One of the biggest strengths of the third season of Bob’s Burgers is that the show has gotten increasingly more comfortable with setting the action outside of the restaurant. The majority of episodes do still take place there (as the central locale, it’s the easiest way to get all of the main players involved in any given storyline—oh, and it provides us with so many of the show’s puns), but throughout this season, the Belchers have started to explore more locations. It has had some mixed results—I was lukewarm on the cruise ship, but liked watching the family down in Florida—but generally speaking, any episode that revolves around the school is sure to be a good one. The children are all so unique and well developed that it’s funny to watch them do just about anything. Going a step further by taking them out of the comfort zone of the restaurant and viewing them in the context of their Wagstaff Elementary School peers (where the students are weird, but not always Belcher weird) heightens the humor. Bob’s Burgers definitely knows how to mine laughs from everyday school activities, such as a school dance or a science project, and “Carpe Museum” adds field trips to that list.
For must students, field trips are the shining light in an otherwise dull school year. There is something about being outside of a classroom that makes you want to throw all the rules out the window and introduce a little chaos into your day, even if that chaos is chaperoned. It should be perfect for Louise, but she hates the idea of going to the museum because it’s the same thing every year. Bob, who is chaperoning, takes Louise’s side, but Tina and Gene are both pro-field trip. From there, the episode uses the buddy system to create some fun pairings.
Tina partners up with Harry, a classmate who she thinks is an uncool weirdo and who believes the very same thing about her. They individually, secretly decide to teach each other how to be cooler people—she tries to convince him horses are cooler than dinosaurs, for example. They are each surprised to learn of the others’ opinion and even go as far as to poll their classmates to see who is the real dork, only to find out that they’re both nerds, and that’s okay. It’s a cute and somewhat amusing storyline, but it felt a little too cut and dry. That said, this whole thing did give Tina a new idea for her erotic friend fiction: Robutts.
Meanwhile, Gene and Zeke are paired up and spend most of the field trip excitedly hunting down their own interests. For Gene, it’s sand. (It’s a testament to how wonderfully weird Gene is written that I simply nodded and accepted this fascination with sand without a second thought.) For Zeke, it’s boobs. (He even has a checklist of all the boobs on display at the museum, which is both hilarious and, come to think of it, pretty practical.) Their pairing paralleled Tina and Henry’s in that Gene and Zeke eventually accepted each other’s interests with a shrug, but it worked better. I loved that they had such different interests (“I’ve never heard of anyone having a boob fetish,” Gene claims) but were equally passionate about it—and they even combine the two at the end.
Much of the episode, however, is built around the idea that Louise and Bob are cut from the same cloth. Bob and Louise understand each other more than anyone else in the family so he immediately knows that she’s snuck away to visit a closed exhibit, and she immediately knows how to convince him to join in the exploration. There are a lot of nice moments happening between the two, most to Louise’s chagrin, such as when she lets it slip that she’ll probably take over the restaurant. Bob teasing Louise about looking up to him—“Oh my God, am I your hero?!”—was my favorite part of the episode, simultaneously funny and sweet and pulled off with some perfect voice acting. Things briefly go awry when Louise’s trip buddy Ronald has an asthma attack and Bob has to MacGyver a zip-line to save him. It’s the second episode in a row to end with a Louise-bonding-with-another-Belcher moment that showcases her reluctant sweetness (and to be honest, the episode as a whole had many fewer laughs than "Boyz 4 Now") but I’ll take it.
- As for Linda, there isn’t that much to say about her story this week because it was just a rehashing of one of Linda’s basic traits (she has to feel needed, whether it’s as a chaperone or as a picketer for a place she doesn’t even work at). But it was still funny, especially the chants, and I love the little moment where Bob and Linda run into each other and just know what transpired that day.
- I’m glad the children didn’t object to their father chaperoning because that’s probably the easiest route to go in a sitcom episode featuring a field trip. Plus, weirdly enough, Bob kind of reminded me of my own father chaperoning my school trips to the Museum of Natural History. Once, he snuck some bored friends and I outside to play in the sprinklers in Central Park, and we had to rush back to the bus before getting caught.
- “Even the people who get paid to be in there don’t want to be in there! That’s how terrible it is!”
- I know that Andy and Ollie are basically just Walter and Perry, but I have to say, they always make me laugh.