Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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

Left on the cutting room floor was Bob singing to all 16 minutes of 'Love to Love You Baby.'
Donna Summer once guest-starred as Steve Urkel's aunt. We never saw Urkel's parents though. I think Urkel made them up and he's actually an exiled Time Lord. It explains why the motherfucker is able to build time machines and robots.
Every Friday in "'Brokedown Merry-Go-Round' Show of the Week," I discuss the week's best first-run animated series episode I saw. This week, due to the holiday weekend, this is being posted on Wednesday. "Brokedown Merry-Go-Round," a two-hour block of original score tracks from animated shows or movies, airs weekdays at 2pm Pacific on AFOS.

Bob's Burgers' Thanksgiving episodes have been my favorite Thanksgiving episodes of any current sitcom--what other show comes up with images of a giant headless turkey reenacting My Neighbor Totoro or live poultry attacking people to the tune of Donna Summer?--and each one of those episodes, including this year's "Dawn of the Peck," has been penned by Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux, writers of such standout Bob's Burgers episodes as "Art Crawl," "Boyz 4 Now" and "World Wharf II." Last year's "Turkey in a Can" took the form of a whodunit, with the mystery of "Who's been repeatedly dumping the family's turkeys into the toilet?" cleverly serving as the framework for an oddly affecting story about Bob's anxiety over Tina growing up too fast.

That Belcher turkey mystery is one of many examples of both how much Bob's Burgers resembles The Cosby Show in its improvised moments and its characters' love of playing pretend and why it's actually a better sitcom than The Cosby Show. Bob's Burgers and the underrated Bernie Mac Show will stand the test of time for me better than The Cosby Show--and this was way before recent headlines forever ruined our enjoyment of The Cosby Show--because The Cosby Show's requirement that "Dad's always right" caused that show to lose some steam after a couple of seasons (and "Dad's always right" makes so much sense now, due to Cosby's history of power trips and his need for control), much like how Gene Roddenberry's edict that there should be no conflict between the crew members really hamstrung the storytelling for the first couple of seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Neither Bob's Burgers nor Bernie are afraid to let Dad be imperfect--or get crazy drunk.

"Turkey in a Can" offered us Bob in an altered state via allergy medicine, a follow-up to absinthe's effects on Bob in "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal," and hopped-up-on-some-shit Bob--or drunk Bob--always results in an above-average Bob's Burgers episode. Perhaps taking note of that, the Molyneux sisters get him in a less-than-sober state again for the third consecutive Thanksgiving episode in a row. This time, whiskey causes Bob--who's chosen to skip the 1st Annual Fischoeder Turk-tacular Turkey Town Festival and Turkey Trot and stay at home to prepare dinner--to both have angsty conversations with a turkey baster (I bet that part of the Molyneuxs' script just says, "[Let Jon ad-lib here.]") and get his Disco Stu on to Donna Summer's "Dim All the Lights." The presence of "Dim All the Lights" automatically makes "Dawn of the Peck" the "Brokedown Merry-Go-Round" Show of the Week. I'm glad "Dawn of the Peck" went with that track and not the overplayed "Hot Stuff."

But it's not just "Dim All the Lights" that makes this another enjoyable Bob's Burgers Thanksgiving episode. Both the annual tradition of Bob ending up drunk or high on his favorite holiday and Linda, Teddy and the kids' situation in "Dawn of the Peck" really drive home how irreverent and fun Bob's Burgers' annual take on this often way-too-sentimentally-marketed holiday can be. While Bob's getting crunk and rediscovering Donna Summer, the festival at the Wonder Wharf goes awry when the 500 turkeys, chicken, ducks and geese Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) and his brother Felix (Zach Galifianakis) brought in for the running of the turkeys go on a rampage and chase after Linda, Teddy and the other participants. So "Dawn of the Peck" takes the form of a horror movie that's basically The Birds, but with turkeys that can't fly and no gore at all. Bob's finger injury in "The Kids Run the Restaurant" was way more graphic.

Despite containing as much blood as a Hallmark Channel production of From Dusk Till Dawn, this Thanksgiving episode that's more like a Halloween episode is a brilliant idea and perhaps the first of its kind. Add lots of H. Jon Benjamin trying to sing falsetto (speaking of which, Bob's bizarre "love is in control" kitchen song during the end credits is less Donna Summer and more "Girlfriend Is Better" by Talking Heads), as well as a nice moment where Regular Sized Rudy (Brian Huskey, a highlight of the cast of the recently cancelled Selfie), the frailest of the Wagstaff school kids, gets the chance to be heroic for once, during a Wonder Wharf spinning ride sequence that has to be one of the most complicated action sequences Bento Box ever animated for this show, and you have another winner from the Molyneuxs, who really ought to be writing the follow-up to Jurassic World if this comedy thing doesn't work out.

Wow, James Marsden is in really bad shape these days.

Memorable quotes:
* "I just wanted to see the turkeys. I worked on a turkey ranch one summer, when I was 14. I learned a lot about life. And a lot about turkey feces."

* "We're gonna die like we were born. Spinning around in an egg!"

* Mickey (Bill Hader): "Oh, shoot. I threw the key into the ocean... I didn't want the birds to get it. We can't let this technology fall into their hands."

Someone ought to calm Tina down and tell her to go to her happy place, which is probably an erotic court full of zombie basketball players.

* Linda: "Are you okay, my babies?" Tina: "Yep, I'm probably always going to move in little circles like this though."

* "Oh, hello, uh, turkey baster. How-how-how are you? Good, good. Uh, yeah, good. I'm-I'm doing really good. Yeah... That's funny, I was just, uh... I was... I was... just talking about you. Uh, well, uh, it was good to see you. I should get back to... Yeah, it was... [Laughs.] It was nice to see you. You look great. [Tries to close the drawer.] What? I-I-I-I-I see you, okay? You-you've made your point. [Tries to close the drawer again.] Fine. [Takes the turkey baster out of the drawer and places it on the counter.] Is this what you want? A-Are you happy now? Yeah, yeah? That good? Do you want it to come out? You want to do this right now? You want to do this right now? That's a cl... that's classic! That's classic you, turkey baster! Classic you! Not fitting in the drawer. Deliberately not! [Laughs.] That's great! Oh, come on, don't look at me like that, turkey baster! Don't look at me like that! I... I didn't want this! You think I wanted this? But I didn't! I didn't. This isn't what I wanted. I-I never wanted to be apart from you. It was all an act. It was... it was a lie. [Sniffles.] Oh God. That's so much snot. You know what? I'm gonna do it. You're right, turkey baster. I'm Bob. I make dinner. It's not too late. The grocery store's open for another hour. We can still do this. Let's go! Let's go! Get up! Get... I can't get... Oh my God! I... Uhhhh! Let's get up, drunk! I am dizzy. I'm really dizzy. Oh my God. I gotta sit down. Give us... give us a minute."

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