Disclaimer: I’m still getting used to “Bob’s Burgers” being the closer for Fox’s Sunday night programming. It’s both vindicating (“Bob’s” is one of my favorite shows), and a little past my bedtime (I’ve got a perpetual case of the Mondays).
We get a (rare) cold opening, and it’s ominous: as Wonder Wharf workers prepare for the Turk-tacular Turkey Town Festival and Turkey Trot, one man screams as he is attacked by something in the livestock trailer. Then we cut to the Belchers’ kitchen, where Bob is sulking because Linda and the kids seem to be unofficially boycotting his favorite holiday (Thanksgiving, in case you hadn’t already known or guessed). Linda is running in the Turkey Trot (which, as it turns out, includes geese, ducks, and maybe chickens), and Gene, Louise, and Tina are going to the Turkey Town Festival for “full-priced fun” on discounted rides. Bob pretends to be thrilled about spending the day alone, and Linda offers to bring home Chinese food for not-Thanksgiving dinner.
Down at the wharf, Linda finds Teddy, who’s excited to run the race because he once worked on a turkey farm, and the kids try to decide which ride to go on first: the Scramble Pan or Violent Mountain. Calvin and Felix Fischoeder (Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis, respectively) prepare to set “poultry in motion,” but bicker over how safe the conditions are for the upcoming race. Nonetheless, the starting pistol is fired, and the birds are released from the trailer.
The race promptly goes to hell because there is something very wrong with these birds; they attack just about everyone including Linda, who gets knocked out by a one-eyed turkey. She comes to in the fun house with Teddy, who tells her that while they don’t immediately need to start trying to repopulate the Earth, it’s definitely in their future. Startled, Linda asks how long she’s been in there, and Teddy replies “five or six minutes.” Ahem.
Luckily, the kids (including Regular Sized Rudy) are somewhat safely ensconced in the egg cups on the Scramble Pan ride. Mickey (Bill Hader) is the ride operator, but he chooses discretion over valor—that is, he hides in one of the game booths rather than try to get the kids to safety. Louise despairs of the fact that they are going to die the way they were born: spinning around in an egg.
Meanwhile, the only danger Bob’s in is of being drunk: he treats himself to “day whiskey,” Donna Summer tunes, and sitting with his legs crossed on the couch. It wouldn’t be a “Bob’s Burgers” Thanksgiving without conversations between Bob and the things around him, so we see Bob first cracking “Baste-ille” jokes to potato chips and then being guilt-tripped by his old pal (or flame?), the turkey baster. He decides to put together a holiday feast with or without a family to share it. So he scribbles what he thinks is a note that does not “sound drunk” and then heads to the store.
Back at the wharf, Linda argues with Teddy and Mickey over the cause of this poultry pandemonium: Linda believes the spirit of Thanksgiving is literally attacking them because they’ve boycotted the holiday; Teddy says the birds’ pecking order is all out of whack, insisting that it’s “biology, not hocus pocus”; and Mickey thinks it’s just time for turkeys to rule the earth. But they strap on some stuffed animal armor and then head to the Scramble Pan to rescue the kids. With a little help from Regular Sized Rudy, they manage to hit the kill switch on the ride, but they’re still surrounded by turkeys and other things with wings. After some more heroics (mostly Teddy’s), everyone’s safely on board the Tickle Boat, and headed home to Bob.
However, Bob’s not home, so then everyone has to head to the store. Bob, who is definitely drunk and also totally unaware of what’s happened at the wharf, encounters the “Cyclops turkey” that attacked Linda. Teddy’s turkey talk has sunk in, though, and Linda makes herself the alpha turkey by first head-butting (or “pecking”) the humans and then the head turkey. And all’s well that ends well—except for Thanksgiving dinner, because everyone’s been put off of turkey.
There’s a pretty sharp divide in the A and B stories here, but both plots play to the show’s strengths. This show can always turn nothing into something, escalating simple family fun into an orgy of violence at the drop of a hat. But it can also coax laughs from straightforward storytelling, e.g., Bob deciding to do whatever he wants at home because his family doesn’t want to do what he wants to do. The coup de grace is the contrast of the dire straits of the wharf crew against the relatively low stakes of Bob’s day off, all set to Donna Summer’s music.
Whose theory on the turkey revolt did you buy? Are you more or less likely to gobble down the turkey this week? Tell us what you think in the comments!
Despite Rudy’s carnival ride bravery, Louise doesn’t give him very good odds for the final confrontation: “Dear sweet Rudy, you won’t live to see the end.”
This show’s other Thanksgiving episode had the Belchers pretending to be Calvin Fischoeder’s family and kitchen staff. That guy really likes to ruin Bob’s favorite holiday.