Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bob’s Burgers: “A River Runs Through Bob”

Illustration for article titled Bob’s Burgers: “A River Runs Through Bob”

Out of all the television shows that I missed over the summer break, I can confidently say that I missed Bob’s Burgers the most. It’s like sitcom comfort food (it’s probably no coincidence that burgers are my actual comfort food), because it always feel so nice and cozy to watch this adorable, bizarre family interact with each other in the adorable, bizarre way that they do. It’s something only the Belchers can pull off. It’s strange, it’s loud, it’s sweet, and it’s definitely funny. All of these elements were at play in this episode, yet it wasn’t Bob’s Burgers at its best.

Don’t get me wrong: I did like “A River Runs Through Bob.” I thought it was clever, I related to Tina, I clapped with delight at the song, and I laughed a bunch (and will probably laugh more the second time, when I watch with friends, because that’s always what happens). In that way, it was a typically good episode. However, there was also a total change of scenery, the absence of the restaurant, and an entire episode spent in near total isolation. It was funny, but it also threw me off. There were very few interactions outside of the family—I chuckled a bit at the confusing conversation with the campsite guard and Louise’s later post office knowledge—but mostly the absence of the restaurant regulars and the children’s peers made me realize how much I enjoy those silly bits. Still, none of this is totally bad; the family relationship is easily the best thing about Bob’s Burgers (especially the kinship between the children and the dynamic between the parents—both were done very well here), so it definitely had that going for it.

“A River Runs Through Bob” didn’t have the bells and whistles of a season premiere (it may have been one of those episodes left over from season three; I’m never quite sure how these seasons work anymore). The Belchers go camping because Tina missed her Thundergirl camping trip, but not everyone is into the idea. Louise claims she has bad knees, and Linda thinks they’re all going to die because they’re city dwellers. Bob is over-confident in his camping abilities—“I used to go camping, once”—and brings only the bare minimum of supplies, but luckily, they end up camping next to a huge RV with tons of stuff. It’s a storyline I’ve seen a few times before, but it’s saved by the fact that it soon goes off the rails. First, Bob’s insistence on camping the right way (no toiletries, catching his own food, etc.) quickly becomes his downfall when he gets food poisoning. Immediately after, Linda and Bob’s skinny dipping attempts go awry, and they get caught in the river’s current, dragged away from the rest of the family.

This is where “A River Runs Through Bob” starts to grow on me. It smartly splits up the Belcher clan into parents and children. The children, unsurprisingly, fare better than their parents. They steal supplies from the RV (including a helpful manual on how to survive the apocalypse), set up their own camp, and band together to find the rest of the family. Bob and Linda, however, quickly get lost, Linda starts crazily eating ants (I loved this), and they keep arguing. Even when they do get back to camp, the crazy RV couple tricks them, and it’s up to the Belcher children to save their parents—even though their method includes dumping a bee’s nest into the RV.

To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, and the return to the RV is where the show lost me again. I wasn’t a huge fan of the RV couple in general because their insanity didn’t seem to serve much purpose except for that beautiful version of “Everybody Dance Now.” “A River Runs Through Bob” was pretty funny and a nice welcome back to the show, but really, I’m just waiting to see the family out of the woods and back home.

Stray observations:

  • Linda really stepped up this episode and was clear MVP for chasing away those squirrels. I hope this season features a lot more Linda.
  • I also love that Linda has put some serious thought into the idea of Gene raised by wolves.
  • Biggest laugh of the night was also the last: Gene exclaiming “More underwear for me, then!”
  • Some of the Tina/Thundergirl stuff was nice, but her shift from Thundergirl to Anti-Thundergirl (because of Louise) and then right back to Thundergirl didn’t feel like recent Tina, if that makes sense.
  • That said, some of my favorite bits: “Consensual Birdwatching” as an activity, a helpful article explaining the eight different ways to hold hands (can I get the full text of this please?), and Tina worrying about what to wear diagonally across her chest.
  • This episode title is gross, and I love it.
  • “Wine helps me drink.” Oh, Linda, I understand you so well.