Bob’s Burgers: “Christmas in the Car” (Episode 4.08)

TV Reviews christmas
Bob’s Burgers: “Christmas in the Car” (Episode 4.08)

Bob’s Burgers has already taken care of the heartwarming holiday stuff with their wonderful Thanksgiving episode, so with that out of the way, they can get a little—make that a lot—ridiculous with their Christmas installment. And for the writers of this week’s installment, that means combining A Christmas Story and Duel into one jolly installment.

As the title suggests, the family spends Christmas Eve and some of Christmas in their car on a “family road trip” to get a third tree for their house. The first two didn’t make it as Linda bought the first on the day after Halloween, and the second on the day after Thanksgiving. Fortunately, a tree lot an hour outside of town has offered them the pick of the dregs. As they leave the lot, though, Bob almost runs them into a candy cane-shaped semi (Gene: “Finally a truck you’re allowed to lick!”), raising its driver’s ire.

The truck almost runs them off the road and then corners them on a small forest road. That is to say, the Belchers might have gotten away but their car got stuck in snow and mud (Gene: “I told you we should have a motorcycle with four sidecars!”). When the truck comes back, the driver (Bobcat Goldthwait) is angry but assuaged by a compromise: he will help the family get out of the muck in return for punching Bob once in the stomach. (Linda: “Awwww … that’s the holiday spirit, Bobby.”).

It feels funny running through the main plot of the episode so quickly. To look at it from afar, it seems as threadbare as the Christmas tree the Belchers are ready to bring home. That’s the beauty of a show like Bob’s Burgers though; the writers and cast turn it all into lush, sparkling comedy with oodles of throwaway lines and small plot diversions, like Linda’s insistence of getting a Dutch baby from a diner on the way home and talking of it as if it were a real infant (“Awwww … it’s a preemie! Just like Jesus.”), or the small, weird mystery of who didn’t flush the toilet at home. Plus, there’s the inclusion of a new novelty holiday song “Jingle in the Jungle.”

The true Christmas miracle of the episode was that none of the action described above was even the best part. That honor goes to Teddy, who stops by the house to shut off the oven to preserve Bob’s ham (“I wish my place smelled this hammy. Bob’s really got it all.”) and ends up falling into the trap the kids laid to capture Santa: he gets his hand stuck in a zip-tie handcuff dangling in the fridge. Every time they cut back to Teddy, laying there on the floor with one arm above his head, he’s knocks another little aside out of the park: “That’s a dumb place to keep bowls.” “It’s so cold. Crisp. Guess I’m near the crisper.” Not to mention his insistence, even after getting trapped under the fridge and after the Belchers return home to rescue him, that Bob first open up the Christmas card he sent. (“It’s a cat … it says ’Meow-y Christmas.’”) Give credit where it’s due to voice actor Larry Murphy for instilling each line with a delightful mixture of childlike whimsy and despair.

No lessons were learned. No heartfelt moments of joy and togetherness came to light. Just some strange admissions from the family when they were about to be spotted by their candy-cane-driving nemesis (Gene: “I think I have the best legs in the family and the smoothest bottom.” Tina: “I was the one who didn’t flush.”) and a little smattering of the holiday spirit for good measure.

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