Bob’s Burgers: Season 3, Lookback
Taking stock of season 3 and reviewing it as a whole. Come have a bite.
Alas, not only has the third season of Bob’s Burgers come to an end, so has its run on Den of Geek. The good news is that the show has enough of a following that it has been picked up for a fourth season after many reviewers had doubts it would survive beyond the first. Season Three has been the best yet, so what is it about this animated show that has kept so many people watching? Let’s take a look back at the best and the worst.
Bob’s Burgers centers around the Belcher family (dad Bob, mom Linda and kids Gene, Tina and Louise) and their semi-successful burger joint, which only seems to have two or three regular customers. Bob has periodic run-ins with health inspector Hugo, who used to date Linda and carries a serious grudge, shutting down the restaurant out of spite any chance he gets.
We see a whole new side of Hugo (and a few other characters) in “Nude Beach” (Episode 11), when Hugo takes a leave of absence from being a health inspector and finds some new friends at the nude beach that just opened up. His replacement Tommy, seems a lot more lax, but when he asks Bob if he can play music in the restaurant, his risqué lyrics and horrible singing drive away what few customers they have. The Nude Decathlon that comes later is one of the funniest scenes of the season.
Some people who watch Bob’s say that Louise is the main reason they stay tuned in. She’s a smart alecky, pink bunny ear wearing, entrepreneurial pre-teen who’s always looking to make a quick buck. In “Nude Beach”, it involves borrowing a friend’s telescope so that other kids can pay to look at the naked adults. In “My Fuzzy Valentine” (Episode 13), she keeps distracting Bob in his search for a Valentine’s Day gift, just so she and her siblings can stay out of school.
Even when mom Linda drags Louise off to an all day seminar (“Mother Daughter Laser Razor”, Episode 10), Louise puts up so much resistance that Linda is forced to pay her to play along. One of my favorite Louise moments is when she takes the price gun at a grocery store and marks everything, including the booze, down to only one dollar (“Lindapendent Woman”, Episode 14).
Louise might be the viewers’ favorite Belcher child, but I have a special place in my heart for Tina, the geeky fourteen year old with a bowl cut who writes erotic fiction in her journal and pines after Bob’s rival’s son, Jimmy Pesto, Jr. A hopeless romantic, she tries to advise (and scold) Bob in their search for a perfect Valentine’s Day present for Linda (“I thought you were done half-assing it, Dad!” she barks) and searches desperately for a mystery boy with an index finger injury after “meeting” him in the dairy case of the Fresh Feed supermarket. When she finally tracks down and identifies Josh, he and Jimmy Jr. battle over her at the school dance (“Two for Tina”, Episode 17).
As great as it sounds initially, both boys end up deserting Tina. Will she find love in the next season? Will she get a makeover to help her out, after taking the first step and getting her legs waxed?
Speaking of finding love, it’s not always wanted or appreciated, as slovenly Gene finds out in Episode 8. “The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene” illustrates middle school dating at its worst. This, along with “Bob Fires the Kids” (Episode 3), is one of my favorites of the season. Like most of the characters, even Courtney is voiced by a man; she and her friends corner Gene at his locker and pretty much force him into dating her, even though she is a necklace sucking, seat kicking airhead who annoys the crap out of everyone. Unfortunately, she also has a congenital heart condition and when Gene breaks up with her at her birthday party, it doesn’t go well.
Gene also delivers most of the cringe worthy lines of the series, including:
My armpits are naturally spicy!We gotta get our congenitals to class!It’s a missionary position mission!
Remember, this is the same kid who fell in love with a manatee puppet.
The best Gene moment however, comes when he makes himself over to look just like his father. Mom is delighted (“Awww! It’s a travel size Bobby!”). But Bob is appalled, especially when Gene starts doing dead-on impressions of him. It more than makes up for the ending of “Broadcast Wagstaff School News” (Episode 12), when the person who has been leaving poop around the school is discovered. Watching Zeke squatting and grunting on the catwalk during a school assembly beats Gene’s disgusting antics, which is not an easy thing to do.
Two of the weakest overall story lines are in “The Deepening” (Episode 6) and the Christmas episode “God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-mannequins” (Episode 9). The first has landlord Mr. Fischoeder presenting the town with the mechanical shark from a horror movie made in the town years before. Somehow, it ends up coming to life on its own and terrorizes the community, ending up in the basement of Bob’s restaurant. Looking back in my notes, I see that I didn’t write any particular moments that stood out, except for Teddy saying, “We’re gonna need a bigger restaurant”, and Tina’s bizarre daydream about throwing chum in the air for the shark.
The Christmas episode can’t be saved even with the star power of Zach Galifianakis, whose character Chad is found living in a storage unit, claiming he is a mannequin come to life. His quest to find lost mannequin love Nadine leads to one hilarious scene in a sex shop, where the kids distract the owner by firing up a bunch of personal massagers and letting them loose on the floor as Bob runs off with Nadine. Chad’s window displays are great until Bob insults him and a less than savory display involving quite a bit of gore is so off-putting that customers avoid the restaurant.
Galifianakis was one of my top ten celebrity voices for the show, and it’s appropriate that a rather bizarre comedian took on the role of emotionally and mentally disturbed Chad. Still, it’s not one of the best story lines. I’m hoping for a better, funnier holiday episode sometime in the next few seasons.
If you’ve never seen the show before, I would strongly recommend one of my favorite episodes, “Bob Fires the Kids”. In an attempt to keep from ruining his children’s summer fun, Bob lets them go. But they’re so bored they wander onto a farm owned by an older hippie couple who have a thriving, um, “blueberry” business. The kids become dealers in town, making so much money that when Bob needs them back, they refuse. The final scene involves a chaotic drug bust at the farm and ends with Louise telling the story in her classroom. “And that’s why I think blueberries should be legalized!” she proclaims, getting a big facepalm from the teacher.
As far as the peripheral characters go, most of them are at least slightly corrupt and more than a little bit dishonest. When Tina tries to drive and hits the only car in an otherwise empty parking lot (“Tina-rannosaurus Wrecks”, Episode 7), the Belcher family gets sucked into an insurance fraud scheme run by agent Chase Kominski. Mickey, the bank robber who held Bob hostage last season, resurfaces to work at the restaurant. Mort the mortician uses his hearse to transport things other than dead bodies and during a speed dating session organized by Linda, a group of the town’s citizens confess to their dirtiest deeds. (Linda’s friend Gretchen admits to stalking Mark Harmon and running over his wife, Pam Dawber, with her car). And let’s not forget the Deuce of Diamonds in the finale, who has dabbled in various fields, all of which involve lame motivational videos and expensive, useless classes.
Final review:When I watched the very first episode from Season One, it left me unimpressed and scratching my head. I’ve seen The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad…they’re all funny and kind of vulgar. But I didn’t quite get Bob’s Burgers and stopped watching it until the second season. Again, I didn’t watch all of those episodes, but it started to draw me in and by the third season I was hooked. It became the show that we all talked about at work Monday mornings (and we weren’t allowed to spoil it if someone missed it).
Critics and viewers are starting to take notice and this last season was the longest yet, with twenty-three episodes. With a few rare exceptions, I would tell new viewers to skip the first two seasons and start here. I’m sure that creator Loren Bouchard has much more in store for the Belchers, whose actors keep a spontaneous, unpredictable feel to the show. If you’re really interested, go to YouTube and check out some behind the scenes videos and see the people behind the voices. Give the show a chance. It just might grow on you too.
Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.