Can you believe how long it’s been since we last had a new episode of Bob’s Burgers? We haven’t seen the Belchers since January! What a long and dreary winter it’s been without them. I’m tempted to give “The Frond Files” an A+ based solely on how happy I am that it’s back but alas, a solid B+ will have to do.
That said, “The Frond Files” is incredibly funny and reminded me of why the Belchers are my favorite family currently on television. “The Frond Files” is made up of three vignettes. It would be too easy to make a comparison to The Simpsons here, right? But that is what I was immediately reminded of when the episode shifted into Louise’s story. Each of the children get their own time in the spotlight tonight (and each appear in each others vignettes; the other common denominator is Mr. Frond). It was a fine episode but didn’t quickly become a favorite the way that many Bob’s Burgers episodes do for me. I’m not sure I dug the vignette format. Much of it, as funny as it was, seemed like a retreading of things that we already knew. But hey, still good!
Bob and Linda go to the kids’ elementary school for “Why I Love Wagstaff” night (last year’s theme was “I Love Wagstaff: Here’s Why”) but their kids’ projects aren’t on display with everyone else’s. Mr. Frond, after initially trying to ditch them, explains why: Louise, Gene, and Tina all wrote fantastical but slightly screwed up stories that portrayed both the school and Mr. Frond in a negative light. The children’s essays were all gleefully bizarre and each one very reflective of its writer.
Louise’s vignette had the chaotic element that we have come to expect from her. In her world, Mr. Frond is a “super strong robot from the future” who has gone back in time and is intent on destroying Louise. With help from Future Darryl, sporting a disgusting adolescent mustache, Louise learns that she successfully pulls a prank on Mr. Frond—the “ brownie chair surprise—and that led to him seeking revenge. There are two standout things in this vignette: first, the conversation between Louise and Darryl—the details of how he and Frond were members of the same message board while building their time machines and Louise’s exasperation that Darryl went back in time basically to be a narrator (“Just a bucketload of exposition!” she exclaims, echoing my frustration with a lot of time travel storylines).
Second, there is a wonderful kitchen scene homage to my favorite scene in my favorite movie: the raptors in the kitchen from Jurassic Park. I love when Bob’s Burgers includes these pop culture homages because they manage to be faithful while putting their own specific Bob’s spin on it. Also, Gene exclaiming, “This kitchen is so shiny!” was great. This may have been Louise’s story but it was Gene’s one-liners that stood out the most to me: “I’m dodging for two!” “Small bits of pork throughout the day is what they say!” “Un-Belize-Able!”
Speaking of Gene, his version of Wagstaff is “Fart School For The Gifted” and has a flatulence heavy story featuring Gene’s signature humor and love for music. It’s oddly adorable. It also puts Mr. Frond as the enemy—he doesn’t allow any music or dancing in the school so he confiscates Gene’s keyboard and puts it in keyboard jail. His vignette ends, as it should, with a very catchy song about farts—adding to the growing list of reasons why I’m so excited for the Bob’s Burgers album next fall.
Tina’s vignette is, as you would both hope and expect, erotic friend fiction. While on beat as hall monitor/sheriff of the hall, Tina learns that the jock itch vaccine turned the Junior Varsity basketball team into zombies. Mr. Frond, again, is an enemy here. He’s a coward and refuses to let the students into the locked teacher’s lounge but ends up getting bitten himself (“I wonder if she can taste his sadness”). It’s a typical zombie stor but has a cool Tina spin. The zombies are eventually pacified when Tina sets off the charm bomb and enchants them with her flirting—resulting in the zombie basketball team becoming her collective boyfriend. It’s a vignette that I can only describe as “pure Tina Belcher.” It is eccentric and hopeful, sex-obsessed but juvenile, and it explores Tina’s fetish in a refreshingly straightforward way, instead of shaming her for being attracted to, well, the living dead.
To be fair, Bob is a little put off by it but probably no more than any father would be upon reading a story about his daughter’s sexuality. The best part of “The Frond Files” is how the parents are so supportive of their children and how they fully, 100% encourage their children’s creativity—even if this creativity is deemed weird or offensive by the school. “Well, I loved it!” and “It was good!” are their responses to Louise’s story; Gene’s is “so beautiful” it makes Linda cry (“His farts set them free!”) and Bob defends the ending. Linda and Bob know that their children are strange—after all, they did raise them and are the biggest reason why their children are the way they are—and they always embrace this strangeness. At the end of the day, they’re always going to be the parents who steal back Gene’s keyboard and keep quiet about Louise’s pranks.
· I appreciated the one-liners and quick jokes more than I liked the overall story/structure of the episodes so most of my notes are just hastily jotted down lines. Every character—and every voice actor—was on point. I mean, “A hero? He wants to destroy the school with farts!” and “There’s a Brandon Frasier DVD just sitting in a bush outside” were both hilarious.
· Ollie and Andy alert! Both of their “Why I Love Wagstaff” essays were great. One of my biggest laughs of the night? “We made you a get well card.” “It’s a banana peel!”
· Also basically everything Tina said in her exchange with the jocks in the hallway. “Do you have hall passes? Or tall passes?” “Jock health is the most important kind of health.” “Swish, nothing but butt.” She’s absolutely perfect.
· Tina’s hair in Gene’s story gets an A++++ from me.