Episode Grade: B
“Sometimes I get to do what I want to do!”
“No, you don’t! Ever!”
“Pinch him, kids!”
As the ‘straight man’, or at least the closest thing to, in a family of five impulsive weirdos (six if you count Teddy, which I do), Bob has the tendency to get a little steamrolled. Granted, he is perfectly capable of insane flights of fancy himself, but more often Linda or the kids will provide the spark of oddness that drives an episode, with Bob grudgingly playing along until he comes around for the final act. Bob’s Burgers‘ Thanksgiving episodes tend to magnify this, as they clearly juxtapose Bob’s desires (to cook a good meal for his family on his favorite holiday) against whatever weirdness is going on around him. Sometimes this can make for classic episodes (“An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” or “Dawn Of The Peck”, both all-timers) and sometimes it can seem unnecessarily cruel (“Gayle Makin’ Bob Sled”, a strong contender for the series’ worst episode). What’s consistent though is that Bob loves his family, and will end up doing what it takes to make them happy.
Which is really the crux of this episode. Maybe it’s the carnivore in me, but I wasn’t really feeling this episode until about halfway through. Let the bird be someone’s dinner (I was kind of rooting for the coyotes), and let Bob get his damn cranberries. It made sense that Tina would take up the cause of Drew P. Neck’s fraudulent pardon, but Louise’s mid-episode shift into emotional investment felt forced (Gene frankly seemed to barely be paying attention, which was perfectly in character). Linda’s crazy seemed to be dialed up a little farther than normal, which can become grating if not used carefully. If all this were really over the turkey, this wouldn’t be much of an episode (amusing turns from Marcia and the Deputy Mayor aside).
In the end though, it’s not about the turkey. It’s about Bob and the fact that he loves his strange, annoying, exhausting family. If sometimes that means kidnapping a turkey, setting it free, saving it from coyotes, then rehoming it, then he’ll do it. Not gladly maybe, but he’ll do it. At least dinner wasn’t ruined this year.
- “Now I have to drive a turkey to a slaughterhouse because my career in politics is going great!” It could be worse, Marcia.
- “We’re having a good childhood.” I might be worried about Gene, if I thought he really understood sarcasm.
- Sometimes I wonder if the show will ever end up phasing out the store and exterminator names from the opening credits, kind of like how American Dad quit doing the newspaper gags. “Plymouth Jock- Old Time Athletic Wear” was pretty good, but “To Kill a Shocking Bug” felt weak.
- Two-Butted Goat! “Stand By Gene” is probably my favorite Bob’s episode, so any reminder of it is always great.