At some point everyone around is going to own up to the fact that Bob’s Burgers is not just the best animated series on TV, but the best sitcom on network TV. If the fact that it was just picked up by FOX for a sixth season wasn’t enough, this sturdy, funny, and heartfelt episode should offer up ample proof of its greatness.
Tonight’s installment splits up the kids and the parents yet again, yielding double the amount of laughs as a result. For the half-hour, we got to follow the kids in their adventures in the world of competitive go-kart racing, and Linda and Bob as they try to introduce Teddy’s homebrewed beer (called, of course, Teddy’s Brewski) to their restaurant’s menu, because it compliments the burgers so well, all while fending off the suspicion of the angry health inspector.
The show has a lot of fun playing with this slobs vs. snobs archetypal tale that helped drive so many ‘80s teen comedies. And I think the writers know how much funnier it is to boil that down to an elementary school level, with the Belcher kids going up against the snotty kids from Kingshead Island who can afford to drop $1,000 on a custom go-kart. They also know the dramatic fun to be had with Tina getting pulled into the world of the “have”s, after she’s recruited to drive a go-kart by the head of the Kingshead Island Speedsters, Sasha (voiced by a perfectly unctuous Jon Daly). This sets up some great moments between Tina and Louise, who feel betrayed by her older sister’s move to the other side of the tracks.
On the other side, I rather love Ron, the health inspector, and his single-minded desire to take down Bob’s Burgers at any cost. And I love listening to Sam Seder’s apoplexy as he does it. It’s also great to see Bob and Linda stick to their guns, not wanting to let the angry little man win, even if that means waking up at 6 a.m. to serve him breakfast because they insist that the bread that they baked as a cover for Teddy’s beer is for the new menu.
The writers of the show are also doing a nice thing letting the Belchers win a few every now and again. Bob finally gets rid of Ron, if only because the health inspector’s boss would have fired him if he didn’t leave Bob’s Burgers alone. And it’s always great to see the kids pulling for each other, as with the final moments when Tina helps Louise over the finish line. They’ve had a lot of fun at the Belchers’ expense—letting them dangle in defeat, so I applaud Rich Rinaldi (who wrote tonight’s episode) and the other folks on the staff keeping the scales in balance this season.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.