Episode Grade: B
Without going back and regrading every episode, I would venture to say the Valentine’s Day is the holiday that most consistently produces classic Bob’s Burgers episodes (Halloween being a close second). Something about a day dedicated to romance, and all its attendant joys and frustrations, just brings out the best in a (generally) sweet, funny show. Another reliable set-up for Bob’s has been the three-part anthology format, wherein each of the kids tell a thematically related story that delves into each one’s weird, creative mind, with the added benefit of not being constrained by the show’s usual level of realism. Combining that subject matter with this set-up should be an easy home run, so I came into this episode with some pretty high expectations.
Probably a bit too high, honestly. This was a fine episode, but I found myself thinking of ways it could’ve been better, which I generally try not to do as I think we should judge episodes on what they do rather that what we wish they had done. That said, I was slightly underwhelmed by the kids’ stories this time around, which was a surprise given the show’s track record with these type of episodes. Part of the problem, I think, was that the kids all told the same story, rather than three individual ones. That is, if you weren’t really feeling Gene’s part, Tina and Louise’s probably wouldn’t do any more for you. This gave their combined story a bit of a repetitive feel, with each kid’s personality not coming through quite as strongly as they usually do in these episodes.
Don’t get me wrong, there was good stuff here (and this definitely has the feel of an episode I’ll enjoy more on re-watch). Gene’s part of the tale was as off-the-wall as you’d expect, a glimpse into the mind of a kid who’s consumed a lot of media but can never quite keep any of it straight. Tina’s was a bit slighter, but she still managed to work some of that funny, just shy of creepy Tina-sexuality into it. Louise’s part was even less substantial, but oddly in character, as she more or less abandoned the story to all but explicitly tell her parents to stop being stupid and make up already. As usual, Bob and Linda were mostly relegated to the framing story, though Bob’s commentary on the story was good for a lot of the episodes funniest moments (more on that below).
All in all, this was a fine late period Bob’s episode, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it could’ve, or even should’ve, been better. Just looking back to the last two Valentine’s episodes (“V for Valentine-detta” and the all-timer “Bob, Actually) shows that post-peak period Bob’s Burgers is still fully capable of producing great, even borderline classic episodes. Even this season has produced a few great ones, though more have fallen in to the “just very good” category. This is probably where the show is at this point in its run, but it’s still a little frustrating to see a good premise not fully taken advantage of when you know the show is still capable of doing so.
Piles of Dirty Laundry:
- Storefront: “Beverly Hills Cups: Expensive Cups”. Exterminator: “The Mouse that Jack Kill’t”. A rare win for the exterminator puns.
- If I’m judging the kids’ stories separately, it probably goes Gene>Tina>Louise, with the caveat that Louise was clearly less interested in telling a story than just wrapping everything up.
- “I’m never gonna be your Michael Bolton!” “You don’t even try!” “I grew my hair long once!”.
- I guess Bob wasn’t correcting anything in the kids’ story that isn’t fairly common knowledge, but his growing annoyance as the story went on had me wondering: is Bob secretly an anglophile? Because that idea kind of amuses me.
- “Turn left up here, where David Bowie and Mick Jagger once danced in the street, then turn right here, where Sir Ian McKellen once farted.” I was toying with giving this one a B-, but this line is probably worth bumping it up by itself. Just about a perfect Gene joke.
- The “seamen”/”semen” joke might be the bluest this show has worked in awhile, but what can I say? Puns and bodily functions are just funny.
- She may not have had the purest of motives, but I like how it was Louise who was able to get Bob and Linda to realize they were both being stupid, and they needed to apologize to each other. Seems somewhat in line with Louise’s slowly growing emotional maturity.