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Bob's Burgers - Mom, Lies, and Videotape - Review:"Prepare to be Appreciated"

8 May 2017

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Bob’s Burgers loves doing holiday episodes. We’ve seen the Belcher family celebrate numerous Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Christmases. In this episode, the show tackles Mother’s Day. Unfortunately for Linda, one of the best cartoon moms of all time, she is sick during the kids’ annual Mother’s Day Pageant/Mothers and Primary Caregivers Appreciation Cabaret. Linda is heartbroken to miss the kids’ recital and tells Bob to tape every moment.

Bob will, with his flux capacitor, which the kids’ sarcastic name for his huge camcorder. Tina believes that no piece of technology should be that big unless it’s an actual Transformer. Once the kids get all their sarcastic asides about the camcorder out, Bob assures Linda that everything will work. Linda isn’t certain. She knows that Bob is a horrible cameraman. He’s too polite to the other spectators and school functions are no place to be polite.

It isn’t Bob’s politeness that ruins his recording. Instead, a full tape and empty battery cause him to miss every kid’s performance. Bob is so anxious about Linda’s reaction that he just sits in the car for a while. Luckily (for him) the kids come up with a plan to give Linda a show.

While the primary motivation for the Belchers is to give Linda something nice for Mother’s Day, they also all want to erase their many mistakes during the show. Louise was off-key, Gene missed his cues, and Tina forgot her line. They decide to describe the greatest Mother’s Day pageant ever, complete with shootouts, musical numbers, animatronics, and very good set design.

Bob’s Burgers does one of these anthology episodes each season and this one is as charming as all the rest. The animators did a great job of giving life to the kids’ dreams, but also sticking to the play conceit. In the transitions, you see the stage hands running around getting everything into place. There’s wires on everything in Gene’s story, and you can see the matte painting scroll for Tina’s contribution.

In the first story, Louise turns the fourth grade’s horrible rendition of “Mom on the Range” into “The Town with No Moms,” a psychological Western revenge thriller about a sheriff and his outlaw mother. When Meanie McQueen rides into the town and locks up all the moms, the Sheriff (played by Regular-Sized Rudy) goes to his mother (played by Louise) for help. After some recriminations about her missing his sheriff’s graduation, Louise rides in to save the day. They engage in a rubber-band shootout, Meanie is banished from the town, and Louise makes up with her son just in time to have an excellent death scene.

In the original sixth grade skit, Gene is off-beat in their mythology-inspired musical number. In the new version, he is the lead character in a rock opera about a god’s search for a mom. The god, Yingo, wants a mom, but his staff of creation is stolen by his two brothers. As befitting a story from Gene’s head, the production values are incredible. Linda is starting to wonder where the wire budget is coming from.

Yingo eventually sees a vision of a Mom, who inspires him to believe in her even without the staff of creation. She then embarks on a diatribe against dads that Bob thinks is a little too long.

Tina’s story of the night is the most hilarious and visually impressive. While her siblings stuck to one genre, she combined horror with action with a body-swapping comedy with her Alien(s)/Freaky Friday mashup. Tina is now a tough space station supervisor named Sigourney. What Sigourney lacks in creating scientific exposition, she makes up for in moxy. After some foreshadowing with an exo-skeleton, she goes off in search of the alien queen. When she finally confronts her (played with perfect obliviousness by Jocelyn), the two wish to be in each other’s shoes and switch bodies. Sigourney is happy to do cool alien queen things, but gets quickly overwhelmed by her alien babies. She fights and eventually tricks the alien queen into switching back and then runs away.

While the kids’ stories are all silly in their own unique way, they also show how much they appreciate the different sides of Linda. Louise thinks moms are supposed to protect people and imagines “Mom” as a badass outlaw, calling back to Linda breaking her out of in-school suspension in the last episode. Gene shows how endlessly supportive Linda is of his weird hobbies, including going to a candy factory every single day to protest a minor recipe change. Tina not only shows Linda as a cool alien queen with acid for blood but also acknowledges how difficult a mom’s job can be. It makes sense that Tina, the oldest, doesn’t just see Linda as a protector or supporter, but as someone who chose to be very good at doing a difficult job.

Linda probably understands that the real production didn’t involve a giant alien puppet, wirework, and one girl falling off a second-floor balcony. She tells the kids that she appreciates their version better, and that she doesn’t even want to watch the original. The day is saved for both Linda and Bob, who is redeemed from his horrible recording job by the kids’ adorable stories.

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