Mar 25, 2014

TV Recap: Bob's Burgers - "Uncle Teddy"

Welcome to TV Recap, in which we look at modern shows and analyze them on an episode-to-episode basis. This one focuses on the cartoon sitcom Bob's Burgers, a very funny show that is capable of rivaling old school Simpsons in terms of irreverent humor and off the wall zaniness. With a cast of modern alternative comedian heroes, the story follows the Belchers as they run a burger joint. Join me as I take part in dissecting the show in its first full season. Check back on Tuesdays for the next exciting installment.

In a move that kind of makes sense, we're getting an episode where Teddy (Larry  Murphy) is finally stepping up from supporting character to an actual plot. As the title suggests, he is going to be getting involved with the Belchers in some way, even if it isn't quite as successful as some would hope. Then again, the joys of Teddy stem from his offbeat nature that leaves many people confused on what he's actually doing. He is competent, but not the most responsible person in the world. Also, it continues Bob's Burgers late season return to form with another great episode that pushes the dynamics and reinforces why the show has a lot of greatness in it.
The episode begins with Bob (Jon Benjamin) making plans with Linda (John Roberts) about going to a burger meet-up with people that he met online in a chat room. With his name being Burger Bob, he is excited to talk about recipes and etiquette in regards to making burgers. This leaves them with one dilemma: who is going to take care of the kids? The babysitter quit and they need a last resort desperately. That is when they decide to turn to the man who has always been there: Teddy. 
As Tina (Dan Mintz) is walking home, she runs into Jonas (Paul Rust), who is riding a moped and is delivering food to Bob's Burgers. She tries to flirt with him and his long hair only to imagine them riding off down the street, making the asphalt turn into a romantic visualization of their love. When he actually offers them a ride, she accepts and grabs on tight as they ride down to the restaurant. There they hang out with Teddy and get ready for a potential night of fun as they watch him clean out the drains.
At the burger meet-up, Bob and Linda see a room with all of the ovens and ingredients set up to make burgers. He is getting enthused just thinking about all of it, even if he feels that the jar of mayonnaise is a little too big. When he finally meets them, he gets a rude awakening that they all kind of hate him for making sarcastic remarks on the internet. He claims that they weren't meant to be insulting, yet the lack of tags regarding this cause him to become the hostile victim.
When Tina finally gets to Bob's Burgers, she looks over at Jonas and realizes that he has to go. She doesn't want him to. Jonas decides to invite people over to hang out instead. It doesn't work out and leaves them in despair.Tina decides to make burgers for the friends in order to keep them around. Meanwhile, Teddy is upstairs making burned marshmallows with Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal). They are enjoying the entire experience.When they discover that Tina has had people over that late at night, Teddy gets angry and kicks everyone out. Jonas tells Tina to meet them at the beach.
After a long day of dealing with people throwing olives at them, Bob and Linda decide to relax in the pool. Nobody wants to go in with them. It turns hostile. Later on, Bob calls Teddy to see how the kids are doing. As he checks the rooms, he finds that Gene and Louise are asleep, but cannot seem to find Tina. He panics and decides to go looking. Louise decides to help him as he realizes that she probably went with Jonas. Meanwhile, Bob and Linda get kicked out of the resort for not sharing the pool and then dumping condiments in when they have to.
Teddy goes investigating by first talking to the delivery owner Reggie (Eddie Pepitone). It doesn't go over well. Slowly but surely, they discover that they are at the beach. During that time, Tina was dared to go into a lighthouse. This backfires and some security finds her and decides to hold her until her guardian shows up. Teddy does the guardian routine and picks her up. He also tosses Jonas' moped into the water, which he instantly regrets. During this time, Bob and Linda are driving home. They pass the beach and see them sitting on the beach with the police. It is decided that it is a little late and everyone should get to bed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I will admit that a lot of charm from this episode was inverting expectations of Teddy. He has always seemed like the aloof sidekick in any episode that he is involved. In reality, there is so much more to him that makes this particular episode interesting. He makes dumb decisions, but deep down he cares about doing his job right. He likes cleaning drains and taking pride of weighing what he discovers. He will do the detective work to find out where Tina went. He may be a little off, but deep down, he cares. He is actually probably the most sane character in this episode. Maybe it was intentional, but it also kind of works when having to act against Tina and her raging hormones.
Considering that the idea of Tina disobeying someone isn't new, it is interesting that she would do it against Teddy. We haven't really seen her go off on too many problematic adventures in Bob's Burgers' run. Here, she escapes to the beach and has fun with a boy with long hair. It is typical of what she would do, but even more interesting when considering that Teddy cares enough to have to take advantage of finding her and taking her home. Also, Jonas is a bigger step up from Jimmy Jr., who still makes no sense in terms of crushes on the show. I hope he comes back.
Meanwhile, it is fun to see Bob yet again get foiled by his own confidence. He essentially takes too much pride in his job and it ends up bringing everyone against him. Just because he doesn't know how to use sarcasm on the internet, his entire group of online friends hate him. It resorts to name calling and a Jacuzzi full of condiments. It is a chaotic trip and one that basically shows the downside to his ego. It isn't necessarily something that is his fault, yet it is treated that way because everyone feels inferior to him. It is funny to watch him fight over the Jacuzzi and stand his ground.
However, the reason that this particular episode works so well is because of the structure. People enter and exit in such a meticulous fashion that makes it flow so nicely. By the time that the episode ends on the beach, it is a fascinating venture from each of the two plots' starting point. Neither are in their natural habitat and thus result in an ending that feels a little off, but very much resolves with Teddy being something of a hero. It works because he saved the day, even if he's the only one who ended up having a good time.
While I haven't cared much for the season as a whole, this last stretch of episodes has proven to be rather impressive. I find that they are shaking things up again and making me care about what is going on. I feel like this is best portrayed when characters are acting against each other in clever ways. This particular episode manages to do just that nicely. I do hope that with Teddy continuing to have a sense of humanity to his character that things will come together and he will be more than just a caricature of the bumbling friend. This is a great start to that.

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