It’s a definite and proven scientific fact, and not something that I’ve just made up, that when a sitcom reaches its eleventh season 99.2% of them have gone off the boil to a disturbing extent, being a shallow, disappointing shadow of its former self. Or just a bit repetitive and dull, at the very least. But could the mostly reliable and largely extremely likeable Bob’s Burgers be one of the few that bucks the trend? Or would it too suddenly be so poor that I’d track down every writer and glare at them for hours?
Given that a big part of the episode was a dream sequence it really could have jumped the shark in a painful manner too, it was a risky pursuit in a series which normally celebrates the mundane and generates a lot of laughs from the Bob and Linda’s day to day life as they struggle to get by. Fortunately they pulled it off though, largely as it doesn’t deviate too much from the formula, sure there’s a talking rubber band squeezy ball (Jack McBrayer) and a chatty self help tape (Jon Glaser) but it’s still all an excuse to explore Bob’s life and how things haven’t exactly worked out for him.
And what do we learn about Bob from his dream? Not too much that we didn’t already know to be honest, in that he’s lacking in confidence, feels a fair bit of shame about the decisions he’s made (or indeed not made), and that he repeatedly puts things off and relies on others all too often. But his issues are presented in a smart, funny way so it never feels to bleak or too bland, and best of all is that despite Bob’s realisation of his weaknesses, he’s able to see that he is actually good at some things.
Meanwhile Linda and the kids are involved in increasingly convoluted games of Patty Cakes (well, that’s what it was called when I was a kid, anyway) a game with supposedly amusing wordplay, with Tina frustrated as she’s unable to do it. Though fine and likeable enough it’s rather average compared to Bob’s storyline, the episode needed something more realistic as a b-plot to ground it but it could have done with something a little livelier, a little funnier, there’s the odd amusing moment but not much more than that.
This is a very solid episode of Bob’s Burgers then, and given it is the 195th that’s an impressive thing indeed, and it’s genuinely pleasing that this far in it is still capable of being such a thing. Even though this is a little absurder than most episodes it still retains its warmth and charm, and Bob’s plotline is the show having a lot of fun with itself while not being too unbelievable or out of character. Sure, it’s a bit of a shame the b-plot is less involving, but nonetheless it is a great start to the season and one which most importantly made me laugh a fair bit.