“Bob’s Burgers” review: “Christmas in the Car”


Starting after the holiday break (you know, except for the following column), new Heave recruit Matt Brassil will be talking Bob’s Burgers every Monday. 

At a time of year where most shows have gone on hiatus, a strong handful vowed to keep audiences attentive for one more Sunday. For the TV addict, this is the leftover clump of substance in the proverbial stash. It’s a pleasant surprise time was not necessarily budgeted for, but, boy, is it worth it.

Hello, my name is Matt Brassil and I hope that metaphor is the first of many I will bring to Heave as I cover my guiltless pleasure: Bob’s Burgers.

Officially the highest rated TV show amongst the lowest income bracket of America, Bob’s Burgers is a brand of strange that is hard to pass up. An example? This week’s Christmas episode is as good a jumping-on point as any.

Many TV families will be reviewed as “a family who is like us.” Although this claim can hold some truth, holiday episodes typically reign as an exception. The holiday takes precedent over the characters. Now three and a half seasons deep, Bob and the Belcher family have made it clear that they are a unit who love each other. The true meaning of Christmas is not lost on them. Their problem is affording all the jingle bells and whistles. They don’t want to have the best Christmas. They just want Christmas, even if it’s in the car.

Linda (a.k.a Mama Belcher) overzealously buys a Christmas tree the day after Halloween to get in the spirit. Three weeks later, the inevitable happens and the tree is completely dead. Not to be outdone by Mother Nature, Linda buys another right away. Just like clockwork, another three weeks kill the tree right on Christmas Eve. This sends the Belchers out to buy a tree from the slightest of pickings. Some classic miscommunication between child and father leads to a near-run in with a giant candy cane truck (“Finally, a truck you can lick.” – Gene). The incident plays out like something out of the movie Joy Ride , as the truck follows the Belcher car all over country roads.

Have I freaked you out? Don’t worry; the animated equivalent of Bobcat Goldthwait is behind the wheel (Goldthwait actually voices the character).  “Oh, you look like that?” Bob remarks as Gary the truck driver exits his vehicle.  Bob’s Burgers has a way of introducing bit characters that grab audience attention immediately. Bob’s Burgers subtly builds its universe of characters who’re both in and out of the background from week to week. Poor Gary just wants a Christmas, too.

Not convinced? Well do I have a perfect B-story to share! Teddy, Bob’s #1 customer, is rarely someone on which the show fixates. He will be in the restaurant for a one-liner and return to his meal. He is one of the most innocent, kind-hearted characters on TV right now. He’s Norm with the wind still blowing through his wings. So when the kids have a booby trap set for Santa and Bob needs the ham in his oven to be turned off, the stage is in place for jolly old Teddy to be ziptied to the Belcher’s fridge.  And the thing Teddy worries about? Bob hasn’t opened his Christmas card yet.

There’s a balance of humor and suspense that manages to stay without the realm of an animated TV show that isn’t maliciously killing dogs. Bob’s Burgers continues to be refreshing in its approachability for family audiences. If you missed this episode, hop on the computer, bake yourself a Dutch baby, and you will be in stitches.