TV Review: Bob’s Burgers, Season 5 Episode 14 “Lil’ Hard Dad” (USA, 2015)

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Bob’s penchant for not backing down on ‘the principle of the thing’ no matter how inane rears its head in “Lil Hard Dad”. The difference this time around is Gene, who usually doesn’t pay much attention to his father’s impassioned irrelevant causes, decides to jump on board the insane train.
The result a rare moment where Bob’s being taken seriously….by at least one of his kids anyway.

Recap: Bob dabbles in the RC hobbyist world after purchasing a True Lies replica helicopter (complete with clutching Arnie Schwarzenegger and dangling Jamie Lee Curtis) during a ‘night shopping with wine’ session. After the chopper shatters on first landing, an incensed Bob decides to demand a refund of the owner, a dud move culminating in an all-out RC chopper war. Back at home Linda’s teaching Tina how to skive off doing her book report for Call of the Wild by covering it up with ‘pizzazz’, a mission that ends in unexpected success.

The back and forth between Linda and Louise who’s mutual hatred of reading brings out their deviant similarities is one of the episode’s more charming aspects. The understanding and appreciation of each other’s ideas and dialogue delivery is another example of the odd yet symbiotic way in which the family operates. Tina being their focal point makes good use of her tendency to freak out and her rant about boob sweat leading to her downfall is a hilariously good call. This particular plot point also takes her monotone vocals to new heights (kinda), a skill of which voice actor Dan Mintz must be applauded for. Some would also note her signature slow dance moves a la scenes from “Burger Wars” slowly merging into her doggy wag shuffle.

Gene’s initial awe of his father’s ‘heroic instincts’ leads him willingly into the path of Sheldon Felds an RC nut who’s been shunned by former employer The Hobby Hole for partaking of staff lunches. The whole exercise reveals how invested Bob is into getting his come uppance, for one he’s happy to oblige Hobby Hole employee Terry whom he usually would never give the time of day. He also doesn’t flinch when Terry tells him ‘The Vanquisher’ will set him back $300, unusual given he’s a known cheapskate. It’s at this point that Gene echoes the right level of indignance and it seems that the role of responsibility seems to swap for a little while (‘what’s with you hobbyists!’). The final RC showdown is as ridiculous as it is ineffective, a play war between a bunch of boys and their toys, leaving Bob hanging from a ledge with a butt full of ‘principles ‘, aka darts.

The episode ends in a Bob’s Burgers signature random, awkward way, somehow the family end up peeking through the glass windows of Tina’s classroom in time to take in her meltdown, which the teacher nonsensically mistakes for genius and earns Linda the ‘best parent’ award that week. A couple of very brief but excellent cameos from Jocelyn with her interesting take on Tale of Two Cities and a clever reference from Teddy who rocks up dressed like Wilfred provide some fun in the last fleeting moments.

There of course no explanations for these last few scenes, there never are, but it’s all taken with an acceptance that anyone who’s gotten into the series seems to muster. “Lil Hard Dad” compromises a little more on gags to delve a little bit deeper and experiment with the same sex and general family dynamics of the Belchers but it’s a nice change and coupled with the general ridiculousness of the plot rounds out the episode really well.

 

Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

 

Watch out for

The store on the right next to Bob’s Burger joint is called ‘Baby Got Back Problems – Physical Therapy’.

The pest control van out the front of the store is a play on Roberta Flack’s infamous track ‘Killing Fleas Softly (with our spray)’

Listen out for

Gene’s reference to Kirk Cameron’s evangelism…

“Fish in the sky, this was in Revelations, Kirk Cameron was right!”

 

Bob’s Burgers airs on FOX43 Sundays 7:30pm EST