Bob’s Burgers S10E03: “Motor, She Boat”

Episode Grade: B+

Compared to most other children in animated sit-coms, the characterization of the Belcher kids is heavily tied to their ages. Where the children of The Simpsons, South Park, or any of the MacFarlane shows could probably be aged up or down without significantly altering their characters, Tina, Gene, and Louise’s identities are heavily informed by where they sit in that grey area that separates childhood from adolescence. In this way, the show most closely resembles King Of The Hill, which got a fair amount of mileage out of Bobby, Connie, and Joseph being in the process of growing up. This can be tricky territory for a show to navigate, as it implies change that a set-in-time, non-serialized show can’t really portray.  King Of The Hill attempted to address this by overhauling Joseph between seasons, a move I’d argue didn’t really work, though I respect the attempt. Bob’s is in a tougher position since, especially at this point in its life-cycle, the kids are way more central to the show than Joseph, Connie, or even Bobby were to KOTH. This means they have to find way to portray the kids growing up in a way that doesn’t fundamentally alter them, and thus the show.

Both plots addressed this potentially thorny issue tonight, and both succeeded, albeit to differing degrees. It comes as no surprise that Bob and Tina’s a-plot turned out so well, since the writing staff could probably do a decent Bob and Tina episode in their sleep at this point. At its core, it revolved around two realizations for Tina that I think most people who were once thirteen can relate to. First, dad’s not perfect. I mean, really not perfect. How exactly can a man be so bad with tape? Still, realization two: he’s doing the best he can. Honestly, “Not perfect, but doing the best he can” is about as good a one-sentence description of Bob as you could ask for. He can’t tape, but he loves his kids and will always have their back, even if it means uncovering Thundergirl cardboard boat conspiracies.

Meanwhile, the b-plot flips the script slightly by putting the realization on the parent’s side. Well, sort of. Linda’s advanced denial and refusal to accept that Gene and Louise aren’t the little kids they used to be was amusing, but it felt like that arc was heading towards a resolution we never got. This was the rare b-plot that I thought would have been better off as an a-plot of another episode, where it could’ve had more room to develop and had a better ending. It wasn’t bad for what it was, and the firehouse scenes provided a lot of the episodes biggest laughs, but it was hard to shake the sense it could’ve been better.

Overall, this was another solid outing that continues the mini hot streak Bob’s Burgers has been on since returning.

Waffcicles:

  • Storefront: Put The Lotion In The Mask-et Day Spa
  • Exterminator: Are You There, Bug? It’s Me, Margaret.
  • I remember my last cardboard boat race. Just kidding. I did normal stuff when I was a kid.” Doubtful, Linda.
  • Troop 257 were fun in their return, even if their menace was dialed down for plot purposes this time around.
  • All along, I was like ‘You were born bad’, but it’s not, it’s the nurturing!” Best Louise line in a long time.
  • “Hey, you’ve got other kids, right?” Harley, keeping things in perspective.
  • Part of me was hoping Louise would start the fire that got them out of the firehouse, but we’re probably several seasons removed from that version of Louise.
  • Special props go out to the credits dance number, set to the immortal “Hot, Hot, Hot” by Buster Poindexter.