Bob's Burgers "Tina-Rannosaurus Wrecks" Review: Liar, Liar, House on Fire

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Dec 03, 2012

Bob's Burgers S03E07: “Tina-Rannosaurus Wrecks”

When comedies escalate, there’s always the risk of things toppling over the peak, getting to the point where everything stops being funny, and you start to wonder why the writers didn’t have the self-control necessary to pull back on their ideas just enough to keep things working.

That was not the case in “Tina-Rannosaurus Wrecks.” The episode started off small and then grew bigger and then scaled itself back as it reached the end of its story. It was expertly constructed and there was some really stellar voice work to boot.

Even within the narrative of the episode itself, the story started off small, with Tina slowly crashing into the only vehicle in an otherwise empty parking lot and ruining the Belcher family car. Goodness knows that I had similar nerve-racking experiences when I learned how to drive (I think I groaned like Tina the entire time, too...), and I think it’s a sort of universal anxiety, one that isn’t specific to Tina’s various neuroses.

Tina was ready to come clean about the whole thing with the insurance agent, Chase (voiced by Bob Odenkirk), but Bob instructed her lie about it and say that he was the one who hit the car. It was easy enough of a lie for easy enough of a situation, but Tina, incapable of lying, needed a backstory... which she then embellished with a butterfly, and then there was a cormorant (“What an auspicious sign!”) to try and cover for nervousness.

So there was a small thing, and then escalation with the lies. But then Chase invited Bob to cater a barbeque. It seemed fishy to be sure, but we felt like we were in the clear. And then Tina burned down Chase’s house. It was hysterical, really, everyone’s concern about keeping up the insurance lie while they fretted about the smoldering wreck of Chase’s home.

That's where things could’ve gone too far with Tina being a jinx and a klutz and her doing something equally absurd and Chase just turning out to be the world’s most understanding insurance guy ever. Instead, the episode pivoted and had Chase looking to commit massive amounts of insurance fraud as he had seen through the story about the car collision. It wasn't much of a narrative surprise, but it helped the whole house-burning thing not seem less over-the-top.

Which allowed that deliriously staged reaction to the kids pretending to have drowned in the flooded basement to be massively overplayed, complete with Bob tearing his shirt in anguish, and still not feel like too much. It was all carefully built, and when the show tossed in Gene’s keyboard as the way out, it was an organic solution since Gene is never without that device.

So this top-notch script also gave Dan Mintz his Emmy submission episode. He’s never been better as Tina than he was here, and his exchanges with H. Jon Benjamin were simply pitch-perfect. There was a mix of everything that’s quintessential to Tina, including the groaning, the sighing, the wistful sexual longing, and the anxious shouting. It was a perfect sample of everything Mintz does well all in one episode, and it certainly deserves to be recognized.

Notes & Quotes

– "Burger of the Day" board: Open Sesame Burger (served open face on a sesame seed bun); Don’t Give No Chive Burger, and Pickle My Funny Bone Burger. THIS SHOW MAKES ME SO HUNGRY. I AM STARVING RIGHT NOW FOR A BURGER.

– Mort driving Gene and Louise around had some nice moments, culminating in that open house scene, but the story was massively overshadowed by the A-plot.

– “I call shotgun!” “I call coffin!”

– “He plays lacrosse and he loves me. But he loves lacrosse more.”

– “I would kill for that hairline!” “I believe you would!”

– Tina’s “Everything’s okay” faces? Priceless.

– "But you're playing fire... and water, literally."

– Linda's diarrhea song was not as good as her other songs. Eugh.

  • Comments (10)
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  • zaidghazi Dec 04, 2012

    I loved this episode. So good. Probably the best of the season.

  • noelrk Dec 05, 2012

    So far, I'd probably agree. With "Ears-y Rider" a very close second.

  • JT_Kirk Dec 03, 2012

    Funny how different takes can be. I am glad some folks liked this one, while for me this episode didn't work mainly because of the "things in the Bouchardiverse that happen only to move the plot" effect, stuff like Bob not grabbing the wheel so as to avoid the only car, the world's most understanding insurance adjuster being incredibly evil, that sort of jazz that would crop up a lot on Dr. Katz and Home Movies so as to move the plot along.

    I actually really liked Odenkirk's reading on his character before the "evil" kicked in, his "evil" acting is so big that it overwhelms everything else; when he was nice it was probably my favorite read he's ever done, very zen and pleasant, I could have lived with him being zen and yet not incompetent and the story developing from the guilt Tina and Bob felt.

    This episode's meanness was also another factor, and was punctuated by Jimmy Pesto, a character whose sole reason for being is to make our protagonist unhappy, as if there's nothing else in this guy's life than being a jerk to Bob Belcher. If everything dumps on Bob, it takes me out of the moment and becomes too cartoonish, too lazy from sitcom writing. It's like Hugo, he has no redeeming quality, only here it's twice as bad because everything's crapping on Bob and every outside character is out to do him in, one way or another.

    As a technical aspect, while the acting was good all around, this was the first episode where I constantly heard Linda and Tina sounding like they were voiced by male actors (which, of course, they are, but generally it doesn't come through much).

    First time I was behind the wheel of a car while alone, I was pulling up behind another car and panicked, pulling the parking brake. I didn't hit anything.

  • noelrk Dec 03, 2012

    I can see that take. I obviously don't agree, but I absolutely see where you're coming from with that.

    Odenkirk was really good here, thanks mentioning him. I like the zen aspect, and I would even almost make it into a "jovial zen." It was very not him at the start. And then became more arch, and it felt more like Saul from Breaking Bad. It's not necessarily bad or anything, but I think you hit on why I ended up focusing on Mintz instead of Odenkirk.

    I had a panic attack once during a driving lesson. I wasn't even on the road. I was just attempting to park and had a very weird breakdown. SHARING IS FUN.

  • buildam2005 Dec 03, 2012

    I liked this episode more as it progressed. For whatever reason, the opening act annoyed me--something about Tina just made me want to slap her (I don't have kids, and this might explain why), and she just seemed obnoxious rather than funny.

    As the half-hour progressed, though, I got way more into it. Tina stopped being annoying and did become the comedic outcast I love. And the attempted drowning fake-out was great.

  • buildam2005 Dec 03, 2012

    Plus I couldn't figure out why Bob didn't just yank the wheel and turn them away from the other car as they approached it. He certainly could have overpowered Tina and done that. Might have upset her, but far less than what happened as a result.

  • JT_Kirk Dec 03, 2012

    He could have been trying to show faith in her so that she herself would make that choice, but we didn't get any statement on it so it came off as an oddity.

  • noelrk Dec 03, 2012

    The narrative sacrifices we make for comedy.

  • riddler062 Dec 03, 2012

    You missed the best scene. Tina's Hell Jail.
    -"What's for lunch today?"
    -"Your lies"
    -"Nooo, we had that yesterday"

  • noelrk Dec 03, 2012

    If I talked about everything in an episode, what would you all have to talk about then?