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

Bob’s Burgers: “Full Bars”

Illustration for article titled Bob’s Burgers: “Full Bars”

This is the first fall television season for which Bob’s Burgers has been live. That would seem to be irrelevant except for one important difference between the fall and the spring: holiday episodes. More specifically, a Halloween episode, because most of those other holidays do very little to warm this cynical critic’s heart (sorry, TV Club Advent Calendar; I wrote the one about poop). This is because Halloween is comedy gold.

The visual palette for a TV show is important, and Halloween alters it with its costumes. It’s easy to pick up on in cartoons, because their characters are almost always drawn in the same fashion each week, so any deviation is notable. But it’s still there in live-action shows. You don’t necessarily see it until there’s something drastic, like Community’s Britta in a squirrel costume. But sometimes, those drastic changes can reveal important aspects of characters’ personalities, in the same way that donning a mask can help non-TV people perform and reveal different parts of themselves. It’s a convenient way to do something new with the characters, both externally and internally.

Or, to put it in a simpler terms: The Bob’s Burgers kids get dressed up in Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating on the rich people island. If that’s not a fine premise for an episode of this show, I don’t know what is. I mean, it has Gene dressed as “Queen Latifah from her U.N.I.T.Y. Phase.” Louise and Tina, dressed as Edward Scissorhands and a Mommy Mummy, are still basically Louise and Tina. Gene, on the other hand, feels just slightly different. Maybe it’s just how he looks, maybe it’s a nudge from the writers, maybe it’s a few lucky lines, or maybe it’s projection on my end, but Gene’s a little more free. He’s happy and witty (in his own way) and has most of the episode’s best lines, like “What just happened!? How does this not topple your economy!?” when given full chocolate bars.

The kids get those full bars when, trick-or-treating alone for the first time, they get dragged by Louise to King’s Island, where they believe that the candy will be better. They’re right, but at what cost? A bunch of teenaged boys start to chase the trick-or-treaters as part of a tradition called “Hell Hunt.” This shifts the episode into an 80s adventure movie mode, starting with The Warriors. It’s fun, but it’s a little predictable, especially given that Bob’s Burgers has gone to this well before. Still, giving the kids their own adventure is never really a bad thing, especially when it involves Louise using a cell phone to control teenaged boys.

On the other hand, the parents’ plot never comes together. Bob and Linda end up at Teddy’s Halloween party. I theoretically like the idea of giving the ever-present, rarely-examined Teddy more of a role, but in practice, he’s much less funny. His guinea pig ends up dead at his Halloween party, which turns the story into a murder mystery. But instead of utilizing that format for character development and jokes based on all the people there, it’s mostly Teddy being somewhat crazy and Bob itching to leave, and it ends up slightly disappointing, given the potential for greatness that a Halloween murder mystery should have. Still, the entire episode has a can’t-miss premise, and it doesn’t miss.

Stray observations:

  • I’d Hit That Boxing Gym
  • “We’re born alone, we die alone, and in between, we trick-or-treat alone.”
  • “Mmmm. Taco on the toilet. Why doesn’t everyone do this? AGHHH!” wins the best line of the evening.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but “killing someone’s beloved pet” is a pretty high degree of difficulty for a comedy to cross. It could have been worse, but I’m not sure why’d you go there for a B-plot.