And we’re back. After two rather underwhelming episodes into the season, Bob’s Burgers has returned with panache. It’s Halloween and the the Belchers are doing something a little different this year. In an attempt to scare the supposedly un-scareable Louise, Bob and Linda set up their very own haunted house for the kids. But things start going strangely and the Belcher family might be in for more scares than they bargained for.
Here are some thoughts.
1. This episode has an amazing set-up
It’s pretty basic: Bob and Linda set up a haunted house to scare the kids, especially Louise. Going into the episode, it’s really unclear how it’s going to play out (although, if you thought about if for a few moments, it’s relatively clear what the narrative arc should be). Because it’s not clear how things are going to go, the episode plays a little bit like a horror movie. There are a lot of familiar elements, and you have a general sense of where it might go, but ultimately you’re not really sure how the plot will land. The device that Louise doesn’t get scared easily was a great “in” for the audience. Something we could hang onto and wait for.
2. Dr. Bobenstein made me laugh out loud
When the kids first enter the aggressively lame haunted house their folks set up, Linda (as some sort of Frankenstein’s Bride rip-off) leads the kids into the kitchen. And there is Dr. Bobenstein, which is just Bob in goggles, a lab coat, and an amazing purple afro wig. That image along with the voice H. Jon Benjamin chooses make for a genuinely surprising and funny moment.
3. Bob and Linda really, really love their kids
Without giving away the whole episode (yet), I can say that Linda and Bob put a lot of effort into this Halloween treat for their kids. It’s been shown over and over again that these parents love their children and will go to great lengths to make them happy. It’s always very touching for me when they go through a massive effort just to maybe get a smile or laugh (or in this case, scream) from their kids. Last Halloween episode, Bob and Linda spent all day making a dragon costume for their kids. Bob once broke into a museum with Louise to make her happy. He also once took a job as a cabbie that meant he worked about 20 hours a day just so Tina could have the party she wanted. These are good parents.
4. The Halloween episodes are some of the best of the series
And this is no exception. From the kids taking a ferry to the rich people’s island for a better Halloween, to Millie trapping the kids under a truck, the show has always been good about working with how much this family clearly loves Halloween.
5. I was surprised at the twists and turns of the plot
We start with Bob and Linda telling the kids they’ll be doing their own haunted house this year and I was instantly intrigued, because of the many possibilities of the set-up. And once they fail to illicit any scares from the kids, the kids decide to scare their parents. I thought, at first, that that was maybe going to be the plot for the rest of the episode. But that ended fairly quickly and the family decides to go home. Then it turns out they have a flat tire and that’s when things get pretty spooky. A weird old man with hedge clippers, a doll with sticks in it’s eyes, strange sounds from the basement. It seemed as if the family has stumbled across an actual haunted house! However…
6. I was not surprised about the reveal
The second I saw the man with the hedge trimmers, I knew there was a set-up. I wasn’t sure if it was Bob and Linda setting-up the kids or if there was some third party involved, but it was pretty clear that’s what was happening. There was no way the show was going to take a turn so dark out of nowhere. I mean, occultists? Ghosts? The show has flirted with the possibility of the supernatural before, but if the things happening to the family had been real, it would have blown the Bob’s Burgers world wide open. It would have been an incredibly bold move. But this is not a show known for it’s boldness.
7. This is the first episode that goes for straight-up scares
It did, however, do something that had never really been done before on the show. The writers clearly have a great affinity for the horror genre (there’s an extended Shining sequence in the second episode of the series), but they’ve never gone for out and out horror scares before. This episode was different. Though the stakes were inherently low, it was set-up like a mini horror flick. It was a blast seeing how the family would navigate through a situation like the one they were in. It continues the excellent tradition of putting the characters into various genre situations and seeing how they do.
8. Gene thanking Bob for his parenting is now one of my favorite moments of the series
At one point, the whole family is trapped in the bathroom. Gene, seemingly out of nowhere, says to Bob, “Dad, I think you’re doing a really good job of being our dad.” “Thank you, Gene.” “I feel like I’m having a really good childhood.” “Okay, thank you Gene.” “I mean not right now, but in general.” The whole exchange was hilarious in it’s timing, but also really touching. Watching Gene acknowledge to his dad that he thinks he’s doing a good job is really, really sweet. Those are the moments that hold this show together: little glimpses of seeing how deeply this family loves each other. Ugh, I’m getting teary over a cartoon.
9. BOYZ 4 NOW!!!
THEY HAVE A NEW HALLOWEEN SONG. It’s called, “I love you so much it’s scary.” And the music video is of all of them turning into monsters. Oh, and Louise still loves Boo Boo. What a great cap to a great episode.
10. This is the best episode of the season by far
I was starting to get nervous about this season. It’s not like Bob’s Burgers to have two duds in a row. But this episode reaffirms the show’s skill at putting it’s characters into situations that are hilarious and that make sense for them. I’m excited to see what they do for the Thanksgiving episode. Those are also some of the best of the series.
Tags: bob's burgers, Fox, h jon benjamin, halloween