The pragmatics and new structure fundamentally change
the series including the construction of jokes, development of
character arcs, and the reason to re-watch, which left many
disappointed (though not this author). In the initial run of the
series, running jokes would slip into episodes throughout the
course of the season, appearing maybe once every three or four
episodes. With the new model, the running jokes would appear
three or more times within a single episode because the same
character was required for the joke to land. A prime example of
this change can be seen with the running jokes involving G.O.B.
During the initial run of Arrested Development, a running joke (and
the one that seems to have made the greatest impact on pop
culture) is his phrase “I’ve made a huge mistake.” He says the line
in romantic situations such as when he breaks up with Marta and
when he gets back together with her as well as professional ones
such as when he realizes being the CEO of the Bluth Company
is more work than he expected. Once the joke is established, other
characters start to say it as well. In “Forget-Me-Now” during the
third season, G.O.B.’s illegitimate son (and Maeby’s crush) Steve
Holt (Justin Grant Wade) comes to G.O.B. for advice, believing
he has slept with his cousin. Steve says he has “made a huge
mistake.” G.O.B., with an unexpected father-like compassion (at
first), tells him, “I know the feeling. I had you.” It should also be
said that in addition to G.O.B. being a mediocre (at best) magician,
he is also a terrible and inattentive father. The joke takes on a life
of its own over the first three seasons during which the line appears
15 different times.
In contrast, the fourth season introduces a running joke
with the Simon & Garfunkel song “Sound of Silence.” When
G.O.B. has a moment of realization (often about something in his
romantic life advancing past a point where he would like it to), the
camera slowly zooms in on his sullen face as Simon and Garfunkel
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