Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim
Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
Welcome back to another adventure with our loveable hero Tom Peters just trying to make it work in the big city and be the best darn stepdad in the process! Okay, Jefferton is HARDLY what I’d call a “big city”, but it’s the place that Tom calls home and is where he goes on his wacky adventures with The Mayor; only half of which end in massive casualties! Now first things first, this episode has a slightly different visual style than any other episode in the series as it goes for more of a classic sitcom vibe with new music cues that evoke the feeling of shows like Full House or Family Matters (inoffensive instrumental tunes during scene transitions) and a few Tom Goes to the Mayor bumpers at the bottom of the screen like you’d see on network television. Now these are all fine ways of subverting the traditional sitcom formula, but I guess I’m a bit confused as to why these gimmicks were used for THIS episode specifically. The whole series is one great middle finger to the corporatized artifice masked over the realities of middle and lower class America which corny American sitcoms have reveled in and have helped perpetuate for decades, but I don’t really see THIS episode as being PARTICULARLY biting in that regard. Sure it’s messed up and has some dark moments as we’ll get to soon enough, but that basically describes every Tom Goes to the Mayor episode already! Still, it’s a decent enough gimmick for this kind of show and limiting it to a single episode ensures that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Anyway, the episode begins with Tom’s step-kids having heart attacks (all at the same time), so Tom goes to The Mayor to propose a health camp for children that will help his kids and many others lead more active and healthy lifestyles! Sounds like a great idea, right? Well too bad he brought it to The Mayor who’s already got a plan to twist it into something horrible that will not doubt get Tom in a whole lot of trouble. The Mayor has been a very stead patron of Pipe’s Buffet (an establishment right above his office) where he smokes copious amounts of tobacco while eating fatty meats.
Now why is this relevant? Well The Mayor is intrigued by Tom’s plan (despite him having no training in medicine, nutrition, or personal training) but will only do it if Pipe’s Buffet can be a sponsor; something that Tom is VERY hesitant about, but eventually caves in as he always does, though it doesn’t help that they are having this conversation in a smoke filled room despite being allergic to tobacco. With an ENORMOUS check of two hundred dollars from Pipe’s Buffet and a campsite already set up in the middle of town, Tom goes over to get to work on his latest dream! Sure, Pipe’s Buffet put up a sign that says Pipe Camp and pipes are already being handed out to the participating children, but Tom is ready to fight back and make this the fitness camp of his dreams! However, things get a little bit rocky once he meets the Pipe’s Buffet approved camp counsel Barb Dunderbarn (Sarah Silverman) who’s just Tom’s type and is ready to use her feminine wiles to chip away at Tom’s resolve.
I actually REALLY like Sarah Silverman in this episode as she’s playing up her dark and raunchy shtick, but in an entirely different way. Normally Sarah Silverman is crass and shameless in her act, but in this role she’s asked to be intentionally deceitful for incredibly evil ends; and she plays it with aplomb. I wouldn’t say she’s being SUBTLE about her seduction of Tom, but she’s certainly manipulating him by stroking ego so she can ultimately stab him in the back. Speaking back stabbings, The Mayor is absolutely in on this too as he’s back in the kitchen preparing some horrendously unhealthy meals for the children despite Tom’s instance that the menu contain healthier selections. Despite the camp clearly falling out of his control, he’s still under Barb’s hypnotic spell and even agrees to meet her for a candle lit dinner where she shows him a power point presentation (something I’m SURE is a huge turn on for Tom) about the importance of smoking pipes and eating fatty meats! Nothing more American than that!!
Now despite Barb’s impeccable seduction skills, Tom is STILL not quite ready to cheat on his wife Joy so instead he runs back to his cabin to… enjoy his OWN fatty beef steak, but before he can finish he smells something outside which is like a splash of cold water right on his face. It turns out that right after Tom left her cabin Barb collected all the children and are giving them each a pipe as well as step by step instructions on how to use them. Tom clearly should have known better, but his sense of betrayal at the hands of Barb Dunderbarn is no less real as there’s simply no salvaging the camp at this point.
