It’s hard to not look at Bob’s Burgers as the closest thing to early-’90s-era Simpsons that animated family sitcoms have brought about in the last 20 years, and when the entire Belcher family works together in an episode like “The Deepening,” the comparison becomes even more apt. It’s not just that Bob’s Burgers has a familiar family dynamic, but that they have a great chemistry together that also works well when having to fight against their entire hometown, and their humor is distinctively Belcher.
“The Deepening” is a clear homage to Jaws, and it doesn’t hide that fact in the slightest. As Mr. Fischoeder tries to bring some new life to the town, Bob points out its film history, where the film The Deepening 3 was filmed in the ‘80s. The Linda Blair 3D vehicle starred a mechanical shark, which Bob suggests Fischoeder brings to the pier to gain excitement for the area.
But when Gene tries to cut off the shark’s fin—you know, for mechanical shark fin soup—the shark goes on a rampage throughout the town, flopping down the street, attacking everything in its path. Bob is found responsible since once again his kids have caused havoc on the area. With the help of Mort and Teddy, who blames his weight gain on the shark while he was filming The Deepening 3, Bob sets out the catch the shark.
One of the most important aspects of an animated show, I believe, is creating a world of great characters quickly in order to flesh out the show’s universe. The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy—they all did it, and each have had over a dozen seasons. If your show makes it to season 20, you’re going to need those minor characters to handle some of the stories. Bob’s Burgers puts some of these characters in the spotlight, as this is a great Teddy episode, especially when he warns the town of the pending doom the shark will bring. There’s also some fun stand-up moments from Mort, and I’m going to put it out there that Kevin Kline as Fischoeder is probably one of the most consistently great voice performances in the show.
Tina really shines here too, which is a good thing since the show’s episode focused around her didn’t really work that well. Tina bonds with the shark, saying that she is misunderstood and just trying to protect her babies. This leads to another great Tina dream montage, where she befriends the shark, throwing bloody chum into the air as the shark jumps over her, just like in Free Willy.
Bob reaffirms everyone’s point that they are “the family from hell,” as trying to stop the shark with spikes, oil and a crane only gives the shark spikes, makes it faster and electrifies it. The show’s many homages to Jaws are always hilarious, spacing them out so the show doesn’t suffocate in references. When the shark attacks the restaurant and Teddy says, “we’re gonna need a bigger restaurant,” the show winks at the audience, saying, “yeah, we have a limit.”
“The Deepening” is one of the more fulfilling episodes of Bob’s Burgers’ third season, making the family one singular unit against the shark (even though Tina’s allegiances are split), and having the family forced against the town is a familiar scenario, but it still works well. “The Deepening” has one focused storyline instead of splitting the family into several that don’t feel fully fleshed out, and that makes for one of the funniest episodes so far this year.