Bob’s Burgers is back, for yet another holiday special. Though there’s about a month and a half until Christmas, the Belchers get to enjoy the yuletide spirit a little earlier than everyone else. Christmas episodes have not been traditionally very effective for Bob’s Burgers. Will this one be any different? This year, the Belcher kids get into an altercation with a mall Santa that leads to threats from said Santa to report their bad behavior to the big boss. In an attempt to thwart their designation on the naughty list, Louise rallies her siblings to write and perform an ice-bound song and dance show for the mall santa. A “nice-capade,” if you will.
Here are some thoughts.
1. Really? Three holidays in a row?
I’m confused as to why this is happening. Halloween (a great episode), followed by Thanksgiving (a “meh” episode), and now a Christmas episode over a month early. It seems odd the way the show is doling out these holidays. My guess is that the show is going on hiatus over the holidays. Why else would they put the holiday episodes so far ahead of schedule? That’s a real bummer if it’s true, though. That would mean no Bob’s Burgers until the after the New Year.
2. Remember Bob’s conversation with Tina about Santa in Christmas in the Car?
This is a question for super fans of the show (of which I am one). Back, I think, two seasons ago, the family ends up having to spend Christmas in their car so they don’t get run over by a seemingly crazy candy cane-truck driver. At one point, Bob has a veiled conversation with Tina about how silly it is that Gene and Louise think they can trap Santa, the implication being that he’s trying to suss out if Tina still actually believes in Santa. I don’t think it was fully clarified in that episode if she does think that, but the way she acts throughout this episode makes me think that she has actually outgrown that part of her life. She does not seem invested in Louise’s plan at all.
3. Bob is so patient with the insults his kids dole out
At one point, Gene says Bob has “weird grizzly hands.” Bob ignores it. There are so many times that the kids make fun of the way Bob looks, or acts, or smells, and he just lets it wash over him. In the early seasons, he seemed a lot less patient with the kids than he is now. I guess he’s grown a lot as a father. Although not literally. All the characters have been the same age for six years.
4. Tina’s horseshoe crab story is great
When Louise prods her siblings to remember nice things they had done that year, Tina a recounts an anecdote of when she was walking along the beach and came across a horseshoe crab on it’s back. She flipped it over and sent it back into the ocean. Only every time she tells the story, it get less impressive. She didn’t send it back into the ocean, she more like nudged it towards the water. Okay, she kicked it into the water. And one of it’s legs came off. Poor Tina. Always trying to good. Always failing.
5. Calvin and Felix Fischoeder’s routine
Mr. Fischoeder says the kids can use the ice skating rink at the mall, but only if him and his brother get to do a warm-up act, with Calvin singing and Felix skating/dancing around him. “How suggestive can the dancing be?” Calvin asks Louise. “Keep it PG-13.” “Alright,” he says. “I’ll reign him in.” I love the relationship between the two of them. Although I’m not sure why the Belchers are okay with hanging out with Felix when he literally tried to kill them at the end of last season. Or was it the season before?
6. The store puns is one of my favorite running jokes
The mall Santa gets up to get his nephew a present, meaning he’ll miss the show the kids were going to put on for him. So Bob and Linda run around the mall looking for him and finally find him at a fudge store called “The Fudge-itive.” It never ceases to amaze me how many different puns the writers can come up with for the stores. And they never fail to make me giggle.
7. The “Teddy is Jewish” joke really fell flat
He joined a Jewish hockey league called “The Mighty Shmucks.” And that’s about the end of that joke. They make references to it here and there, mainly the fact that Teddy isn’t Jewish, but it never gets any farther than that. Which is too bad, really. There was probably some great comedy to mine in that set-up.
8. Kristen Schaal has a good voice
After Gene and Tina sing their songs about how nice they’ve been this year, Louise takes up the mic to enumerate her many kind exploits throughout the year. But then she catches a glimpse of her reflection in the ice and realizes she’s gone out of control. So she says to Santa to please bring Gene and Tina presents this year, but not her. She doesn’t deserve any. That was sweet, but the real take away from that is listening to Kristen Schaal sing. She has an absolutely lovely singing voice. I don’t think it’s been on display before, but I hope they come back to it eventually.
9. That was a nice ending for Louise
Basically every Louise-centric episode ends with her realizing that she’s been selfish and a little bit crazy and has thrown her siblings under the bus (think of the Ambergris episode). And while I’d like to see a little variation with the Louise plots, it was actually very sweet to see her come to the realization on her own. And it was even better to see Santa warm to her and tell her this: “What I see in you is a leader, somebody who really struggles between what is right and wrong. The world needs more people like you.” It was an out of left field moment of real pathos and underscored a very important character trait for Louise: yes, she’s diabolical. But not as diabolical as she’d like the world to think. And she really, really loves her family.
10. I’m getting really concerned about this season
So far, this season has had one really stand out episode. The rest have been decent to downright bad. I know Bob’s Burgers can do better than it has been doing. So far, the writing has been uninspired, lazy, or re-treads, for the most part. After having three holiday specials in a row and with the track record of the show so far this season, I’m getting a little concerned. What we need is another crazy Wagstaff based story, like last seasons detention episode. Or a wacky family adventure episode, like Seaplane. Or an episode with the family rallying against Jimmy Pesto, or Hugo, or Mr. Fischoeder. It’s been a low stakes season. Let’s see if we can’t ratchet it up a bit.
Tags: bob's burgers, Christmas, Fox, h jon benjamin, nice capades