After years of anticipation, The Bob’s Burgers Movie will finally hit cinemas this month, bringing the Belcher family to life on the big screen, complete with musical numbers, crushes, terrible puns, Wonder Wharf lunacy, talking horses, Kuchi Kopi, and even more Belcher family insanity.
Human Flesh (Season 1, Episode 1)
The first episode of the series. The pilot episode of Bob’s Burgers, “Human Flesh,” features Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) attempting to re-re-re-open his burger restaurant, only to have a grotesque rumor (started by his daughter, Louise (Kristen Schaal)) emerge claiming that his burgers are made from human meat sourced from the crematorium next door. “Human Flesh” contains everything you could desire from a Bob’s Burgers episode, and it does an outstanding job of establishing each character and their distinct personalities. From Louise’s naughty inclinations jeopardizing the family business to a truly endearing depiction of Bob and Linda’s (John Roberts) loving marriage, this is Bob’s Burgers at full throttle.
Beefsquatch (Season 2, Episode 9)
Bob submits an audition tape of himself preparing burgers in an attempt to get a feature on the local news but is joined in the background by a sasquatch mask, burger suit-wearing Gene (Eugene Mirman). The tape is a success, and the two’s arguing routine and more nasty pranks become a programming fixture. Tina (Dan Mintz) also finds herself with a lover who is fascinated with chewing the news anchor’s hair. Bob’s Burgers frequently spotlights Linda’s relationship with famed mama’s boy Gene, but we rarely get episodes that focus on Bob and Gene’s friendship. It’s a hilarious, borderline weird episode, and Gene in a sasquatch mask and burger costume has become synonymous with the show’s offbeat sense of humor.
“Mutiny on the Windbreaker” (Season 3, Episode 4)
After tasting one of Bob’s burgers, a visiting cruise liner captain invites him to be a guest cook on his ship for the evening. He is a strange guy who kidnaps the family and forces Bob into culinary service. Linda and the kids live out their fondest cruise-ship desires, while Gene falls in love with a manatee puppet. While the kids have no shortage of misadventures and adventures on a regular basis, the show’s experiences are frequently grounded in truth. Each character is set free and allowed to explore whatever craziness their hearts desire in an environment as self-indulgent and “luxurious” as a cruise ship.
“The Kids Rob a Train” (Season 4, Episode 15)
The Belchers board a wine-tasting train with limited amenities for children. Regular-Sized Rudy (Brian Huskey) is joined by Tina, Gene, and Louise in stealing a chocolate fountain, while Bob is challenged to a wine-tasting competition by a snobbish connoisseur. One of Bob’s Burgers’ charms is its ability to straddle the fine line between family-friendly kids’ television and filthy gross-out adult animation. “The Kids Rob a Train” is classic Bob’s Burgers, whether it’s the youthful joys of grand theft chocolate or Bob’s low-brow wine sensibilities.
“Dawn of the Peck” (Season 5, Episode 4)
Bob’s family abandons him on his favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, to celebrate Turkey Day at the Wonder Wharf pier. The Fischoeder brothers (Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis) have organized a “Turkey Trot,” or bull-riding with turkeys. The birds proved to be quite violent, seizing control of the pier festivities and unleashing their own feathery fury. In a genre as overdone as zombies, filling the world of Bob’s Burgers with mindless undead would be a waste of time. “Dawn of the Peck” succeeds in creating a cheerful, self-proclaimed homage to a genre that its makers plainly adore. It’s cheesy fun, yet every bit as intense as anything George A. Romero has done it.
“The Haunting” (Season 6, Episode 3)
“The Haunting” begins with Louise declaring that she has never been terrified in her life, a claim that will be tested throughout this wonderful Halloween episode. Bob and Linda take the kids to a haunted house that they had set up in one of Mort’s (Andy Kindler) clients’ homes. It’s sloppy and low-budget, and it doesn’t frighten Louise until the home starts making strange noises and a trio of hooded individuals materialize outside. There are many high-quality Halloween episodes on Bob’s Burgers, but what distinguishes “The Haunting” is the small peeks it gives into Louise’s character. It’s a thrill to see her, the stoic youngest sibling, gradually surrender to her terror in front of her family.
