The phrase “firing on all cylinders” can be complicated when relating it to a TV show. For that to be possible, all stories A, B, C, or otherwise must complement, affect, and nourish one another to keep the engine running smoothly. Many times one can forgive a lackluster C-story for an excellent A-story and vice versa. However, the concept of containing all characters to one event can make interweaving stories more dependent on one another. The Office particularly strived for this (“Casino Night,” anyone?). “Mazel-Tina” is another great example of the event episode. This is not, of course, Bob’s Burgers’ first time keeping its characters in a single location. Whether it’s Mr. Fischoeder’s house or a cruise line, Loren Bouchard and the gang always come up with great new places for their characters to just be themselves. “Mazel-Tina” gives the Belchers the unfortunate opportunity to cater for Tammy’s bat mitzvah after Tina learns she is not invited.
Tammy is the worst, and I love that about her. In fact, many characters from Tina’s class other than Tina usually bother me. Zeke is my everyday reminder that I’ll probably never watch King of the Hill. The phrase “love to hate” does come to mind, but they all just perpetuate Tina’s worthiness of the audience’s love. Teenagers nine times out of ten can be a bit annoying. Not Tina. She wants so badly to be loved by her peers that they can easily shake her innocent moral code. Tammy has everything Tina wishes she could have, but she is nothing Tina hopes to be. She likes pleasing the party, even if it’s not hers. She even gets a bit carried away when Tammy goes missing. I never knew any Jewish kids when I was 13, so I never went to a Bar Mitzvah, and Confirmation, the closest thing to a Catholic equivalent, was a family gathering rather than something worth of reception hall rentals. I can only imagine the envy Tina would have seeing another girl get that kind of spotlight.
That’s where Louise comes in. Keep in mind I watched The Walking Dead right before Bob’s Burgers (for the last time, but more on that later), but Louise’s sacrifice move in “Mazel-Tina” nearly choked me up for a moment. No one in this family would dare see something bad befall Tina. That’s why Bob and Linda don’t drag her out of someone else’s spotlight. Hell, that’s why the whole family is there in the first place. Yes, everyone develops their own agency over time, but none of them are meant to destroy Tina’s dreams. Gene will keep the party going with uncooked sliders if he has to.
Louise’s antics were in a whole new form tonight. She’s always lived by a kind of vigilante code, but her banter with Janet was just poetry. Janet, Tammy’s event coordinator, doesn’t deserve to be the woman with a clipboard. Louise is quick to act, and Janet stomps off faster than you can say “I’m listening to the voices in my mind head.” Like so many bit characters, Janet deserves to come back on this show again and again. Where’s Regular-Sized Rudy been lately, by the way?
There’s something fundamental about these characters, and he same goes for Tammy’s parents. Within a line of dialogue from each of them, their entire parenting approach is drawn out. We know everything we need to know about them from an exchange about woman’s perfume. Tina had center stage. Louise got up to some maniacal antics. Gene got the general public to believe something completely false. Bob and Linda bonded over their love of food. New characters were introduced to add to the growing canon. Burgers were served. Tonight, Bob’s Burgers fired on all cylinders.