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Bob's Burgers - Zero Larp Thirty / The Laser-inth - Review: "Slappy Birthday"

24 Apr 2017

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Bob’s Burgers is back from a hiatus with a double helping of episodes that take us to 1901 America and stressful planetariums.

The first episode of the night, “Zero Larp Thirty,” starts off with a sitcom staple. Someone has won a contest and, crushing Gene’s dreams, it won’t lead to lifetime supply of free insoles. Instead, Linda has won a contest for a LARPing weekend at Winthorpe Manor, the mansion setting for her favorite show, Winthorpe Manor.

Someone on the writing staff obviously loves Downton Abbey, because Winthorpe Manor doesn’t hide its roots in the famous BBC import. The Winthorpes are America’s wealthiest textile family in 1901 and Linda can’t wait to act out her wildest fantasies from the show.

It takes Bob a lot longer to warm up to the weekend. First, he needs to have Tina explain to him what LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) actually entails. When he discovers that all guests and contest winners will spend the weekend in character, he tries to get Tina to go in his stead. Unfortunately, children aren’t allowed at Winthorpe Manor. They’re too busy working in the textile factories that allow the Winthorpes to have so many lady’s maids and syphilitic footmen.

Linda’s dreams are quickly crushed when she ends up being one of the “downstairs” characters. She’s Iris, the lady’s maid, while Bob is stuck being the footman. They have to sit in the servant’s quarters, eat disgusting, salty stew, and serve the upstairs guests. The two can’t just sit back and watch the other LARPers fumble their way through the roleplaying.

Bob’s inability to understand his place in the pecking order of the manor gets him invited to the drawing room for brandy and cigars. He even gets invited on the stroll through the tulip garden, which all the LARPers consider to be a great honor. The LARPer playing Lady Winthorpe bans Linda from the tulip garden and leaves her bitter and mad. She manages to rile up her fellow downstairs LARPers. The worker’s revolution is coming to Winthorpe Manor a little ahead of schedule.

Linda tries to bring in Bob to the revolt, but he has seen the upstairs life and has the cigar to prove it. Bob is torn between Linda’s plans of eating the upstairs dessert and going to a shooting party with the other LARPers. He manages to do both and steals the crank to the automobile, leaving the other upstairs guests stranded.

The servants enjoy the fruits of their labor, until the dessert course. The upstairs characters burst into the dining room and the whole thing results in a mad dash to the library. The LARPers are kicked out for messing around in the library. Linda learns an important lesson about classism and Bob learns how much he loves brandy and cigars.

Meanwhile, the kids are being babysat by pushover/fallover Teddy. It takes about two seconds into the evening before something goes terribly wrong. While Teddy is trying to set up a toy train, karma strikes. Teddy won’t let Gene wear the engineer’s hat and then his back immediately gives out. He insists that he just needs a little rest on the floor, but takes a while to get back to normal. The kids are happy to do whatever they want while Teddy’s stuck in the living room, but even they become concerned when he lays there all night. He asks them to rig up a gurney, but as they tell him, he may have them confused with kids who actually know how to do stuff.

The kids take off the bathroom door to try to form a makeshift gurney. They all learn a lesson about simple machines when they lower Teddy down the stairs through ropes and pulleys. Too bad they forgot the wheels, and too bad that Teresa’s quinceanera happens to be today. The kids have to roll Teddy to the beautiful rite of passage to find his chiropractor. Dr. Juarez fixes the problem, but the bathroom door has found a new home at the rec hall.

In the second episode of the night, “The Laser-inth,” Bob celebrates his birthday. It starts with an unbaked, flour-less muffin. Bob is first happy just reading his newspaper, but gets excited when the planetarium presents the last laser light show ever. Only Gene is actually into the lasers. The rest of the family plans a girl’s night with Gretchen.

At the planetarium, Bob tries to bond with Gene over his favorite band, Zentipede, and tries to walk Gene quickly past the sketchy scalpers and people smoking weed.

Meanwhile, girl’s night hits a speed bump when Linda, Louise, and Tina visit Gretchen at her new job at the Special Girls store. She is making money by giving blowouts to the American Girl-esque Special Girl dolls and talking to them like they’re real people. Gretchen takes the gang to the Special Girl dolls restaurant, which doesn’t work out well for Tina. She has a deathly fear of dolls and the clown doll is definitely not helping matters.

Gene has discovered a new fear of his own. He hates the planetarium laser show. Bob knows that he has to take Gene home, but is still regretful about missing the last show. Bob does the right thing and takes Gene out of the show. He’s rewarded by sharing Zentipede with Gene and watching his son discover a new passion for concept albums and psychedelic rock (of course Gene would love concept albums and psychedelic rock). Gene decides he wants to go back to the show, but they’re turned away by the bouncer. The two will have to sneak in. They pay the scalper and have to go through an elaborate set-up involving trying to figure out who is the Cool Nick and Uncool Nick at the concession stand. They have to pay Cool/Uncool Nick $20. They also have to run.

Louise first only likes the doll dinner ironically, but gets upset when she finds out that one of the dinner dolls is getting discontinued and will be fed into the doll shredder. She makes a plan to break out Francine, the Cold War spy doll.

All the Belchers run afoul of planetarium guards and doll waiters, but manage to get what they want out of the experiences. Gene and Bob use the disgraced planet Pluto as a distraction and it gets them into the show. Tina pushes through her fear of dolls to tell Louise it would be ok to take Francine home. The closing credits show Louise playing contentedly with her new doll while the rest of the group rocks out to Zentipide.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Let me know in the comments!