“Zero Larp Thirty” (Season 7, Episode 17)
Bob and Linda land a role-playing spot on the set of Linda’s favorite television show. When visitors are requested to choose roles from a hat, things go bad, and the pair is forced to trade in their weekend of Downton Abbey-style luxury for mundane labor. Meanwhile, at home, Teddy (Larry Murphy), who is babysitting, promptly injures his back, and the kids must band together to get him medical attention. Often, episodes that split into two stories (the adults and the kids) seem to do so to serve a distinct “A” plot and a weaker “B” plot. In “Zero Larp Thirty,” this is not the case. It’s tough to tell which is funnier: Bob’s participation in costumed class warfare or Teddy being dropped downstairs on a rope.
“The Trouble with Doubles” (Season 8, Episode 14)
Linda arranges a double date for her and Bob with another couple she meets at PTA, and the four end up stuck in an escape room. While her parents are away, Louise arranges a zombie movie marathon from VHS recordings she discovered in her parents’ closet. Things take a terrifying turn when the tapes prove to be too frightening, and Tina is forced to take charge. We don’t frequently see plots that highlight Bob’s intelligence, so it’s great to watch an episode that portrays him as brilliant and has him enjoy an evening out against his better judgment. Similarly, the program frequently subverts Tina’s role as the oldest child, making her the least dependable and mature of the three.
“Long Time Listener, First Time Bob” (Season 9, Episode 19)
Bob recognized the announcer’s voice at the bowling alley as Clem Clements (Nick Offerman), a radio DJ he used to listen to. The family attempts to assist him in returning to radio, with devastating effects. Linda, who is keeping the restaurant open, strives to embrace dietary modernism by adding sweet potato fries to the menu. Both themes are about people who bite off more than they can chew. The family is forced to hustle to make amends after discovering that Clements is an obstinate, bitter old man and that baking dozens of sweet potato pies was a horrible idea. We can’t, however, because the Belcher family is so dedicated to making little, positive improvements in their world,we can’t help but root for them.
“The Ring (But Not Scary)” (Season 10, Episode 1)
Bob buys a ring with a small diamond to surprise Linda for their anniversary. Gene, on the other hand, takes it to a waterpark and then loses it. While Linda assists Gayle (Megan Mullally) with eye drops, the family moves into high gear in search of it. Bob’s Burgers has no shortage of episodes about Bob and Linda’s marriage, but Bob going overboard financially to finally buy Linda an engagement ring is unexpectedly uplifting.
“Diarrhea of a Poopy Kid” (Season 11, Episode 7)
The second Thanksgiving episode on this list, “Diarrhea of a Poopy Kid,” finds Gene unable to participate in the celebrations after acquiring a stomach virus and spending the evening hugging the toilet. In an attempt to make him feel better about missing out, his family sits outside the bathroom and tells him stories in which he conquers food. Combining a Thanksgiving episode with an anthology movie parody is a tall order, but “Diarrhea of a Poopy Kid” rises to the occasion. It symbolizes the actual spirit of togetherness that is at the heart of Thanksgiving, and seeing the family joyously sitting outside the bathroom door with their plates of food, laughing together, elevates this episode to a new level.
“Driving Big Dummy” (Season 12, Episode 4)
Bob discovers a restaurant-grade sink for sale, but knowing it won’t fit in his station wagon, he enlists the assistance of Teddy and his truck. Bob’s patience is put to the test as the two go on a long road journey. Teddy’s appearance on the program is frequently intended to elicit compassion and provide the audience with someone to point to as being worse off than the Belchers. “Driving Big Dummy” highlights the character’s pleasant, conversational nature as a desirable attribute that Bob can emulate. It’s a touching road trip episode about friendship and the simple ways our interactions enrich one another’s life, a notion that is truly at the heart of Bob’s Burgers.
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