The only thing Tom can do at this point is to blow the whistle on his own project, so he calls The Married News Team to squeal on Barb and The Mayor in their conspiracy to give children tobacco. Barb catches him in the middle of the phone call however and turns the charm up to eleven in an attempt to keep Tom placated, and oddly enough it seems to work. Despite knowing just what Barb is up to, he heads back to her cabin and even smokes a pipe with her. Right before they start making out though, the police arrive to raid the facility (presumably having been tipped off by the Married News Team) and Tom gets captured by a pack of police dogs. Barb and The Mayor manage to escape however which means that everything inevitably falls on Tom’s shoulders and he ends up placed under house arrest. A very odd form of house arrest though considering his tracking boot allows him to visit The Mayor at his office, but of course the allowable range ends up cutting off halfway through said office which makes it a little awkward to hold a conversation. The perpetually good natured Tom doesn’t have much to say to The Mayor despite leaving him with full responsibility for his own misdeeds and is even willing to try some of The Mayor’s fatty meats. However, in his attempt to get a slice of Beef Brisket, Tom gets JUST outside of range and is immediately assaulted with several tranquilizer darts with The Mayor smiling all the while. Seriously, dude. If you STILL can’t figure out that nothing The Mayor has ever done has been in your own best interest, it’s probably a GOOD thing that you’re no longer responsible for other people’s children!
This is one of those episodes that get just a little bit better every time you watch it. Maybe not enough to make it one of the all-time classic episodes of the series, but it’s packed to the brim with visual gags and offbeat humor that you notice something new almost every time you watch it; from the subtleties of Sarah Silverman’s seduction techniques to the myriad of unique and silly props that are peppered throughout the camp. Is there a reason for a candelabrum to be found in the middle of a cheap camp or for Tom to constantly have his fly down? Not really, but the fact that the episode doesn’t really call attention to these odd little details while also telling a solid story is a testament to just how much effort was put into each and every frame of the production. The story itself is yet another example of Tom betting pushed over by everyone around him which isn’t really a NEW premise for the series, but they make the most out of the simple set up that they have. You can draw parallels between Pipe Camp and any number of corporate sponsored goodwill efforts that are more of marketing exercises than anything else; even if there are people involved that have their hearts in the right place like Tom Peters here (*cough* Ronald McDonald House *cough*). Heck, if you REALLY want to get serious, look no further than the Salvation Army which has DECADES of abusive horror stories against the LGBT community, yet still continues to get a free pass from the public at large! The only difference here is that someone ACTUALLY got caught for their crimes and was punished for it. Sure, it was the wrong guy, but then again Tom Peters getting punished can only really help the dude in the long run and he’s HARDLY innocent in all this considering he didn’t do a whole lot to stop Barb and the Mayor from perverting the values that the camp was supposed to be built on. It’s not one of the most insightful episodes out there and doesn’t have the best jokes, but even when the series isn’t at its best it’s STILL better than most at shining a light on the unpleasant aspects of our society that we never even really think about. HOPEFULLY we’ll all learn the lessons that Tom never could and will avoid getting fifteen blow darts to the back!
The Recap Recap!!
- Sarah Silverman plays the Camp Council Barb Dunderbarn who tries to seduce Tom and undermine his health camp at every turn!
- Seasoned voice actor Fred Tatasciore (Robot Chicken, American Dad, and many other shows) plays the police officer conducting the raid on Pipe Camp!
- No appearance from Bob Odenkirk I’m afraid, though I WOULD have loved to see his take on Barb Dunderbarn!
Tom Who Now?
- Everyone gets Tom’s name right in this episode, surprisingly enough! I guess if Pipe’s Buffet is gonna set someone up to be a patsy, they will at least have the courtesy of getting their name right.
Fun Facts from the Commentary!
(NOTE: Since Tim & Eric are… well Tim & Eric, anything said on the DVD commentaries should PROBABLY be taken with a grain of salt)
- During the production of the series, there was a period where Tim & Eric got REALLY obsessed with pipes and pipe smoking which is where a decent amount of premise here came from.
- At one point, Tom (due to his aversion to swearing) says “What the Harry” which is actually an expression that came from Tim Heidecker’s father.
The Bonus Screenshot
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