Bob’s Burgers sought to build on its strong season opener with the heist episode “The Taking of Funtime One Two Three.” In most regards, it succeeded, but there were more missteps this week as well.
The episode centers on Louise’s efforts to win a dune buggy at the Chuck E. Cheese-style Family Funtime. The dune buggy costs an astounding 10,000 tickets, and Louise’s little earnings won’t get the job done. After securing some more quarters from her parents, Louise, along with Tina and Gene, are stopped by landlord Calvin Fischoeder, who gives her a tip to score big in her favorite skee-ball game.
While skeptical, Louise finds that Mr. Fischoeder’s tips are actually right on the money. However, after hitting the jackpot twice, Family Funtime attendant Trip (guest voiced by Jack McBrayer) shuts down the machine for inspection. Now even more determined to win the dune buggy, Louise seeks Mr. Fischoeder’s help, as he has it out for Family Funtime’s promotion and its potential to put “the prize economy in danger” (read: obligate him to offer a similar prize at Wonder Wharf.)
Referencing his most prized unwinnable, practically worthless prize, a large stuffed wooly mammoth on roller skates that’s been there for ages, Mr. Fischoeder gives the kids the skinny on the rigged nature of carnival games. He then shows the kids a multitude of discontinued Wonder Wharf prize redemption games, similar to the ones at Family Funtime, that he will train them in so they may win the dune buggy.
However, the operation is too risky for just the three of them, so he suggests they form a team, Ocean’s 11-style. The Belcher Kids manage to recruit Zeke, Jimmy Jr., Darryl and twins Andy and Ollie for the operation (in an amusing segment where Mr. Fischoeder refers to the kids as degrading and weird nicknames because he can’t be bothered to learn their real names.) The kids get good enough at the games that it’s nearly show time, with the heist planned for a Saturday as Family Funtime staff will be busy with birthday parties.
Before Saturday, however, Louise decides to case Family Funtime one last time. Noticing the photo booth, which is integral to their plan for discreetly giving up excess tickets, is missing its curtain, Louise tries to find a blind spot in the camera network. Unfortunately, she is caught and banned from Family Funtime, and the kids, angered by her acting alone, decide to proceed without her.
The planned heist seems to be going off without a hitch, but then all the kids are caught at once. In the security office, we are given the episode’s first big reveal; Mr. Fischoeder is co-owner of Family Funtime. Using the kids as a demonstration of the folly of offering such a big prize, he succeeds in having the dune buggy promotion pulled. Louise then walks into the security office, touching off the episode’s second big reveal.
As it turns out, Louise had figured out the scheme, and Mr. Fischoeder’s role in it, while getting her picture taken in the security office. She, and the rest of the crew, faked their falling out to deflect any suspicion, and while they proceeded with the Family Funtime plan, she would go to Wonder Wharf to get back at Mr. Fischoeder. By using what he had taught everyone, she succeeded in winning the Wharf’s “unwinnable” prize. The kids gladly take their impractical prize home, glad they had pulled the wooly wool over Mr. Fischoeder’s eyes.
Meanwhile, Teddy, having received a chicken as payment for a job, gives it to Bob and Linda in the hopes that the chicken will provide them with a large supply of farm fresh eggs. However, days pass, and the chicken has not laid a single egg, and attempts to get it to do so, such as by scaring it and singing to it, prove unfruitful.
It isn’t until the kids bring the stuffed mammoth home that the chicken is finally able to lay an egg, as in one. The experience causes Bob to muse about the days in which he would simply buy eggs at the store.
For a B story, it’s rather weak. The gag is abandoned partway through and never really brings us that payoff. It’s also the second straight week in which Teddy kicks off the side story and then is promptly forgotten, which is a shame because he’s a better character than that.
Fortunately, the rest of the episode is carried along quite well by the heist story. It’s not the first time Bob’s Burgers has given us a fun heist story involving the kids (see season 4’s aptly titled “The Kids Rob a Train), but the episode managed to create an engaging story involving our favorite bunch of classmates. Even if the stakes weren’t so high, the enjoyment was.
As always, Kevin Kline’s Calvin Fischoeder is a delightful trip. Speaking of Trips, Jack McBrayer’s Trip is a good guest appearance as well. While he was used more than Josh Gad’s Damon last week, he still didn’t have a whole lot of screen time. But he did a great job with Trip’s passive-aggressive manner as the kids’ foil.
There are some other things that worked with the episode. Making the mammoth, as well as the rumble of the nearby rollercoaster, more than simple background was a neat device, ditto interspersing the shots of the kids learning the games with Louise’s ultimate success of winning the mammoth. There was also the chicken’s exasperated look as Bob and Linda sing to it (with the very Linda-like ditty “Making egg rolls from your egg hole.”) Animals are drawn pretty realistically in Bob’s Burgers, but props to the animators for making the chicken’s expression look quite natural.
All in all, “The Taking of Funtime One Two Three” is a solid episode despite its flaws. While not as strong as the opener, it’s still a fun ride to start the season.
Final verdict: B
Bob’s Burgers airs Sundays on the Fox Network.