“Eggs For Days” is one of the best examples of Bob’s Burgers as a hangout show. The family gets almost all the screen time here, with only a guest spot from Teddy—the honorary sixth Belcher at this point, let’s be honest—and a fun pop-in by Mr. Fischoeder to vary things up. The action never leaves the apartment and the restaurant, with only Teddy’s final run to the ocean and Linda’s wonderfully bizarre account of her experience buying the jellybean schnapps to remind us a world exists outside the Belchers’ home. And, true to the idea that this is just the audience hanging out with the Belchers for a half-hour, there’s not really a fully-formed story to speak of here. Rather, Bob’s Burgers picks an overall topic in Easter and moves between a few different, loosely connected ideas. The result is a fun little ramshackle episode that can sometimes feel a bit aimless but is ultimately able to coast off the audience’s good will toward the Belchers, Teddy, and their lovably insane, brothel-frequenting landlord.
After all, if you go by what bookends the episode, surely “Eggs For Days” must be about how the Belcher kids don’t actually enjoy the Easter egg hunt, as the whole thing is really just an excuse for Bob and Linda to let loose their competitive streaks. The problem with that though is the kids’ feelings are largely irrelevant from what goes on in between. In the context of the story’s narrative logic, that’s understandable: The odor of that rotting egg is so horrendous that it wouldn’t make sense for even an incorrigible straight shooter like Louise to bring up how much she dislikes the whole experience. But the egg proves such an overwhelming presence that the episode can’t really develop any internal divisions among the Belchers, be it between Bob and Linda, between the parents and the kids, or among the kids themselves. With the whole family largely unified in trying to get rid of the offending egg, it plays as an afterthought when Bob and Linda start sniping at each other at the end, as though the episode and the audience are collectively realizing, “Oh, that is what this episode was about.”
How much does that matter? For those who evaluate Bob’s Burgers primarily in terms of how funny an episode is—which is a reasonable way to judge an episode of an animated comedy!—these might all seem like rarefied objections. But my basic contention with TV comedy is that very few shows are just an assembly line of jokes, and those that are (yeah, Family Guy does spring to mind) lose out on the opportunity to harness character development and storytelling momentum to make the jokes richer and, yes, funnier. The best Bob’s Burgers episodes excel at both those tasks, but “Eggs For Days” at best only manages the character side of the equation. Until the family smells the rotting egg, I wasn’t at all sure what this episode was going to be about. It appeared reasonable enough that the episode was just a slice of life about Easter at the Belchers.
Honestly, the first third of the episode is oddly nerve-wracking, as “Eggs For Days” keeps introducing potential inciting moments for plotlines and then discarding them. The kids’ distaste for the egg hunt seemingly comes and goes, as do Bob and Linda’s competitiveness, their getting shitfaced on bootleg schnapps, and even Bob being in no fit state to cook the Easter ham, which if this were a Thanksgiving episode would more than enough to drive a story. After all that, something big ought to happen to justify the show delaying the reveal of its central story for so long, even in the face of multiple valid candidates. (Not that I’m jonesing for an in-depth examination of Bob and Linda’s drinking habits. As Linda once so eloquently put it, her only drinking problem is she doesn’t have a drink in her hand right now.)
And, in theory, the rotting egg ought to provide that! After all, it drives them from their home, has Mr. Fischoeder casually threatening to have his good friend Arson Daly pay them a visit, and starts losing them business—because everything in the Belchers’ lives eventually loses them business—once the smell reaches the restaurant. But Bob’s Burgers makes a tricky choice of what to build the episode’s central problem around, as a smell-based story is always going to be hampered by the fact that this is a storytelling medium that can only communicate by sight and sound. As such, there’s no way for the audience to share in the Belchers’ plight the way they would if this were some unbearable noise or visual. I’m also not stumping for “Eggs For Days” to be transmitted in Smell-O-Vision, but it adds another aspect to the generally shambling nature of this episode. This isn’t so much a unified, coherent story as one where a bunch of loosely related stuff just sort of happens.
That needn’t be a fatal flaw, admittedly. Mr. Fischoeder’s one scene, for instance, works as well as it does in part because he just pops in, acts like the plutocratic lunatic he is, and then disappears, not to be seen again. And while the episode itself feels shapeless, “Eggs For Days” does draw on some fondly remembered bits of Bob’s Burgers lore. (Yes, this show has lore.) Linda and Teddy remind us of their encyclopedic knowledge of the neighborhood’s resident raccoons, while Bob goes all the way back to the show’s second episode—the aptly titled “Crawl Space”—when he repeatedly assures everyone how well he knows the crawl space. Maybe this really is just best understood as a slice of life around a typically mad Belcher family Easter, with the challenge of the egg and the undercooked conflict around the hunt just distracting from the fact that it’s fun to spend a half-hour with the family.
That’s what Bob’s Burgers always has going for it. While other shows might have to rely on smoke and mirrors—big celebrity cameos, ever more absurd setpiece gags, what have you—Bob’s Burgers is the rare show that can just collapse its show back down to the daily life of the family and be confident in getting at least decent results. “Eggs For Days” is an episode of fun moments, particularly the parents going to town on the jellybean schnapps, Mr. Fischoeder popping by, and Bob and Teddy launching their mission into the crawl space. That this doesn’t connect together as well as it ought to is only a problem because we know from other examples how well the show can pull of that feat. And yet, as an occasional change of pace, something like “Eggs For Days” can be a lot of fun.
- Now I’m just going to be disappointed if Little King Trashmouth hasn’t adopted children or had some with the help of a surrogate. I don’t want to say progressivism in America lives or dies based on that, but, well…
- Seriously, Mr. Fischoeder, nice save there. I don’t think anyone was able to work out you were actually headed to a brothel. Bob sounded hugely impressed as well.
- It’s interesting that Linda makes a point of noting Kelly Ripa is from New Jersey, as ”It Snakes A Village” appeared to confirm from the family’s travel map that they live in the Garden State. Whether this is Linda showing some state pride or the show just kind of forgetting that’s where the Belchers supposedly live is a little unclear, based on the delivery of the line. And yes, I’m aware that this is pedantic and unnecessary as my, say, sweating over whether a character from New Zealand actually talks more like he’s from Australia. Not that I’d ever do anything as silly as that, no sir!
- I’m as shocked as you are that this went up before, like, two in the morning. But hey, WrestleMania beckons.