Last night marks the first season finale for FOX’s Bob’s Burgers. In the episode, “Torpedo,” Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) takes his family to the minor league ball park, where they meet Bob’s idol, Torpedo (Robert Ben Garant, Reno 911!). Torpedo seems nice enough to the family, even praising Bob on his burgers and asking for one at the start of every game. But then Bob finds out that Torpedo is using the burger grease to cheat on his pitching, and becomes disillusioned. Worse, Bob’s son Gene (Eugene Mirman) thinks that cheating is now OK, and does it himself in a mascot race. Bob tries to convince Gene to do the right thing. Meanwhile, Tina (Dan Mintz) becomes the team’s ball girl, and falls in love with every single player while hanging out in the dugout and slapping their butts.
The start of Bob’s Burgers is mediocre, but the series has certainly earned its place among the other Sunday night, adult-oriented cartoons by now. The humor is smart and quick, and the characters are quirky and funny. Besides Benjamin, who also voices the title character on FX’s Archer, the recurring cast includes movie and stage legend Kevin Kline as Bob’s landlord, Mr. Fischoeder. How many animated shows can boast that much gravitas?
Last night’s episode is true to the series, demonstrating that Bob is a great parent. He struggles with moral dilemmas himself after seeing his idol exposed, but when it comes to his kids, Bob has a pretty strong moral compass. Not only is he willing to do anything to protect them and raise them correctly, he is also willing to let his business suffer because of it. Unlike other fathers in the Animation Domination block, Bob is genuine and sweet almost all the time, without being overbearing. He gives his kids good advice, but allows them room to make mistakes and their own decisions.
The kids on Bob’s Burgers really make the show. Each is bizarre, but in a very defined, consistent way. Tina is currently obsessed with boys, Louise (Kristen Schaal) dreams of being a criminal mastermind, and Gene is up for anything, and has simple, easily achievable dreams. Louis may be the best, but she gets little to do this week. Instead, the focus shifts to the other children, who usually are overshadowed by Louise. It is nice to see Tina interested in a boy other than Jimmy Jr., though the two do make a cute couple. Gene, despite still being dim, manages to learn a lesson. Somewhat.
Sadly, doing right does not always pay off. While Gene does listen to his father and stops cheating, another mascot has no such qualms, and Gene loses. This is realistic, and the way the characters don’t let it discourage them too much provides a nice lesson. While not preachy, Bob’s Burgers is certainly the most wholesome of the Sunday night cartoons.
The series is not all about the heart, though. There are plenty of great jokes. For instance, when Gene wins a gold medal in the race, his mother, Linda (John Roberts), wants to have it bronzed. This is just one example of the off-beat brand of humor that Bob’s Burgers brings to a night full of the same type of show, setting it apart.
Thankfully, Bob’s Burgers is being given a second season, and will return next winter, mid-season, to FOX.