Bob’s Burgers, “The Runaway Club,” (5.16) – TV Review

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BB Runaway

March 22nd, 2015, 7:30 PM, FOX

All three Belcher kids are stuck together doing a Saturday morning detention. Alongside Zeke, Jimmy Junior, Tammy, and Jocelyn, they’re punished for a brawl that occurs when Tina makes the mistake of wearing the same bracelet as Tammy, Zeke gets involved, Jocelyn panics and pulls the fire alarm and Jimmy Junior squirts them all with a fire extinguisher. To convince the children of the seriousness of their transgression Mr. Frond splits them into two different teams and sets them to designing outfits for three different Wagstaff faculty members in a contest he calls “Scared Fabulous”, a pilot program that Mr. Frond hopes to take national. With the Belcher kids down an assignment, will they pull out a victory? Or will the plug get pulled on the whole production, forcing Louise to talk Mr. Frond into a winner-takes all kids-versus him design project that should spring them from the detention? After all, they are willing to do anything to get free in time to attend the Cotton Candy Festival going down at the Wonder Wharf, from battling each other in a dumpster to engaging in a wrestling match. Meanwhile, Bob and Linda are suspicious that Sally, a teenager who’s arrived at the restaurant to sell magazines, is secretly the victim of a scam artist, but when they refuse her ‘camp leader’ arrives to make them both miserable.

This is one wild mixed bag of an episode. One of its bigger flaws is that the Breakfast Club-style parody proves to be nothing more than padding that opens and closes the episode; the real meat of it settles around Frond’s competition, which probably would have worked better had it been an assignment that went out of control. There’s still a few glimmering bits of humor to be found, most of them in the outlandishness of the tasks Frond sets them to, and the sight of Gene in a lettuce leaf suit will never not be funny. But what a strange little competition it is, even for BB. To side note – it’s interesting to see how Tina’s begun standing up to Tammy – their relationship has always been an erratic mix of Tina being an uninsultible victim for Tammy’s verbal slings to Tina desperately coveting what Tammy has, popularity and fashionability. This past episode they were actually bonding, but in this one they’re mortal enemies, and Tina’s willing to actually literally punch the girl. Is by-the-books wallflower Tina slowly turning into a tough girl? Will this bit of character revert next week, or has something been changed. I found these marked moments of OOC behavior too roughly translated not to note.

Bob and Linda’s subplot, meanwhile, hinges on them being too foolish to post-date a check and unwilling to call 911 when a scam artist tries to rip their countertop. It’s very hard to eke laughs out of a story in which a child is basically being abused for cash, and Bob’s Burgers has never danced so close to the invisible divider that separates black comedy from farce.

Overall, it’s an interestingly flawed episode with some funny moments but some messy problems as well, ones that keep me from recommending the episode unreservedly.
The Roundup

  • In case you didn’t catch on from the incidental music, the plot is an irreverent tribute to the Breakfast Club, the popular 80s’ teen dramady created by John Hughes. Only the beginning, of course.

  • Exotic flavors at the Cotton Candy Festival include chimichurri and lasagna.
  • This week’s credit gags: Building Next Door: Shelfies: Pictures of Shelves Exterminator’s Truck: Bugs Done-sy Pest Control Chalkboard: Let’s Give Them Something Shiitake About Burger Credits: We get a song set to the tune of the famous Breakfast Club anthem ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me) as the kids dance with their cotton candy in the background in the manner of the famous dance scene from the movie.
  • I believe this is the first time we’ve ever seen Jocelyn’s mother.
  • Magazines offered to Bob and Linda by Sally: Lotion Monthly, Healthy Babies Digest, and Open Toe Living .
  • ”That’s an emotional-ass story, Mister Frond!”
  • Jimmy Junior and Zeke declare that they’re planning on moving in together sometime in the future and opening up their own mens’ clothing line, “Fancy Pants”.
  • “You hate it? Like, ironically?”
  • “I like clean lines and simple silhouettes!”
  • ”Tammy, Jocelyn, your flirty outfit would send the wrong message to the Chinese food delivery guy. His name is Enrique and he’s already very forward with me.”
  • “I don’t need a bracelet to sparkle. We all do – except for Tammy…”
  • Next Week: Bob’s Burgers takes a two-week-long Easter break. See you after!
7.8 GOOD

Though it’s not the most fashionable entry from the house o’ Bob, but all-in-all there’s laughter to be shared, and that never goes out of style. But, sadly, this is the weakest episode of the line thus far.

  • GOOD 7.8
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About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of Firefox.org, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.