Episode Grade: B+/A-
“You’re the secret weapon of this broken down old pile of crap!”
I was sorely tempted to try and frame this episode as Bob’s Burgers’ coming to the defense of its resident handyman/best customer. Teddy’s had an uneven past couple of seasons, with certain episodes ramping the character up to the point of obnoxiousness, while others struggled to find any place for him at all. Recently, I’ve been getting the sense (from comments here and elsewhere) that there’s a segment of fans that are more of less done with him at this point. While I see the argument based on how he’s been used lately, Teddy as his best is still a valuable part of the show, and an episode reminding us of that fact would be most welcome at this point.
Ultimately though, that wouldn’t be a honest assessment of what “The Handyman Can” really is. What have here is the latest installment in the “Kids Tell Stories” anthology series Bob’s has returned to about once a season, going back to Season Four’s “The Frond Files”. Or to put it another way, this is “The Gayle Tales” with Teddy instead of Gayle. As such, this isn’t an episode that needs to be judged by it’s heartwarming message or character development. No, all these episodes need to do is set up a premise, then trust the writing staff to get inside the kid’s heads and throw some vaguely related weirdness out there. Sometimes this works better than others (“Sliding Bobs” over “Bed, Bob, and Beyond”, for example), but overall their success rate is high.
We get off to an excellent start tonight with Louise’s opening story. I’ll be honest, a huge part of my enjoyment of this segment was how gobsmacked I was to see a Waterworld sequence in 2020 (Bob’s Burgers is the best), but the story did a great job incorporating Louise-touches (Logan as the bad guy, Rudy as the damsel in distress) into the overall purpose, which is basically an extended pep-talk for Uncle Teddy. Tina’s story didn’t quite hit the same bizarre highs (well, apart from one bit, which I’ll come back to), but her Up-Into Thin Air mashup did give us some time with the shore’s favorite boy-band, Boyz-4-Now, who even in her fantasy don’t seem to be getting along great. Last, Gene brings it home by combining Godzilla and Voltron (I think?) into a rousing action-adventure that revolves around farts, because of course it does.
Overall, no new ground was broken, no lessons were learned, but not every episode needs to do those things. A well-made animated sitcom can absolutely get over on just being funny, and when Bob’s Burgers is in the zone, there are few shows that can do that better.
- Storefront: Purple Vein Varicose Vein Surgery
- Exterminator: Hives Out Bee Removal
- Ok, so anyone want to talk about the beginning of Tina’s story? I don’t know if it’s just because Tina can eroticize literally any human interaction, but her versions of Teddy and Bob were totally flirting, right? Is Tina a Bob/Teddy shipper? So many questions…
- Also, cutting from that to Jimmy Jr. and Zeke outside felt… intentional.
- A common feature of these anthology episodes that doesn’t get mentioned enough is how well Bob and Linda are used within the kids’ stories. Everything they do or say makes sense when you consider which of their kids is telling that particular story.
- A couple callbacks tonight: apart from Reggie’s gazebo (which, if it still leaks, no wonder the electrical work was risky), we had Gene’s shellfish allergy. There were probably more, anyone catch any?
- Best visual gag: Mort’s coffin-boat.
- “You’re not gaze-bros yet?” “No Gene, we are not gaze-bros yet.”