As a critic of Bob’s Burgers, I am trying to accomplish two things. First, I want to convince you that there is a sublime half hour of television hiding every Sunday amongst the addictive hourlong dramas. The second thing is my breaking down of the quality of each episode and overall character development. Yet the first episodes I’ve written for all you loyal HEAVEhoers (just trying it on…) barely dabbled in the heart of the show: Tina. Tina Belcher has been described as many things. Tina is us, they say. Tina is relatable. Tina is a sex-crazed maniac hell-bent on making Jimmy Pesto Jr. her slave of lust. You know, the usual.
When we last visited the star-crossed lovers from warring families (the Pestos run the pizzeria across the street), Tina bit off more than she could chew trying to swing a devil’s makeout with Jimmy and new boy Josh. It put the kids on the rocks a bit, but Tina has never seen a butt like Jimmy’s (her words not mine). An opportunity to rekindle the magic comes in the very literal form of the Young Magician’s Fair. Jimmy Jr., whose urge to dance is unmatched, takes the festival as an opportunity for his showmanship. Tina runs to his side in order to be his assistant. The only problem is that Jimmy Jr. is bad at magic.
Tina is an independent young woman. She’s reminded us time after time. She has a hard time biting her tongue when her sort-of beau is in over his head. There’s nothing wrong with trying to better Jimmy Jr., but Tina wants to make him into the best. She sees all these greater steps he could be taking, but all that is great about Tina as a person currently hinders her as a teenager. She has to be patient before her award-winning personality starts to marvel others. The more child-centric Bob’s Burgers gets, the more flowing the writing becomes.
Sometimes one can think in the animated TV series world that some characters cannot recur based on voice talent. For example, I was pleasantly surprised to see Tammy (voiced by the hilarious Jenny Slate) again after a season-long absence. She plays the perfect rival to Tina in her lack of respect for the rules. The 30 Rock line “not many of you watched, but we got paid anyway” comes to mind. Bob’s Burgers does not have Dan Castellaneta to provide dozens of characters, but in a sense, that is a secret strength of the show.
Again, this was an episode about magicians. Magicians! Magicians are the perfect kind of niche “professionals” Bob Belcher and company continuously attract. If it pays less than $30,000 salary and parents don’t take pride in it, it is a Bob’s Burgers job. Bob himself does not fit into this world. His talent is beyond fry cook level, but his other skills will always stunt him. So it is no surprise that Bob’s B-story involving a magician’s curse is such a delight. He can never have just a regular case of the Mondays; it is always the Mondays with a bank heist or a career-threatening bet.
I found some solace in the fact that this episode was on in the L.A. café I was having a nice Mexican dinner in. Not sure what that says about the show, but hey, we can talk about it. Of course, last night was about the stars and the Hollywood Foreign Press. The Globes took over most of my night, but that half hour I got to mute it for Burgers certainly made my multimedia evening.
My girlfriend sat through this episode with me. She laughed when Bob actually licked peppercorn meat and did not anticipate the spice. We have all been there. Relatable comedy, people. Relatable cartoon comedy.