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Western Animation / Bob and Margaret

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Bob and Margaret is a British/Canadian animated sitcom produced by Nelvana in association with Channel 4 and Global Television Network. It was created by the husband-and-wife animation duo of Alison Snowden and David Fine, being based on their Academy Award-winning 1993 National Film Board of Canada short Bob's Birthday.

The show focuses on Bob and Margaret Fish, a middle-aged middle class couple living in Balham in South London. With the show being a very grounded series, Bob and Margaret live very ordinary lives. Bob is a dentist and Margaret is a chiropodist; they have no children but two dogs named William and Elizabeth. They deal with mundane issues very typical for a couple in their 40s, like midlife crises, shopping problems, annoying friends or neighbors, and family members who seem to be living much more successful lives than them.

In the show's third season, Bob and Margaret moved to Toronto, a directional change necessitated by Canadian Content funding's increasing role in the show's production (Channel 4 had dropped out of funding the show after the first season), and this requiring the show to have a Canadian setting. Nevertheless, the change opened up a wider range of stories for the writers to work with, as Bob and Margaret struggled with adapting to Canadian culture.

Bob and Margaret ran for 4 seasons and 52 episodes from 1998 to 2001. While the series has largely faded into obscurity, even in its home countries, Bob and Margaret stands out as one of the few Canadian animated shows (particularly among adult-oriented shows) to ever have regular American exposure, where it was broadcast on Comedy Central (and later Showtime) and even managed to rival CC darling South Park in the ratings. It also became the highest rated Canadian TV series ever when it first aired on Global during its primetime block. Additionally, its grounded and relatable tone and comedy have earned it a small cult following among British and Canadian TV viewers who fondly remember the series, thanks partially to continued reruns of the show for several years after it ended.

Nelvana uploaded the first two seasons of the show onto their Retro Rerun channel in 2021.

Provides examples of:

