What to say about FOX’s new animated sitcom, Bob’s Burgers? Pushing American Dad to 7:30 starting next week because FOX Sunday is so stuffed with animation that it’s spilling out of primetime, I’m not sure Bob’s Burgers deserves that kind of clout. Putting it up against the other four series in Animation Domination, I’d put either Bob’s Burgers or The Cleveland Show in that 7:30 slot, so I’m kind of disappointed. Bob’s Burgers is funny, but not hilarious.
The show revolves around the Belcher family, who run a restaurant called, appropriately enough, Bob’s Burgers. Husband, Bob (H. Jon Benjamin, the star of Archer), is the boss and owner. He’s a loud mouth, stubborn, ignorant jerk, who somehow happens to still be amusing. That could be thanks to Benjamin’s not-small talent. Wife, Linda (John Roberts, no, not the Supreme Court justice), falls into the traditional sitcom wife role, never really getting too mad at Bob for forgetting their anniversary, and being happy with her mediocre lot in life. Bob doesn’t deserve her. Eldest daughter, Tina (Dan Mintz – what’s with the guys voicing the girls?) didn’t have any distinguishing characteristics I picked up on in the first episode. The middle child, Gene (Eugene Mirman, The Flight of the Conchords), is as dumb and as in a world all his own as his father is, but still has that youthful, naive joy about it. Youngest daughter, Louise (Kristen Schaal, The Daily Show), was my favorite. She makes up wild stories, and just tries to keep life interesting. The kids and wife are also Bob’s sole staff at the restaurant.
In last night’s first episode, “Human Flesh”, Louise has told her class that Bob’s Burgers uses human flesh in their patties. Unfortunately, that report gets back to health inspector, who used to date Linda, and he comes and posts a big, frightening investigation sticker on the front window of the store during their busiest weekend, driving away all customers, and stirring up a neighborhood revolt. Hugo’s jealousy over Linda makes the situation worse that it need have been. The only person who will (secretly) continue to eat the food, is neighbor Mort the Mortician (Andy Kindler, Everybody Loves Raymond, Last Comic Standing), which doesn’t help with the rumors. Also not helping, Louise changing the burger of the day board to The Pedophile, served with candy, with does attract one more patron. In the end, Bob embraces the lie to lure in The Adventurous Eaters Club, and overcharges them enough to make up for the slow sales.
The humor was pretty good. Louise was the only one that elicited an out loud chuckle from me, but Mort and Bob earned smiles. I wish Linda were a bit more interesting, but with only one episode under the series’s belt, there’s plenty of time for that, as thirteen episodes are expected in the first season. Similarly, if the show is to be good, Tina needs more development. By contrast, I’d prefer that Gene stay just the way he is, played for comic relief, and never taking too much story for himself.
The animation really bugged me, though, and made it hard to enjoy. Bob’s Burgers is created by Loren Bouchard (Dr. Katz, Lucy the Daughter of the Devil), and uses his style from Home Movies, which I didn’t care for. I think it’s the weird torso-neck-head shapes that really throw me. It makes the characters look non-human, and not in a good way. I believe I can get past it, should the show at least maintain the writing and voice talent level of it’s first episode.
My review of “Human Flesh” is mixed, for the reasons listed above, so it’s hard to give a recommendation. It’s not a bad show, by any means, but on a night stacked with established, long running greats like The Simpsons and Family Guy, it doesn’t measure up, at least not yet. The biggest thing Bob’s Burgers has going for it is that it’s different, and NOT created by Seth MacFarlane, whom I love, but have no desire for a fourth series from him until one of the others three end. Unless he departs from his formula, that is.
Bob’s Burgers currently airs Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m. on FOX. If you missed it, the first episode is currently available free from Amazon’s Video on Demand service.