Our favorite burger-flipping family is back for another season. So how did “Just One of the Boyz 4 Now for Now” do in kicking off season 9? In two words: very well.
The episode starts with the Belcher family at breakfast when a news report comes on announcing that auditions for the newest member of everyone’s favorite boy band, Boyz 4 Now, are being held locally. With Boo Boo’s departure, and with their latest album bombing out, the band is looking for a new fourth member to join their ranks.
While getting the restaurant ready for what Bob perceives will be increased traffic due to the heat wave, Tina runs out to the car to get napkins. It is here she (literally) bumps into Damon, one of the aspiring entrants for the boy band. It’s love at first sight for Tina, and she resolves to head down to the auditions. There’s just two problems.
First, due to girls resorting to drastic measures, such as climbing through air ducts to catch a glance at the band, they are forbidden from the auditions. Second, as Tina’s family notes, she has a tendency to fall in and out of love quite often (she even once fell in love with a mannequin, as amusingly shown in flashbacks), so the family thinks her love for Damon will pass. Regardless, Bob and Linda, thinking she’ll be found out quickly, allow Tina to head to the auditions, dressed in Gene’s Little Orphan Annie wig and sweats and calling herself “Dino.”
Tina, in an effort to prove to the rest of her family that she’s not boy-crazy (just “boy-focused” as she puts it), sets out to find Damon at the auditions. However, she’s quickly distracted by the amount of boys in line (“So many butts, age 12 to 17!”), and her run-ins with the various other Boyz 4 Now hopefuls just ends with her imagining them singing to her.
Back at the restaurant, Teddy comes in with an urgent proposition. He found a baby rat at one of his job sites, and asks Bob and the family to take care of it for him for a few hours. Understandably so, Bob refuses, until he actually gets a look at the tiny rodent (“I’m crying. I would die for this rat.”) and agrees to take him in.
In what is probably not the most sanitary move, the family puts the baby rat in the kitchen. It gets a little more hairy when Hugo, Bob’s antagonistic health inspector, shows up for a few glasses of water to combat making his rounds in the heat wave. He is about to leave when he hears the baby rat squeak. Having seen this situation before (but never explaining how), he investigates the kitchen. He is finally thwarted and leaves when it’s surmised Bob might have put the baby rat in his pants (spoiler: he did).
At the auditions, Tina is able to use the distraction of another girl dressed as a boy getting caught by security to catch Damon at the front of the line. Before she can express her feelings, Damon introduces “Dino” to his best friend Hayden. After imagining another ballad, this time a duet, Tina finally comes to terms with her boy-crazy, “nuts for butts” nature, and decides to let Damon go.
While caught by security, Tina, and the rest of the family, is allowed to stick around for the reveal of the fourth member of Boyz 4 Now. It’s Boo Boo, as he has reconciled with the rest of the band, which thrills both Tina and Louise. The episode culminates in one final musical number, “The Right Amount of Boys.”
“Just One of the Boyz 4 Now for Now” is a great Tina-centric episode with the added bonus of being a capably-executed musical, with Tina’s imagination serving as the vehicle for the various songs. The songs range from a John Hughes movie-inspired piece to the aforementioned duet, complete with rap battle. The final number is also a blast, as it pays homage to all of Tina’s crushes throughout the show’s history, including zombie basketball players from her “friend fiction” in season 4’s “The Frond Files” and Jeff the ghost in a shoebox from season 5’s “Tina and the Real Ghost.”
Sure, the songs are campy and slightly cringe-worthy, but that’s because they originate from Tina’s mind. It’s a great device.
Comedian Josh Gad provides a guest voice for this episode as Damon. However, aside from a few lines and a couple musical numbers, Gad feels underutilized. You can also see Hugo’s sudden appearance in the restaurant coming a mile away. While the family does go to amusing lengths to try and remove him, showing off some of that great Belcher teamwork, the conclusion to the B story falls a little flat.
However, these are only minor gripes to what is a very good opener for Bob’s Burgers ninth season. “Just One of the Boyz 4 Now for Now” did a much better job at playing off the established character traits, from Tina’s obsessive nature to Bob’s turn-on-a-dime switch from stern patriarch to big ol’ softie, than last season’s opener “Brunchsquatch” did. It may be a fairly high bar for the rest of the season to follow, but it’s good to see the show rumble out of the gates, like it’s capable of doing.
Final verdict: A-
Bob’s Burgers airs Sundays on the Fox Network.