Friday, January 10, 2014

"Brokedown Merry-Go-Round" Show of the Week: Bob's Burgers, "Slumber Party"

Jou wanna play rough? H'ok!
Every Friday in "'Brokedown Merry-Go-Round' Show of the Week," I discuss the week's best first-run animated series episode I saw. "Brokedown Merry-Go-Round," a two-hour block of original score tracks from animated shows or movies, airs weekdays at 2pm Pacific on AFOS.

I've said (exactly a year ago yesterday, in fact) that the kid characters are usually the best part of Bob's Burgers because they talk and act less like typically precocious sitcom kids and more like real kids, even though they're voiced by adults. But "Slumber Party" is a rare occasion where I actually find the subplot without the kids to be the more interesting half of the episode, although there are lots of funny lines (see the memorable quotes) during the titular kids' slumber party, which Linda throws at the Belchers' home to introduce a reluctant Louise to her idea of childhood fun (and which Louise proceeds to sabotage like a boss, hence the Scarface-inspired cover art for the "Slumber Party" table read script).

This is how I react too when my remote lands on The View.
In the B-story, which is intertwined quite well with the A-story, Linda, who's captivated by the ongoing drama between the raccoons that root around the trash outside the apartment, ropes Bob and Teddy into helping her trap a raccoon she calls "El Diablo" so that Diablo will stop hassling the raccoon she's become fondest of, "Little King Trashmouth." Sure, the B-story sounds very weird and filler-rific, but it's worth it for Teddy's presence, H. Jon Benjamin's dry delivery of Bob's reactions to Linda and Teddy's ideas ("Ugh, guys, I don't wanna make a burger for a raccoon") and the great sight gag of Bob walking around with braided hair. His braids are the result of a styling experiment by a slumber party attendee Louise can't stand to be in the same room with because of her unhealthy obsession with braiding everything at school, including the bristles on the janitor's mops.

Maybe my preference for the B-story is because it's a relief from the shoutiness of Louise, Gene and the slumber party girls, a common complaint about the Bob's Burgers characters from viewers who find it difficult to warm up to the show. It's also a gripe that has lately been starting to make some sense to me. Because if the slightly more reserved characters like Bob, Tina and Teddy weren't around to offset the shoutiness of Louise, Gene and Linda, Bob's Burgers would be a meal I'd send back.

Stray observations/memorable quotes:
* Tina chooses a rain poncho for the slumber party fashion show. She looks like a third member of The Doppelgangaz.

Linda does her tribute to Maria Bello from that failed reboot of Prime Suspect.
* Louise, who can't go anywhere without her pink bunny-ear hat, has never been seen on the show without her head covered. My favorite freeze-frame gag in "Slumber Party" is the compilation of baby pics of Tina, Gene and Louise on one of the apartment walls, and of course, baby Louise is wearing an earless precursor to her bunny-ear hat.

She must be bald under that hat. She's going for a Michael Bolton, 'I got a lot of hair for a bald person and if I wear it like this, you won't notice'-type thing.
* Tina, telling Gene how many slumber parties she's been to: "One and a half. I fell asleep at a regular birthday party. I'm counting that."

* Gene, excited about Linda's tie-dyeing portion of the slumber party: "Gimme a shirt! I'm gonna make the psychedelic crop top of my dreams!"

* "How about me, Mom? What's my angle?" "Well, Tina, you're the older sister. You're over all this stuff. You wanna go to the mall with your friends and beep each other on your beepers."

* "Gene, is this your first time as a human shield?" "Yeah." "It's my third time. You're doing great." "Thank you."

* "I'm not gonna tell anybody. I'm no narc. Make fun of you for wetting the bed? What is this, the '90s?"

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