May 19, 2015

TV Recap: Bob's Burgers - "Hawk and Chick"

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.
As Bob's Burgers reaches its final episodes for the season, it has decided to focus on family not by looking inward, but outwards towards a different one. In "Hawk and Chick," Bob (Jon Benjamin) and Louise (Kristen Schaal) are called upon to reunite the stars of their favorite Japanese action movies. It opens up a deeper understanding about them as a family as well as provides for one of the most touching and resonating episodes that the series has ever produced. Not to mention it has a lot of bad movie dubbing, which is something that we can get on board with.
The episode opens with Bob and Louise walking about doing errands. As they stop at a market, Louise spots a man who looks like Hawk of the Hawk and Chick movie series. Both of them have bonded over the years by watching the samurai movies and have memorized most of hte dialogue. As they follow him to his apartment, they discover that it is in fact him, whose real name is Kojima (Keisuke Hoashi) and that he is in town to reunite with his daughter and co-star Yuki (Suzy Nakamura). It isn't easy, especially since the two haven't talked together in decades.
Louise, eager to see them reunite, decides to go out of her way to ask the local theater to play a marathon of movies. This doesn't go well until Dominic (Kurt Braunohler) reveals that they can do a midnight movie after his manager leave. He also finds a print, which needs to be dubbed. Louise also tricks Yuki into coming without any real context as to why. The family gets working on the film and has it ready by the deadline. As the movie plays, the tape recorder starts to dysfunction causing the family to go on script.
However, Yuki is disappointed to the point that she considers walking out. Bob takes the time to riff, in the persona of Kojima, about how much he loves her. This gets both of them to talk to each other. It also gets Bob and Louise to realize how great they are when they work as a team. True, the actual movie was a disaster and poorly planned, but the happy ending paid off for everyone behind the scenes.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I haven't really talked about it too much, but I do believe that when Bob's Burgers is at its best, it can rival the iconic episodes of The Simpsons. This is because despite being on a different wavelength of humor, the show knows how to dial in the family sentiments and make the dysfunctional behavior more than a gimmick. There have been few episodes on par with "Mother Daughter Laser Razor" when it comes to this. However, what makes "Hawk and Chick" particularly fascinating is that it is vicariously done through an existing relationship and fascination with film. It is a subject that hasn't really been explored before, but ends in a hazardous finale that actually shows that Bob's Burgers many imperfections can pave the way for something even greater.
Yes, the joke of the end is that the dubbing failed to record properly. It does make the production a disaster. This is all funny, especially for fans of badly dubbed Japanese films. However, that is only the launching point for the entire episode's point. It is through film that the Hawk and Chick characters were created and how a different father and daughter pair bonded. It is basically trying to project the ideal family scenario onto strangers to find happiness. In this case, Bob takes on Hawk's character in the third act to unveil his deepest desires to Yuki; which are also vaguely true about Louise. He doesn't want to have her out of her life.
This is a rather packed episode with several gags that are very funny. Kojimo in particular is an interesting character who while deeply flawed is still able to exist in this world without too many conflicts. It is nice because while this show has done a pretty good job of expanding its core members, there haven't been any great new figures on par with Regular Sized Rudie a few seasons back. While I doubt that he will be a long term member of the cast, he does manage to exist in the grounded reality of a show all about blurring the line at points. If anything, this episode has a more mature core than it is given credit for. It is about how pop culture can unite us all and give us desires of what we want in our families and in ourselves.
It is nice to know that this late in the season can produce something that is through the roof impressive. Overall, this has been a jam packed season full of great moments. It is definitely a step up from last season and shows the program starting to age into veteran status with a cocky motive. I am wondering if the show will continue to reach down and find more of its heart as the show progresses. That is, if it does. There hasn't been much announcement for what is going to happen next season. For now, we can at least accept that the show is still as good as ever.

*NOTE: The TV Recap column on the season finale "The Oeder Games" will be released tomorrow.

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