Being animated can be a major advantage for a sitcom. Sure, it allows middle-aged men to voice teenage girls, but it also allows the show’s writers the ability to serialize a family’s story at their own pace. So far, Bob’s Burgers has used serialization primarily to flesh out its world. Bob’s running rivalry with Jimmy Pesto has existed from the beginning, but it being fleshed out over the course of great episodes like “Sheesh! Cab, Bob?” and “Burgerboss” has helped to define the relationship as crucial to the show, and this history helps give tonight’s episode its impetus.
Serialization about characters’ age and the changes of time, on the other hand, is something that Bob’s Burgers can put off indefinitely. Sure, we’ve seen Tina’s birthday party, but that didn’t entirely feel like a major life change, perhaps because it took place too early in the series. Tina was infinitely 12 years and 364 days old beforehand, and since, she’s infinitely 13 years and a day old.
So the opening of “Tina-rannosaurus Wrecks,” where Bob encourages Tina to drive for the first time, represents arguably the first major sign that the kids may get older, and that that aging process may drive some storylines for the show. It’s entirely likely that we’ll only get occasional, slight aging pieces like tonight’s, but given how amazing the opening scene is, I’m not sure I’d mind a slight aging process. Tina being given the wheel and forced to confront adult responsibility turns into one of the funniest scenes of the season, with her constant “ennnnnhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” and total failure to deal in a competent fashion.
This is really the only scene where “Tina growing up” is critical to the plot, but everything after springs from that. Jimmy Pesto, whose car Tina hits, calls Bob and taunts him, and it’s great. Mort offers to drive the Belchers around in his hearse—and Louise and Gene take him up on it, and it’s great. It just keeps going, culminating in an absolutely hilarious scene in which the characters all shout “Ahhhh!” at one another. That’s an absurd sentence, but the constant “ahhh”s are both amusing and indicative of the characters and plot. Tina creeps up to Bob due to her guilt, and he responds to that surprise in part because he’s been primed by his guilt. Linda screams in sympathy and general surprise. Then Louise comes tearing in as if she’s been waiting her whole life for the whole family to start screaming, and Gene’s almost as prepared, bringing a prop along. This show does not get better than that scene.
“Tina-rannosaurus Wrecks” is also well-served by casting Bob Odenkirk as the Belcher’s corrupt insurance salesman. He does a perfect job of conveying the right amount of oddness in his jovial line readings so that his heel turn later through the episode isn’t a total surprise. After a few lackluster guest spots from funny people this season (Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Paul F. Tompkins), this one, like Aziz Ansari’s turn earlier this year, comes from a character I’d love to see again.
This all adds up to an episode that got everything right, and when that’s combined with two hilarious scenes and some better-than-normal character work, you have one of the best episodes Bob’s Burgers has done… although it may have the worst title of the series.
- “You’re so honest, who raised you?” “I don’t know.” “It was me.”
- Wigs! Wigs! Wigs! (and also socks) says the sign next door. With a buy-one-wig get-one-sock deal no less.
- “And two buns! Go go go!” “Take that, po-po!” Louise and Gene’s little side plot use just enough to maintain their jokes and energy in an episode built around Bob and Tina.
- “Can you believe he was poisoned with a shovel!?”