Emerald Recommends: the best Bob’s Burgers episodes

(from left) Louise, Gene, Tina, Linda, and Bob Belcher. (Creative Commons).

In honor of the 100th episode of Bob’s Burgers being aired tonight, the Emerald recommends the finest episodes from the Belchers’ six seasons.

“Hamburger Dinner Theater” (season one, episode five)  The fifth-ever episode of Bob’s pulls no punches as it reaches absurd levels of gruesome black comedy. Linda recruits everyone for her murder mystery theater production inside the restaurant, including Mort for some of the special effects (he’s mum on whether the blood and viscera he brings over is real). Later, Gene slides across a blood-puddled restaurant floor, and a robber busts into the restaurant to case the joint but ends up tangoing with Linda – who, ever a sucker for the limelight and spontaneous singing, duets with him before he dances his way out of the store with a bag of cash. This is also one of the first appearances of Gene scoring a scene with his keyboard, punctuating the robber’s entrance and dialogue with spurts of dramatic minor chords. This episode is a virtually perfect sitcom script. –Emerson Malone

“Dr. Yap” (season 2, episode 6) In the tradition of The Big Lebowski and that South Park episode with Towelie, “Dr. Yap” is built around a hopelessly convoluted plot that, just as it becomes impenetrable, is revealed to be unimportant. What matters here is the bizarre interactions between the characters. Tina’s in love with Dr. Yap, Dr. Yap’s in love with Gayle, Gayle’s in love with Bob, and Bob just wants out of the whole situation. The comedy feels quaint, classic; there aren’t many gags that would be out of place in a ‘30s screwball comedy. And Tina kills in this episode as comic relief: she’s severely underrated as a source of slapstick, even if she has to punctuate all her fails with “I’m okay.” –Daniel Bromfield

“Broadcast Wagstaff School News” (season 3, episode 12) This episode represents what journalism is all about. After being rejected from her school news station, Tina sets out on a mission to be the standalone investigative reporter and uncover the treacherous school criminal on the loose, The Mad Pooper. This is by far one of the best episodes. With the combination of a hilarious pooper on the loose, some pretty great broadcast, and a whole episode of Tina thwarting the social hierarchy with her riveting monotone voice and bright green blazer, it’s a can’t-miss. –Jordyn Brown

“Two for Tina” (season 3, episode 17) Our friend fic-writing, butt-loving heroine is at it again in this episode. She’s put in the situation of her dreams: caught between two boys vying for her attention – namely, her favorite Jimmy Jr. and a boy she met behind the milk fridge in a grocery store. You can smell the lust and romance from a mile away with this one. This episode has everything you’d ever want in a Tina episode: boys, butts and a ton of epic dancing. –Jordyn Brown

“The Kids Run The Restaurant” (season 3, episode 20) The single best thing about Bob’s Burgers is how much of the comedy comes from internalizing the characters’ personalities. Of course Louise wants to turn the restaurant into a casino. Of course Gene formed a girl group. This characterization is key to the comedy of “The Kids Run The Restaurant,” and the laughs just keep building and building as Louise gets more and more drunk with power and Gene struggles to act as svengali for his pathetic band. (The landlord shows up eventually, landing the kids in trouble – though not the kind of trouble you’d think.) It all ends in a bloody mess that might startle even longtime fans. What a wonderful show. –Daniel Bromfield

“Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl” (season 5, episode 1) Midway through season three, Gene was suckered into courting Courtney, a classmate who sucks on her necklace like a lozenge. In the fifth-season premiere, Courtney and her pops collaborate on a school play, a musical inspired by the 1988 film Working Girl. Her dad sweetens the deal by mentioning he knows Carly Simon. Gene, who wasn’t chosen, gets back at them and arranges a one-Gene “guerilla-slash-protest play” of Die Hard in the school’s boiler room. The peak of all things Gene is either when he sings, “I’m Hans Gruber and I’m Grubin’” or when he’s punching himself as both Gruber and John McClane. –Emerson Malone

“Best Burger” (season 5, episode 5) “Best Burger” is a bit of a Gene self-discovery arc, in which the middle Belcher child comes to terms with his easily distracted nature. But that’s just about the least compelling aspect of the episode. What makes it superior is its there-and-back-again plot and surprisingly tense action sequences. Bob’s Burgers put the Belcher family through a lot more shit in seasons 4 and 5, especially mortal peril, and though it’s only a delicious-looking black garlic burger at stake here, this is the most suspenseful episode the show’s ever done. –Daniel Bromfield
“Eat, Spray, Linda” (season 5, episode 18) The lives of the Belcher kids are well-documented both within and outside the restaurant. The day-to-day activities of Bob and Linda, however, remain largely unseen. “Eat, Spray, Linda” plays with this mystery. Bob and the kids go on an adventure to find the missing matriarch, finding out a bit more than they’d like to know about her private life in the process. Meanwhile, Linda takes the wrong bus and embarks on an unenviable journey across town, concluding with a chase through a chalk festival and one of the show’s most delightfully reality-bending scenes. –Daniel Bromfield

“Stand By Gene” (season 6, episode 12) Leave it to Bob’s Burgers to turn two kids wrestling in goat poop into one of the most poignant things you’ll ever see. “Stand By Gene” is a loose parody of Stand By Me, but it jettisons everything about that film except for starring a bunch of children and bucketloads of melodrama. This is one of the show’s most nakedly emotional episodes, and there’s real weight to Zeke’s new friendship with Gene and Jimmy Jr.’s jealousy-driven rivalry with the latter.  It also may spell the beginning of a new character arc for Tina, whose true love might not be Jimmy Jr. after all. –Daniel Bromfield

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