  • All Just a Dream: "Holiday" contains a sequence where terrorists hijack the plane that Bob and Margaret are on. Thankfully, it's only a dream.
  • Always Someone Better: Daisy keeps undermining Bob's accomplishments by comparing him to Peter, much to Bob's chagrin.
  • Artistic License – Politics: In "The Candidate", Margaret runs for city council in Toronto. As a British citizen, she would be ineligible to run.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Dr. Stanway in "A Tale of Two Dentists", who set up a bogus dental practice for the purpose of molesting patients.
  • Canada, Eh?: The third and fourth seasons, but this was because of Real Life Writes the Plot when it stopped being a Canada-United Kingdon co-production.
  • Culture Clash: Happens in the season three episode "Driving Bob", when Bob tries to get a driver's license in Canada.
  • Depraved Dentist: Averted with Bob who is a Nice Guy. Played straight with Dr. Stanway.
  • Ditzy Secretary: Penny isn't actively ditzy so much as she's extremely apathetic, but she's equally useless in her job. Although Bob often fantasizes about her, she isn't terribly attractive, either - he just happens to be in the middle of his Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis and he'd probably imagine being with any woman other than Margaret.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Margaret gets her teeth cleaned at Dr. Stanway's in "A Tale of Two Dentists" because Bob can't fit her in for an appointment at his own practice. When Bob confronts her about it when she gets home, the conversation definitely is similar to one spouse having an affair. The scene even ends with Margaret accusing Bob of driving her to Stanway's and running upstairs crying.
  • Fat and Skinny: Boney and Beany, the burglars in the British seasons, as well as Trevor and Joyce, Bob and Margaret's neighbors in the Canadian seasons.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: This happens when the later seasons bring up clips from the first two seasons, mainly with Andy Hamilton still voicing Bob and other characters whose voice actors have been changed since the move to Canada.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Becomes rather noticeable in the episode "Cuckoo in the Nest", as Margaret supervises her student, Nathan, diagnosing a patient's foot, he notes that there's some flakiness around the fourth and fifth toes, despite the patient only having four toes.
  • Gallows Humor: At the end of "A Tale of Two Dentists", the radio broadcaster who reports on the depraved Dr. Stanway manages to work in a dentistry-related zinger, despite the seriousness of the story:
    Reporter: "The so-called Dr. Stanway had previously set up a bogus orthodontic surgery. A spokesman for the police said that he'll be cleaning plaque off the inside of a toilet for the next few years now. (chuckles) That's a good one, I like that. (chuckles) Oh gosh... let's have a look at the weather."
  • Game Night Fight: In the episode "Friends For Dinner", the couple visit Neil and Moira, a snide couple they only passively like and visited on the assumption they would be getting a meal. Instead they are treated to a board game, "What Would They Do?", where the opposing couples must guess what the other would do in a moral dilemma. Quite expectedly the game leads to heavy tension, especially when Neil repeatedly assumes the two would fail each situation, leading Margaret to blast at them for treating them to such a horrible night and storm out the house, with Bob meekly following. Moira in turn smashes the game on Neil's head, finally tired of his odious behaviour.
  • Here We Go Again!: "Bob's Burglary", which ends with the two burglars busting into Bob and Margaret's house again.
  • Line Boil: For the first season and most of the second, but this was because it went with a house style common to British Series of this era.
  • Mood Whiplash: The above-mentioned hijacking scene, though thankfully imaginary, is a surprisingly morbid and violent spurt of Black Comedy from a show whose humor is otherwise fairly grounded and focused on the mundane.
  • No Antagonist: There isn't a Big Bad or Arc Villain in this show throughout its entire run; the main cause of conflicts are mundane things, marital misunderstandings and arguments or cultural issues like British/American/Canadian relations. At best, there'll be a Jerkass or Villainy-Free Villain who doesn't actually do much villainy other than being threatening or acting like a jerk.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Margaret, a professional chiropodist, is once asked to deal with a patient's dog who has a bad foot. Despite insistence from Margaret it was a one-off, stories still go through that she treats pets for free, leading her to be hounded by dozens of people who want their pets' feet looked at, sometimes even ones that don't have toes and simply seem to be people obsessed with free stuff.
  • Not Wanting Kids Is Weird: A recurring theme of the series; Bob and Margaret don't want kids but people think they should. They did consider having a baby in the season one episode, "A Night In", but after spending some time with some friends and their obnoxious baby, they ultimately decided to remain childless.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: In "Blood, Sweat and Tears", Bob and Margaret try playing tennis to work out because their masseur is getting tired of having to fix Margaret's spine. Despite this, at the end of the episode, Margaret throw her back out trying to pickup a ball.
    Manseur: I am sick and tired of telling you!
  • Parental Favouritism: Bob's mother Daisy exhibits this in spades, and even outright admits that Peter is her favourite. His father also seems to treat Peter better than Bob though according to Daisy, Bob is his father's favourite which oddly enough makes their only daughter Susan The Un-Favourite.
  • Precision F-Strike: In "Friends For Dinner", Bob and Margaret play a board game with Neil and Moira. The object of the game is to guess whether the player would do the moral or immoral thing in an ethical dilemma. On Margaret's turn, her dilemma is that she borrowed some can openers from a neighbor and forgot to return them. Margaret, already cranky from not eating dinner (despite assuming that the couple would feed them), and now being accused of hypothetically not returning the can openers by Neil, lets an F-bomb loose, despite not cursing normally. Neil, Moira, their fish and even Bob are just a bit unnerved by this:
    Margaret: "I would not keep the fucking can opener."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Margaret gives one to Neil and Moira in "Friends For Dinner".
    Margaret: "Oh, good, another Domestic Dilemma. This is for you, Neil. 'You and your lovely wife are guests for dinner at a friend's house. You are fed delicious, carefully prepared food and are invited back on a number of occasions. Eventually, you feel just a bit guilty, and then invite these friends back to your house. Do you give them a nice dinner, akin to what you have received, or do you give them a glass of wine and a little bowl of dry roasted peanuts?'"
    (Bob, Neil and Moira all chuckle nervously)
    Moira: "Wh-what—what do you mean? I-Is this a joke?"
    Margaret: "Let me save you the trouble! I'll tell you what you would do! You would give them the nuts and the wine and you would make them play this stupid game, because you are—and let's be honest, because otherwise, 'what's the point of the game?'—you are selfish, rude, and incredibly dull people who I cannot stomach being with for another second!"
    (Neil and Moira gasp in shock as Margaret storms out, leaving Bob behind. After a few moments, Margaret storms back in)
    Margaret: "We're having another big dinner party of the 12th! Why don't you two go bowling?!" (she storms out again, slamming the door)
  • Rousing Speech: Averted in "The Dental Convention". Bob is asked by a fellow dentist to give a speech at a dentist's convention; he has severe writer's block and decides to throw out his speech and just wing it on stage. Instead of spouting a lot of "positive" buzz words and phrases, he mostly gripes and make wisecracks about the modern dentist industry. Surprisingly, it ends up winning over the crowd, which was sick of the kinds of speeches that all the other dentists gave.
  • Status Quo Is God: Unlike some Sitcom or Britcoms, it largely avoided this. But this is zig-zagged by the fact not all changes stick, but many are more semi-permanent such as them becoming British expats in Canada.
  • Suburbia: Bob's cousin Melvin and his wife Cookie live in Mississauga, just west of Toronto.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bob's receptionist when they move to Toronto has the same dour expression and general aloofness as Penny, his old receptionist back in England. The only difference is that Heather seems to be more outspoken and less judgmental which might play into the differences between Canadians and the English/Brits.
  • "Ugly American" Stereotype: The episode "Undefined Border" in Season 3, which focuses on a day trip into the U.S. for shopping, is a downplayed example of this trope; yes, the Americans are a bit loud, but they mean well. However, it was done as satire on the Canadian-American relationship and day-to-day attitudes on the relationship between Canadians and Americans at the time. This episode, notably, aired on August 23, 2001, 2 weeks before the 9/11 attacks. It's also notable as the only episode in the series where Americans are mentioned or focused on in any capacity.