Even if it didn’t include a scene with Bob wielding a corkscrew while straddling the wing of a plane (sorry - pontoon), “Seaplane!” is a departure for Bob’s Burgers. Linda rarely gets to be the focal point of an episode as she does here, not to mention that this has got to be happening on the weekend since the kids are just there, with no discernable storylines of their own. They hang around with Bob in a shadow B-plot of wondering about Linda over in the A-plot, only to join her by the middle of the second act. Then there’s the fact that Linda wanting to spice up date night is as basic a sitcom premise as they come, but on the flip side, that ups the difficulty level. The aggressively wacky new date has been done to death, so if you’re going to do it again, you should probably some tricks up your sleeve.
But Bob’s Burgers isn’t big on tricks, nor does it have to be. Instead, the team behind Bob’s has created a world so richly weird that much of the fun comes from just throwing the characters together and watching them gleefully bounce off each other. “Seaplane!” cashes in on seasons of character building and therefore doesn’t suffer as much from being so aggressively straightforward as other shows might. I did miss the wickedly funny adolescent storylines we usually get with the kids, which are so absent from this episode that Tina’s brief Quickie Kissit fantasy is more jarring than anything else. But the Belcher kids are still used well here as a deeply dysfunctional three-pronged Greek chorus that exists to drive Bob further and further into his insecurity. When Bob is warned that Linda may already be putty in her flying instructor’s big strong hands, for example, we get Tina muttering, “oh, I didn’t know he had big strong hands,” followed by Louise’s delighted, “or putty!” So very silly, so very perfect for their characters. They even manage to give Bob shit as he’s cutting the rope off their runaway plane with a corkscrew, but we’d all be much better off if everyone could heckle like Tina’s deadpan, “how far are you? Just give us a percent,” or with an exasperated Louiseian shriek (“MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST HAVE THIS CONVERSATION LATER!”).
On the other hand, Bob has far less of an interesting presence in “Seaplane!” than usual. We’ve seen him dismiss Linda’s plans and then come (literally) crawling back before, and he doesn’t take it anywhere new this week. This would bother me more, though, if I weren’t too busy laughing at Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline, at his best) to notice. He was at his most delightfully madcap tonight, from randomly appearing on the boardwalk with an ice cream cone to taunt Bob, to blasting classical music on his boat with Kurt, to countering Louise’s “you should work at my school” with a smiling, “and you should work in my coalmine, bye!”
Still, the undisputed star of “Seaplane!” is Linda Belcher, who quite literally lived up to her name this week while confirming her place in the Hall of TV Wino Fame (I like to imagine her in a collage with Jenna Maroney, Cougar Town’s Cul-de-Sac crew, and every woman who ever sat at the bar on Cheers). She was on point the second she and Bob walk in after their “beige” date at Rudy’s, with him insisting it was a perfectly fine time as she curtly informs him that yes, it was a perfectly fine time, emphasis on the whatever. John Roberts clearly had fun with this episode and with guest star Will Forte, who slips right into Bob’s world again with his skeevy pilot Kurt, or as he’s better known to the locals, “Upskirt Kurt.” Forte does well, especially with Kurt’s horrifyingly high-pitched sobs, but it’s Roberts that takes over the good island of Quickie Kissit with Linda’s impressive commitment to both grown-up grapes and headbutting. I’m not sure why Linda-centric episodes are few and far between. Maybe it’s because Linda lets her enthusiasm overwhelm her in a Leslie Knope kind of way that can be a runaway train if unchecked, or that she’s so invested in being involved in everything that she just naturally ends up sharing stories with her family. In fact, the last episode to star Linda was the aptly titled, “Lindapendent Woman,” which practically spun her off into a different show at a grocery store only to have her and her family realize that they need her at the restaurant. I loved that episode but I appreciated Linda’s misadventure with Upskirt Kurt in “Seaplane!” for throwing the spotlight on both her knack for taking control and her passion for throwing back free cheese and champagne (sorry — prosecco. Or is it proshecco?).
- Thanks to Pilot for letting me step in this week, and to all of you for bearing with me being West Coast-based/nocturnal. Quote fast, quote furiously!
- My biggest laugh besides the headbutting might have been Kurt rolling back over Linda’s dividing line with the most petulant little kid whine.
- I will always, completely, and unabashedly love any scene that involves Linda spinning off into a fantasy while Bob naysays behind her ("And that's where ma lives, and pa…" "I told you I didn't go in the plane, I'm not with you.").
- I really hope the only reason Mr. Fischoeder ever goes to Bob’s is to get cell reception.
- Tina, making a strong case to become Quippiquassett’s ambassador: "Quickie Kissit: Where the currency is kisses and everyone is rich.
- Kurt’s plane/Linda’s epitaph: "She's 45 years old, but she looks 30 and handles like she's 18."
- Is it weird that when Linda told Kurt, “I was going to punch you, but I'm holding wine," I immediately clapped and then got “Wind Beneath My Wings” stuck in my head? Because I did.
- Gene, reading hearts and minds across America: "Is this an ad for side by side bathtubs? I WANT ONE."