Review: Bob’s Burgers “I Bob Your Pardon”

It’s turkey lurkey time!

Overview (Spoilers!) 

The Belchers attend their town’s annual Thanksgiving “turkey pardon.” Linda is pumped to see the mayor, but Bob would rather be buying cranberries, and the kids would rather be just about anywhere else (and their argument about store-bought vs. homemade cranberry sauce isn’t helping them enjoy themselves). But when they overhear local government official Marsha admitting that she’ll bring the turkey—a Mr. Drew P. Neck—to a slaughterhouse rather than a sanctuary, Tina demands justice and government accountability.

The Belcher family follows Marsha’s car down the highway to a rest stop parking lot. The kids steal Drew out of her car and are confronted by a Ralph, a journalist who wants to write a story on this government coverup scandal. They drive Drew to the woods and set him free—only to discover that the forest is infested with turkey-eating coyotes. Louise scares them off, and they recapture the turkey.

Nearly foiled by Marsha at every turn, the Belchers finally take Drew to a farm, or more specifically the home of Double Butt (of season 6 “Stand By Gene” fame). Marsha planned ahead and called in the deputy mayor to foil their scheme. He takes Drew from the kids, but when Bob reminds Marsha how terrible her job is, she quits and hands Drew over to the Belchers. They gift Drew to the farmer, under the condition that he won’t eat him. The deputy mayor threatens to prevent Ralph’s story from being printed, but it’s printed.

In the end, Bob gets to wade in the farmer’s cranberry marsh. The Belchers eat homemade cranberry sauce and hypocritically devour their own turkey.

Our Take 

It’s time for yet another Bob’s Burgers Thanksgiving special. While I’m getting tired of the frequent turkey-themed plotlines (why does any show need seven Thanksgiving specials? Most shows don’t even have one!), this was a reasonably funny episode with a plot that wasn’t too cookie-cutter for my taste. I was admittedly a little confused about the concept of a turkey pardon until I googled it and discovered that the U.S. President really performs a pardon each and every year. It’s funny to translate that national phenomenon into local government, but it might have been nice to feature some brief explanation for viewers that aren’t familiar with the custom. I don’t get why the humans pardon the turkey in this ceremony—shouldn’t the turkey be pardoning us for eating his kin? Anyhoo.

Comedy highlights:

  • Bob saying it’s dumb “treating the turkey like it’s a person”—as he’s talking to his own turkey cooking in the oven.
  • “The only pardon I need to see is Dolly!”
  • Linda’s weird obsession with the mayor.
  • “The turkey hasn’t been to prison.” “What are you, his lawyer?”
  • “Maybe she meant ciderhouse. That place rules.”
  • Gene apparently told someone he had a car and would help him move?
  • An entire family flips off the Belchers (INCLUDING the baby).
  • Ralph and Bob fumbling over whether or not Bob can drive with the trunk open.
  • Linda feeling bad for their nemesis Marsha when Marsha insults her own coverup skills.
  • “I will NOT go to Hell. I am going to HEAVEN.”
  • The existence of a cranberry bog.

It is funny to see members of tiny local government take themselves so seriously, but in the intensely heated political climate of 2018, it feels a little weird to do a general “the government is incompetent and shifty” episode. Not that Bob’s should necessarily call out specific political figures or events, as that’s not usually this show’s style, but “I Bob Your Pardon” feels so completely removed from current events that it’s hard to reconcile with the current political situation. It is uplifting, though, that the episode ends with a corrupt government official completely failing to silence the press.

The car chase in this episode is scary in its realism—as someone who frequently drives on highways, I held my breath in terror at the idea of slamming into divider cones at 70 miles an hour, or skimming the guardrail of an exit ramp. But this sequence would be a lot more thrilling if last week’s episode didn’t also feature a high-stakes car chase. Bob’s turkey heist exploits are too close to his getaway driver escapades with Edith to feel fresh. Additionally, this is the third episode this season where the Belchers care for an animal and the second where they specifically take care of fowl. Plus, how many times have we seen a plot where Louise pretended not to have a conscience but ends up caring deeply for something small and cute? So many times. Although watching her chase off those coyotes with her screams alone is indeed gratifying.

The scenery in this episode is lovely. I don’t usually think of “gorgeous animation” in the same sentence as Bob’s Burgers, but the crisp fall colors present in the foliage and skies and cornfields are truly pretty. The Belchers’ coats also help to lend this episode a distinctly fall ambiance.

And once again, Bob’s brings back side characters I never expected to see again, this time in the form of Double Butt and the farmer. I do wish more had been done with the farmer—that we would see for sure whether he chooses to raise Drew as his own or eat him because both could make for pretty funny scenes. Double Butt and the turkey could become friends? I don’t know, maybe that’s fodder for a future episode.

All in all, this is a solidly okay episode. I’m glad we get a story where all of the Belchers are together for a change, but the plot didn’t really grab me, and at the end of the day there isn’t much of a message to come away with. We should be honest? We should talk to people instead of taking action? Freedom of the press is important? Homemade cranberry sauce rules? Beats me. I did laugh a fair amount while watching this episode, so I guess that’s something to be thankful for.


Bodie Shanis

Bodie is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can often find him in odd costumes, either because he's at an anime convention or performing in a musical. He's currently working on his first novel.

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