begin to sing “Hello, darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk
with you again.” It is a brief interlude showing viewers the
emotional toll of G.O.B.’s decisions on him, but once he snaps out
of his reverie, he is back to his normal, obnoxiously ignorant, self-
indulgent persona. The joke lands well every time, and like the
“I’ve made a huge mistake” joke, it begins to happen with other
characters, like rival magician Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller). A
primary difference is that rather than spreading the joke out fifteen
times over 58 episodes, this joke happens five times in the two
G.O.B.-centric episodes. The compression is necessary as G.O.B.
is only prominently featured in two episodes, but it is also
indicative of the Binge Model in which episodes are watched in a
few sittings rather than multiple months so that the frequency of
running jokes and character beats featuring them need to decrease
in order not to become tedious for the audience.
The compression of the running jokes also means that
plots develop in different ways. Some are more expedient, and
some are slower. Season-long arcs are present in both the initial
run of Arrested Development and the Netflix season. In the first
season, Michael works to gather evidence to prove his father is
innocent. The climax of the season is Michael, having decided his
father is guilty, refusing to take a polygraph test. Instead, George,
Sr. takes it, fakes a heart attack, and then escapes from the hospital.
He winds up hiding in the attic where the majority of the Bluths
are staying, and Michael finds him there. Given the chance to turn
him in, Michael decides to keep his father hidden, thinking there
actually is a chance he may be innocent. It is the emotional payoff
of a season built around the tension between father and son as well
as the disruption of a season featuring George, Sr. in prison.
Similarly, the Netflix season features Michael trying to get the
signatures of his family members so Ron Howard (again, playing
himself) can make a movie based on the Bluth family. In the first