Tina struggles with a class assignment because she forgot to read the required materials; Gene has trouble becoming a man. Amid his children's drama, Bob finds ephemeral joy in a flimsy RC helicopter. When it crashes upon its first successful landing, Bob seizes the perfect opportunity to fight for what is right and to help sculpt his son into a man of action, i.e., one who mactions!
The Highlight Reel
The kids come home from school, with Tina having a full-on freakout. She was supposed to do a book report on Jack London's The Call of the Wild but dropped the ball because of her impeccable hygiene:
Gene: Call of the Wild — is it about an insane telemarketer?
Louise: Or Gene in the bathroom?
Tina: I don’t know yet!
[+1 point to Gene for calmly foretelling his own future; +1 to Louise, even though that was a low blow; +2 to Tina for using literature as uppers.]
Bob finally receives an RC helicopter-slash-toy replica of the helicopter from True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, which he mail-ordered a while ago:
[+1 to Bob for trying to be a cool dad, because nothing says cool dad like, "Hey, look at my toy Arnold hanging off a helicopter to rescue toy Jamie Lee Curtis."]
When the family takes the heli out for a test flight, it doesn't go so well — and speed-reading Tina almost has a problem:
[+1 to Gene for inheriting Tina's stuttering anxiety; +2 to Bob for saving Tina's life twice; +1 to Linda for being a closet Jamie Lee fan; +1 to Louise for keeping her dad in cool check.]
Post-crash, tensions are high because Tina still hasn't read much, Gene feels like a failure, and Bob is pissed that his new toy crumpled like a napkin.
Tina: Hey, let’s all be quiet so Tina can read.
Gene: I’m not even Tom Arnold in True Lies. Or even in Roseanne.
[+1 to Tina for professional passive-aggression; +1 to Gene for mixing up celebrities; -1 to Gene for making us remember that Arnold and Roseanne were a thing.]
Bob decides to do something about the helicopter, calling the seller and demanding a refund:
Gene: He’s doing it! He’s Man-of-Action-ing, which I call mactioning!
[+1 to Gene for the beautifully badass word.]
The phone conversation didn't go so well, so Bob decides to demand his money back in person, heading to the seller's apartment with Gene in tow. Thus starting a father-son episode, with an overly proud son, equipped with a keyboard, taking center stage:
Gene: I want to sample what you say and play it over and over until I’ve got heroic instincts coming out of every orifice in my body.
[+1 to Gene for I guess literally exuding pride and heroics.]
Back at home, Tina's reading is still not going well, and she finally cracks:
Now an unspoken competition begins: Linda vies for parent of the episode with Tina and Louise by teaching them how to work their way around book reports (and later, citations), while Bob tries to maction with Gene. While Bob's methods are a little edgier, Linda's are ethically sketchier. She begins by turning Tina's book report into a song-and-dance routine, complete with costume and awkward Tina:
Naturally, Tina is disillusioned. She can do without books, and transferring to a new school sounds like a great idea:
Linda: You think those nuns won’t make you do book reports?
Louise: People never stop making you read books. It’s a sick world!
Linda: Gotta learn how to faux-dazzle it. Trust me, after tonight, you’ll never have to read a book again!
Tina: I love you, Mom.
[+1 to Linda for showing Tina that the world is a dark place only when your eyes are closed.]
The guy who sold Bob the True Lies helicopter, Sheldon (Dana Snyder), is a hobbyist-terrorist with an arsenal of souped-up flying toys. He has a poking drone, flying fish that shoot BBs, and dart-gun helicopters, among other aerial weapons.
Gene: Fish in the sky! This was in Revelations. Kirk Cameron was right!
[+1 to Gene for watching Kirk Cameron's movies and then saving them up for doomsday references.]
Bob and Gene go to buy more helicopters to battle Sheldon and win their money back. At a store called Hobby Hole, they learn that Sheldon is a disgruntled former employee who has a dark, cavalier history:
Terry: Let’s just say Sheldon ate a lot of food out of the fridge in the break room that didn’t belong to him and was clearly labeled. And when me and the rest of the Hobby Hole guys decided to gently approach him about it, he attacked us with helicopters. See this? [Shows knee.] One of Sheldon’s BBs got lodged in there, and now I no longer feel comfortable wearing shorts. Trust me, you don’t wanna go up against Sheldon!
Terry, a current Hobby Holer who was maimed by Sheldon, agrees to help Bob in his quest for a refund. It's kind of beautiful:
[+2 to Terry.]
Linda inspires Tina by scatting and tap dancing:
Linda: When your toes are tappin’, they think the reading musta happened.
[+2 to Linda.]
On the battlefield, Bob takes down one of Sheldon's helicopters, and there's a brief moment of glory before Bob gloats too much and almost falls off a roof:
Bob: This one’s for Jamie Lee! How’s Sheldon’s expression, Gene? Is he sad? Is he crying?
Gene: No, he’s eating something, and he’s got a new helicopter and he’s pointing it at you … and there’s a dart in your butt.
Gene: Wait, Dad. What about the ladder? That seems like a pretty good idea, and you’ve got a butt full of darts!
Bob: Yes, but I also have a butt full of principles.
[+100 to Bob/H. Jon Benjamin for PHRASING.]
Gene has a moral moment of clarity:
Gene: I came here today because I thought I needed to be a heroic man of action, but look at you, you’re all nuts! Is anything worth all of this? I mean, Terry, I’m sorry, you can’t wear shorts. I would be devastated myself, but still — also, just go to a doctor! Maybe sometimes the more heroic thing is to just let it the freak go. Now who’s going to be the bigger man here, and just let it go!
[+100 to Gene.]
In a bit of an interpretative-thematic-fluke-slash-freak-out, Tina nails her book report and gets an A, for sure:
[+10 to Tina, +10 to Linda.]
Linda won parent of the episode, but it was not in the finest of fashions. So the MVP this week goes to Gene, because he essentially transformed into Stan from South Park and became the navigator of this show's moral compass. He taught both himself and his dad a valuable lesson, and saved a lot of RC helicopters from their premature deaths in the process. There's hope for Gene's maction, after all; it's a joy to see him mature onscreen — especially if it still involves a keyboard monologue with farts.
Bob’s Bonus Sliders
- Wonder what Bob was protesting at church?
- RIP, Bob’s Good Nipple.
- Ring, ring. Who’s this calling on the phone? It’s the wild. Is anybody home?
- Incredible anticlimactic use of "Flight of the Valkyries."
- Bummed Teddy was a second too late.