntman brother.
Amy Poehler vs. Ben Stiller
While they were actually married in real life, Amy Poehler and Will Arnet’s characters struggled to even remember each other’s names after a night of Vegas-inspired insanity (the best G.O.B. could do was “Usarmy,” after looking at her dog tags). Before convincing G.O.B. to consummate their marriage before divorce proceedings (with proof in the form of photos inspired by the Abu Ghraib scandal), she also lends him one of her trained seals – which eventually bites of Buster Bluth’s hand.
Ben Stiller played the stage magician (sorry, illusionist) with spectacular megalomania, and was G.O.B.’s rival in the world of professional magic, doing everything from appearing out of nowhere (next to a convenient dumb-waiter) to pulling pieces of bread out of his chest.